To The Genius Of Africa

A poem by Robert Southey

O thou who from the mountain's height
Roll'st down thy clouds with all their weight
Of waters to old Niles majestic tide;
Or o'er the dark sepulchral plain
Recallest thy Palmyra's ancient pride,
Amid whose desolated domes
Secure the savage chacal roams,
Where from the fragments of the hallow'd fane
The Arabs rear their miserable homes!

Hear Genius hear thy children's cry!
Not always should'st thou love to brood
Stern o'er the desert solitude
Where seas of sand toss their hot surges high;
Nor Genius should the midnight song
Detain thee in some milder mood
The palmy plains among
Where Gambia to the torches light
Flows radiant thro' the awaken'd night.

Ah, linger not to hear the song!
Genius avenge thy children's wrong!
The Daemon COMMERCE on your shore
Pours all the horrors of his train,
And hark! where from the field of gore
Howls the hyena o'er the slain!
Lo! where the flaming village fires the skies!
Avenging Power awake--arise!

Arise thy children's wrong redress!
Ah heed the mother's wretchedness
When in the hot infectious air
O'er her sick babe she bows opprest--
Ah hear her when the Christians tear
The drooping infant from her breast!
Whelm'd in the waters he shall rest!
Hear thou the wretched mother's cries,
Avenging Power awake! arise!

By the rank infected air
That taints those dungeons of despair,
By those who there imprison'd die
Where the black herd promiscuous lie,
By the scourges blacken'd o'er
And stiff and hard with human gore,
By every groan of deep distress
By every curse of wretchedness,
By all the train of Crimes that flow
From the hopelessness of Woe,
By every drop of blood bespilt,
By Afric's wrongs and Europe's guilt,
Awake! arise! avenge!

And thou hast heard! and o'er their blood-fed plains
Swept thine avenging hurricanes;
And bade thy storms with whirlwind roar
Dash their proud navies on the shore;
And where their armies claim'd the fight
Wither'd the warrior's might;
And o'er the unholy host with baneful breath
There Genius thou hast breath'd the gales of Death.

So perish still the robbers of mankind!
What tho' from Justice bound and blind
Inhuman Power has snatch'd the sword!
What tho' thro' many an ignominious age
That Fiend with desolating rage
The tide of carnage pour'd!
Justice shall yet unclose her eyes,
Terrific yet in wrath arise,
And trample on the tyrant's breast,
And make Oppresion groan opprest.

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