Rhymes On The Road. Extract II. Geneva.

A poem by Thomas Moore

FATE OF GENEVA IN THE YEAR 1782.

A FRAGMENT.


Yes--if there yet live some of those,
Who, when this small Republic rose,
Quick as a startled hive of bees,
Against her leaguering enemies--[1]
When, as the Royal Satrap shook
His well-known fetters at her gates,
Even wives and mothers armed and took
Their stations by their sons and mates;
And on these walls there stood--yet, no,
Shame to the traitors--would have stood
As firm a band as e'er let flow
At Freedom's base their sacred blood;
If those yet live, who on that night
When all were watching, girt for fight,
Stole like the creeping of a pest
From rank to rank, from breast to breast,
Filling the weak, the old with fears,
Turning the heroine's zeal to tears,--
Betraying Honor to that brink,
Where, one step more, and he must sink--
And quenching hopes which tho' the last,
Like meteors on a drowning mast,
Would yet have led to death more bright,
Than life e'er lookt, in all its light!
Till soon, too soon, distrust, alarms
Throughout the embattled thousands ran,
And the high spirit, late in arms,
The zeal that might have workt such charms,
Fell like a broken talisman--
Their gates, that they had sworn should be
The gates of Death, that very dawn,
Gave passage widely, bloodlessly,
To the proud foe--nor sword was drawn,
Nor even one martyred body cast
To stain their footsteps, as they past;
But of the many sworn at night
To do or die, some fled the sight,
Some stood to look with sullen frown,
While some in impotent despair
Broke their bright armor and lay down,
Weeping, upon the fragments there!--
If those, I say, who brought that shame,
That blast upon GENEVA'S name
Be living still--tho' crime so dark
Shall hang up, fixt and unforgiven,
In History's page, the eternal mark
For Scorn to pierce--so help me, Heaven,
I wish the traitorous slaves no worse,
No deeper, deadlier disaster
From all earth's ills no fouler curse
Than to have *********** their master!

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