Voltaire

Epistle (Upon his arrival at his estate in Geneva)

O take, O keep me, ever blest Domains
Where lovely Flora with Pomona reigns;
Where Art fulfills what Nature's Voice requires,
And gives the Charms to which my Verse aspires;
Take me, the World with Transport I resign,
And let your peaceful Solitude be mine!
Yet not in these Retreats I boast to find
That perfect Bliss that leaves no Wish behind;
This, to no lonely Shade kind Nature brings,
Nor Art bestows on Courtiers, or on Kings;
Not ev'n the Sage this Boon has e'er possess'd,
Tho' join'd with Wisdom, Virtue shared his Breast;
This transient Life, alas! can ne'er suffice
To reach the distant Goal, and snatch the Prize;
Yet, sooth'd to Rest, we feel Suspence from Woe,
And tho' not perfect Joy, yet Joy we know.

Enchanting Scenes! what Pleasure you dispence
Where e'er I turn, to ev'ry wond'ring Sense!
An Ocean here, where no rude Tempest roars,
With crystal Waters laves the hallow'd Shores;
Here flow'ry Fields with rising Hills are crown'd,
Where clust'ring Vines empurple all the Ground;
Now by Degrees from Hills to Alps they rise,
Hell groans beneath, above they pierce the Skies!
See the proud Summit, white with endless Frost,
Eternal Bulwark of the blissful Coast!
The blissful Coast the hardy Lombards gain,
And Frost and Mountains cross their Course in vain;
Here Glory beckon'd mighty Chiefs of old,
And planted Laurels to reward the bold;
Charles, Otho, Conti heard her Trumpet sound,
And, borne on Vict'ry's Wings, they spurn'd the Mound.

See, on those Banks where yon calm Waters swell,
The hair-clad Epicure's luxurious Cell!
See famed Ripaille, where once so grave, so gay,
Great Amedeus pass'd from Pray'r to Play:
Fantastic Wretch! thou Riddle of thy Kind!
What strange Ambition seized thy frantic Mind?
Prince, Hermit, Lover! blest through ev'ry Hour
With blissful Change of Pleasure and of Pow'r,
Couldst thou, thus paradis'd, from Care remote,
Rush to the World, and fight for Peter's Boat?
Now by the Gods of sweet Repose I swear
I would not thus have barter'd Ease for Care,
Spight of the Keys that move our Fear and Hope
I ne'er would quit such Penance to be Pope.

Let him who Rome's stern Tyrant stoop'd to praise,
The tuneful Chaunter of sweet georgic Lays,
Let Maro boast of Streams that Nature pours
To lave proud Villas on Italia's Shores;
Superior far the Streams that court my Song,
Superior far the Shores they wind along:
Blest Shores! the Dwelling of that sacred Pow'r
Who rules each joyful, and each glorious Hour,
Queen of whate'er the Good or Great desire,
The Patriot's Eloquence, the Hero's Fire,
Shrin'd in each Breast, and near the Tyrant's Sword
Invok'd in Whispers, and in Sighs adored,
Immortal Liberty, whose gen'rous Mind
With all her Gifts would bless all human kind!
See, from Morat she comes in martial Charms
And shines like Pallas in coelestial Arms,
Her Sword the Blood of boastful Austria stains
And Charles, who threaten'd with opprobrious Chains.

Now hostile Crowds Geneva's Tow'rs assail,
They march in secret, and by Night they scale;
The Goddess comes---they vanish from the Wall,
Their Launces shiver, and their Heros fall,
For Fraud can ne'er elude, nor Force withstand
The Stroke of Liberty's victorious Hand.

She smiles; her Smiles perpetual Joys diffuse;
A shouting Nation where she turns pursues;
Their heart-felt Paeans thunder to the Sky,
And echoing Appenines from far reply:
Such Wreaths their Temples crown as Greece intwin'd
Her Hero's Brows at Marthon to bind;
Such Wreaths the Sons of Freedom hold more dear
Than circling Gold and Gems that crown the Peer,
Or the cleft Mitre's venerable Grace.
Insulting Grandeur, in gay Tinsel drest,
Shews here no Star embroider'd on the Breast,
No tissu'd Ribbon on the Shoulder tied,
Vain Gift implor'd by Vanity from Pride!
Nor here stern Wealth with supercilious Eyes
The falt'ring Pray'r of weeping Want denies;
Here no false Pride at honest Labour sneers,
Men here are Brothers, equal but in Years;
Here Heav'n, O! Liberty, has fix'd thy Throne,
Fill'd, glorious Liberty! by thee alone.

Rome sees thy Face, since Brutus fell, no more,
A Stranger thou on many a cultur'd Shore:
The Polish Lord, of thy Embraces vain,
Pricks his proud Courser o'er Sarmtia's Plain;
Erects his haughty Front in martial Pride,
And spurns the Burgher, grov'ling at his Side;
The grov'ling Burgher burns with secret Fires,
Looks up, beholds thee, sighs, despairs, expires.

Britain's rough Sons in thy Defence are bold,
Yet some pretend at London thou are sold,
I heed them not, to sell too proud, too wise,
If Blood must buy, with Blood the Briton buys.

On Belgic Bogs, 'tis said, thy Footsteps fail,
But thou secure may'st scorn the whisper'd Tale;
To latest Times the Race of great Nassau
Who rais'd sev'n Altars to thy sacred Law
With faithful Hand thy Honours shall defend,
And bid proud Factions to thy Faces bend.

Thee Venice keeps, thee Genoa now regains;
And next the Throne thy Seat the Swede maintains;
How few in Safety thus with Kings can vie!
If not supreme, how dang'rous to be high!
O! still preside where'er the Law's thy Friend,
And keep thy Station, and thy Rights defend;
But take no factious League's reproachful Name,
Still prone to change, and zealous still to blame,
Cloud not the Sunshine of a conqu'ring Race,
Whom Wisdom governs, and whom Manners grace;
Fond of their Sov'reign, of Subjection vain,
They wish no Favours at thy Hands to gain,
Nor need such Vassals at their Lord repine
Whose easy Sway they fondly take for thine.

Thro' the wide East less gentle is thy Fate,
Where the dumb Murderer guards the Sultan's Gate;
Here pale and trembling, in the Dust o'erturned,
With Chains dishonour'd, and by Eunuchs spurn'd,
The Sword and Bow-string plac'd on either Side
Thou mourn'st, while Slave of Life and Death decide.

Spoil'd of thy Cap thro' all the bright Levant
Tell gave thee his, and well supplied the Want.
O! come my Goddess, in thy chosen Hour,
And let my better Fortune hail thy Pow'r;
Fair Friendship calls thee to my green Retreat,
O! come, with Friendship share the mossy Seat;
Like thee she flies the turbulent and great,
The Craft of Business, and the Farce of State;
To you, propitious Pow'rs, at last I turn,
To you, my Vows ascend, my Altars burn;
Let me of each the pleasing Influence share,
My Joys now heighten'd, and now sooth'd my Care;
Each ruder Passion banish'd from my Breast
Bid the short Remnant of my Days be blest.



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