Theodore Tilton



The Harp Of Andrew Marvell

by Theodore Tilton

And if we would speak true,
Much to the man is due

Who from his private gardens, where
He lived reserved and austere
(As if his highest plot
To plant the bergamot),

Could by industrious valor climb
To ruin the great work of time,
And cast the kingdoms old
Into another mould.

Marvell's Ode on Cromwell, 1650.


O Marvell's harp! I dare to wake
Thy silent strings for Freedom's sake,
To sing how vain thy boast
Of Cromwell's conquering host!


O Marvell's self! arise instead,
To warn the living by the dead,
How Freedom may be lost,
Though won at bloody cost!


A nation, weak amid her might,
Sent forth her lowliest to the fight,
Until by men enslaved
The free themselves were saved.


But, O victorious state! -- unjust,
Perfidious, false to Freedom's trust! --
Thy feet are trampling now
The men who crowned thy brow!


Before the Judge of all the earth,
Men hold an equal rank of birth,
An equal law of breath,
An equal dust of death.


O Freedom! open thou a grave,
Where every king, where every slave,
Shall cast in crown and chain,
Till only men remain!


Meanwhile, I lay thee on the ground,
O harp! nor smite thee to a sound,
For now a poet's stroke
Is vain to break a yoke.


But when the tardy earth hath rolled
Her kingdoms to the age of gold,
A poet by his song
Shall crumble down a wrong!

These verses are an echo of Marvell's Ode to Cromwell. The Commonwealth of England, which, by a successful war, was placed upon a sure foundation of freedom, was then, by an unsuccessful 'reconstruction,' set back upon the old corner-stone of monarchy. Let not the Republic of America, after a like struggle, suffer a like fate! -- The Independent, New York, Nov. 16, 1865.


The Sexton's Tale, And Other Poems.
Copyright 1867
Sheldon And Company, New York.