logotype

Poems

To the americans of the united states

MEN of this passing age!--whose noble deeds
Honour will bear above the scum of Time:
Ere this eventful century expire,
Once more we greet you with our humble rhyme;
Pleased, if we meet your smiles, but--if denied,
Yet, with YOUR sentence, we are satisfied.

Catching our subjects from the varying scene
Of human things; a mingled work we draw,
Chequered with fancies odd, and figures strange,
Such, as no courtly poet ever saw;
Who writ, beneath some GREAT MAN'S ceiling placed;
Travelled no lands, nor roamed the watery waste.

To seize some features from the faithless past;
Be this our care--before the century close:
The colours strong!--for, if we deem aright,
The coming age will be an age of prose:
When sordid cares will break the muses' dream,
And COMMON SENSE be ranked in seat supreme,

Go, now, dear book, once more expand your wings:
Still to the cause of Man severely true:
Untaught to flatter pride, or fawn on kings;--
Trojan, or Tyrian,--give them both their due.--
When they are right, the cause of both we plead,
And both will please us well.--if both will read.

1797

 

l. 19. dear book: Although composed in 1797, this poem introduced Volume II of Freneau's collected poems of 1809.
l. 22. Tyrian: an inhabitant of Tyre, and so a Phoenician. The line is a paraphrase of Virgil: "Tros, Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur".