The Crisis

It comes--the awful hour!--compatriots dear,
Who oft, confiding in my honest zeal
And keen attachments to the public weal,
Bent to my artless theme the partial ear;
Now search my breast with scrutiny severe:
That breast which, frequent in the swelling pride
Of youthful ardour, the stern threats defied
Of distant danger: mark if now base fear
Palsy its boasted future--or if now
(Forgetful of the truths so oft upheld)
Abject beneath the imperious foot I bow
Of terror-vested power--suppliant!--depressed!
Or one emotion feel, but what the breast
Of Hampden or of Sidney might have swelled.

John Thelwall (1764-1834)


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2013 Selected Poetry
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