Helen Maria Williams Poetry

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The poem is a poignant as well as painful recollection of the French Revolution in the closing decade of the 18th century. The poet has written the poem in the backdrop of the poetical epistle by Dr. Moore published in A Journal During a Residence in France (1793-4).


The strokes of the poet's pen spare none.
The poet makes common cause with Dr Moore. There may have been some differences but it is papered over with respect and recognition. The poet expresses satisfaction at having gained ground lost prior to the revolution. History does not encourage short sighted gains of ill-gotten wealth. The poet is content to consign the rights and wrongs of the revolution to history while dwelling on the achievements of the revolution.
The lyrical charm of the poem is interspersed with the difficult accounts of the French Revolution. Lines such as "While in long exile far from you I roam, To soothe my heart with images of home" "Thy happy peasant, now no more-a slave, Forbade to taste one good that nature gave - Views with the anguish of indignant pain, The bounteous harvest spread for him in vain" express the scars of the revolution. But there is also the joy of liberty and the hard gained freedom to retain the fruits of one's labor. "Oppression's cruel hand shall dare no more, To seize with iron grip his scanty store, And from his famished infants wring those spoils, The hard-earned produce of his useful toils; For now on Gallia's plains the peasant knows, Those equal rights impartial heaven bestows." (Helen Maria Williams).
The poem vividly portrays the picture of brotherhood and fellowship along with the beauty of the climes. ...
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