Lowell on Lamartine: Highest duty of man, to summon peace when vulture of war smells blood
James Russell Lowell
From To Lamartine (1848)
I did not praise thee when the crowd,
‘Witched with the moment’s inspiration,
Vexed thy still ether with hosannas loud,
And stamped their dusty adoration;
I but looked upward with the rest,
And, when they shouted Greatest, whispered Best.
Now thou’rt thy plain, grand self again,
Thou art secure from panegyric,
Thou who gav’st politics an epic strain,
And actedst Freedom’s noblest lyric;
This side the Blessed Isles, no tree
Grows green enough to make a wreath for thee.
The highest duty to mere man vouchsafed
Was laid on thee, – out of wild chaos,
When the roused popular ocean foamed and chafed
And vulture War from his Imaus
Snuffed blood, to summon homely Peace,
And show that only order is release.