A View of Rhode Island

Philip Freneau

Wash'd by surrounding seas, and bold her coasts,
A grateful soil the fair Rhode Island boasts.
The admiring eye no happier fields can trace,
Here seas are crowned with the scaly race,
Nature has strove to make her native blest
And owns no fairer Eden in the west:
Here lovliest dames in frequent circles seen,
Catch the fine tint of health from beauty's queen,
No aid they want to seize the enraptur'd view
Nor art's false colours to improve the true;
Here, love the traveller holds—loth to depart
Some charming creature slays his wandering heart,
Bids him forget from clime to clime to rove,
And even dull prudence—here—submits to love.
On grassy farms, their souls enslav'd to gain,
Reside the masters of the rural reign;
Vast herds they feed, that glut the abundant pail,
Break the stiff sod, or freight the adventurous sail;
The nervous steed, the stanchest of the kind
Here walks his rounds in pastures unconfin'd:—
Half that the lands produce or seas contain
To other shores transported o'er the main
Returns in coin, to cheer the miser's eye,
In foreign sweets, that fancied wants supply,
Or tawdry stuffs, to deck the limbs of pride,
That thus expends what avarice strove to hide.
But, hostile to themselves, this jarring race
In desperate interests, different plans embrace—
One, bold in wrong, his paper fabric rears
And steels his bosom to the orphan's tears
To those he ruin'd grants no late relief!
But leaves the wretched to subsist on grief!
In lost advice his days the gownsman spends,
He gives his prayers and teachings to the winds,—
In vain he tells of virtue's sure reward;
No words but this attract a swain's regard—
Talk not of Laws!—where innocence must fall,
One spark of honour more than damns them all;
And vainly Science her assistance lends
Where knavery shapes it to the basest ends,
Fraud walks at large,—each selfish passion reigns,
And cheats enforce what honesty disdains.
Hurt at the view, I leave the ungrateful shore
And thy rough soil, Connecticut, explore:

Main Location:

Rhode Island, USA