« PreviousContinue »
By every laurell’d brow and holy name,
By every thought of freedom and of fame,
By all ye bear, by all that ye ha re borne,
The blow of anger, and the glance of scorn,
The fruitless labor, and the broken rest,
The bitter torture, and the bitterer jest,
By your sweet infant's unavailing cry,
Your sister's blush, your mother's stifled sigh,
By all the tears that ye have wept, and weep, -
Break, Sons of Athens, break your weary sleep!
Yea, it is broken !—Hark, the sudden shock
Rolls on from wave to wave, froin rock to rock;
Up, for the Cross and Freedom! far and near
Forth starts the sword, and gleans the patriot spear,
And bursts the echo of the battle song,
Cheering and swift, the banded hosts along.
On, Sons of Athens! let your wrongs and woes
Burnish the blades, and nerve the whistling bows;
Green be the laurel, ever blest the meed
Of him that shines to-day in martial deed,
And sweet his sleep beneath the dewy sod,
Who falls for fame, his country, and his God!
The hoary sire has helm'd his locks of gray,
Scorn’d the safe hearth, and totter'd to the fray:
The beardless boy has left his gilt guitar,
And bared his arm for manhood's holiest war.
E'en the weak girl has mail'd her bosom there,
Clasped the rude helmet on her auburn hair,
Changed love's own smile for valor’s fiery glance,
Mirth for the field, the distaff for the lance.
Yes, she was beauteous, that Athenian maid,
When erst she sate within her myrtle shade,
Without a passion, and without a thought,
Save those which innocence and childhood wrought,
Delicious hopes, and dreams of life and love,
Young flowers below, and cloudless skies above.
But oh, how fair, how more than doubly fair,
Thus with the laurel twined around her hair, —
While at her feet her country's chiefs assemble,
And those soft tones amid the war-cry tremble,
As some sweet lute creeps eloquently in,
Breaking the tempest of the truinpet's din,-
Her corselet fasten’d with a golden clasp,-
Her falchion buckled to her tender grasp, -
And quiv’ring lip, flush'd cheek, and flashing eye
All breathing fire, all speaking ‘Liberty !!
Firm has that struggle been! but is there none
To hymn the triumph, when the fight is won ?
Oh for the harp which once—but through the strings,
Far o'er the sea, the dismal night-wind sings ;
Where is the hand that swept it ?-cold and mute,
The lifeless master, and the voiceless lute!
The crowded hall, the murmur, and the gaze,
The look of envy, and the voice of praise,
And friendship's smile, and passion's treasur'd vow,-
All these are nothing, -life is nothing now!
But the hush'd triumph, and the garb of gloom,
The sorrow deep, but mute, around the tomb.
The soldier's silence, and the matron's tear,-
These are the trappings of the sable bier,
Which time corrupts not, falsehood cannot hide,
Nor folly scorn, nor calumny deride.
Ard 'what is writ, is writ!'—the guilt and shame,
All eyes have seen them, and all lips may blame,
Where is the record of the wrong that stung,
The charm that tempted, and the grief that wrung ?
Let feeble hands, iniquitously just,
Rake up the relics of the sinful dust,
Let ignorance mock the pang it cannot feel,
And Malice brand, what Mercy would conceal;
It matters not! he died as all would die;
Greece had his earliest song, his latest sigh;
And o'er the shrine, in which that cold heart sleeps,
Glory looks dim, and joyous conquest weeps.
The maids of Athens to the spot shall bring
The freshest roses of the new-born spring,
And Spartan boys their first-won wreath shall bear,
To bloom round Byron's urn, or droop in sadness there!
Farewell, sweet Athens! thou shalt be again
The sceptred Queen of all thine old domain,
Again be blest in all thy varied charms
Of loveliness and valor, arts and arms.
Forget not then, that in thine hour of dread,
While the weak battled, and the guiltless bled,
Though Kings and Courts stood gazing on thy fate,
The bad, to scoff--the better, to debate,
Here, where the soul of youth remembers yet
The smiles and tears which manhood must forget,
In a far land, the honest and the free
Had lips to pray, and hearts to feel, for thee !
NotE.-Several images in the early part of the poem are selected from passages in the Greek Tragedians-particularly from the two well known Choruses in the Edipus Coloneus and the Medea.
The death of Lord Byron took place after the day appointed for the sending in of the exercises, and the allusion to it was of course introduced subsequent to the adjudication of the prize.
“Ille, feris caput inviolabile Parcis,
Liquit Jordanios turbine raptus, agros."
MILTONI Lat. Poem.
SERVANT of God, thy fight is fought;
Servant of God, thy crown is wrought: Lingerest thou yet upon the joyless earth ?
Thy place is now in Heaven's high bowers,
Far from this mournful world of ours, Among the sons of light, that have a different birth.
Go to the calm and cloudless sphere
Where doubt, and passion, and dim fear, And black remorse, and anguish have no root;
Turn-turn away thy chastened eyes
From sights that make their tears arise, And shake th’ unworthy dust from thy departing
Thy human task is ended now;
No more the lightning of thy brow
Shall wake strange terror in the soul of guilt;
* This Poem obtained one of the Seatonian prizes at the University of Cambridge, A. D. 1830.