« PreviousContinue »
That this is all remains of thee?
Approach, thou craven crouching slave :
Say, is not this Thermopylæ ?
These waters blue that round you lave,
Oh servile offspring of the free-
Pronounce what sea, what shore is this?
The gulf, the rock of Salamis !
These scenes, their story not unknown,
Arise, and make again your own;
Snatch from the ashes of your sires
The embers of their former fires;
And he who in the strife expires
Will add to theirs a name of fear
That Tyranny shall quake to hear,
And leave his sons a hope, a fame,
They too will rather die than shame :
For Freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeath'd by bleeding Sire to Son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.
Bear witness, Greece, thy living page,
Attest it many a deathless age !
While kings, in dusty darkness hid,
Have left a nameless pyramid,
Thy heroes, though the general doom
Hath swept the column from their tomb,
A mightier monument command,
The mountains of their native land !
There points thy Muse to stranger's eye
The graves of those that cannot die !
'Twere long to tell and sad to trace,
Each step from splendour to disgrace ;
Enough—no foreign foe could quell
Thy soul, till from itself it fell ;
Yes! Self-abasement paved the way
To villain bonds and despot sway.
(CHILDE HAROLD, Canto ii. Stanzas 73-77.)
FAIR GREECE ! sad relic of departed worth !
Immortal, though no more ; though fallen, great !
Who now shall lead thy scatter'd children forth,
And long accustom'd bondage uncreate ?
Not such thy sons who whilome did await,
The hopeless warriors of a willing doom,
In bleak Thermopylæ's sepulchral strait-
Oh! who that gallant spirit shall resume,
Leap from Eurotas' banks, and call thee from the tomb ?
Spirit of freedom! when on Phyle's brow
Thou sat'st with Thrasybulus and his train,
Couldst thou forebode the dismal hour which now
Dims the green beauties of thine Attic plain ?
Not thirty tyrants now enforce the chain,
But every carle can lord it o'er thy land ;
Nor rise thy sons, but idly rail in vain,
Trembling beneath the scourge of Turkish hand,
From birth till death enslaved ; in word, in deed,
In all save form alone, how changed ! and who
That marks the fire still sparkling in each eye,
Who but would deem their bosoms burn'd anew
With thy unquenched beam, lost Liberty !
And many dream withal the hour is nigh
That gives them back their fathers' heritage :
For foreign arms and aid they fondly sigh,
Nor solely dare encounter hostile rage,
Or tear their name defiled from Slavery's mournful page.
Hereditary bondsmen ! know ye not
Who would be free themselves must strike the blow ?
By their right arms the conquest must be wrought ?
Will Gaul or Muscovite redress ye? no !
True, they may lay your proud despoilers low,
But not for you will Freedom's altars flame.
Shades of the Helots ! triumph o'er your foe !
Greece ! change thy lords, thy state is still the same; Thy glorious day is o'er, but not thine years of shame.
The city won for Allah from the Giaour,
The Giaour from Othman's race again may wrest ;
And the Serai's impenetrable tower
Receive the fiery Frank, her former guest;
Or Wahab's rebel brood who dared divest
The prophet's tomb of all its pious spoil,
May wind their path of blood along the West ;
But ne'er will freedom seek this fated soil,
But slave succeed to slave through years of endless toil.
(CHILDE HAROLD, Canto ii. Stanzas 84-88.)
When riseth Lacedæmon's hardihood,
When Thebes Epaminondas rears again,
When Athens' children are with hearts endued,
When Grecian mothers shall give birth to men,
Then may'st thou be restored ; but not till then !
A thousand ye scarce serve to form a state ;
An hour may lay it in the dust : and when
Can man its shatter'd splendour renovate,
Recal its virtues back, and vanquish Time and Fate ?
And yet how lovely in thine age
Land of lost gods and godlike men ! art thou !
Thy vales of evergreen, thy hills of snow,
Proclaim thee Nature's varied favourite now;
Thy fanes, thy temples to thy surface bow,
Commingling slowly with heroic earth,
Broke by the share of every rustic plough:
So perish monuments of mortal birth,
So perish all in turn, save well-recorded Worth ;
Save where some solitary column mourns
Above its prostrate brethren of the cave;
Save where Tritonia's airy shrine adorns
Colonna's cliff, and gleams along the wave;
Save o'er some warrior's half-forgotten grave,
Where the gray stones and unmolested grass
Ages, but not oblivion, feebly brave,
While strangers only not regardless pass,
Lingering like me, perchance, to gaze, and sigh “Alas !”
Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild ;
Sweet are thy groves, and verdant are thy fields,
Thine olive ripe as when Minerva smiled,
And still his honied wealth Hymettus yields ;
There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds,
The freeborn wanderer of thy mountain-air ;
Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds,
Still in his beam Mendeli's marbles glare ;
Art, Glory, Freedom fail, but Nature still is fair.
Where'er we tread 'tis haunted, holy ground,
No earth of thine is lost in vulgar mould,
But one vast realm of wonder spreads around,
And all the Muse's tales seem truly told,
Till the sense aches with gazing to behold
The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt upon :
Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and wold
Defies the power which crush'd thy temples gone : Age shakes Athena's tower, but spares gray Marathon.