Page images
PDF
EPUB

And tow'rs of strength were men, high-minded men,

Who heard the cry of danger with more joy 49 5

Than softer natures listen to the voice

Of pleasure; who with unremitting toil

In chase, in battle, or athletic course,

To fierceness steel'd their native hardihood,

Who sunk in death as tranquil as in sleep, 500

And hemm'd by hostile myriads, never turn'd

To flight, but closer drew before their breasts

The massy buckler, firmer fix'd the foot,

Bit the writh'd lip, and where they struggled fell.

And yet the Muse shall raise no song of grief 505 For Sparta's children; she can pass unmov'd Amidst her desolation, nor bewail The blow that laid her prostrate in the dust. For she remembers, that her laws were fram'd To blast and not to cherish the young germ 510 Of feeling, to repress Affection's tear, And crush each tender charity; she knows That all her sons were deaf to Wisdom's voice, Breathing the precepts of Philosophy, And that the lyre of eloquence and song 515 Sounded for them in vain. She reads appall'd

That with malignant rage they led the shock

Of mailed war amidst the sylvan scenes

Where Fancy dwelt, and blew with insult rude

The trump of Discord in the marble schools 520

Where Science gather'd her Athenian sons.

The Muse's harp is silent—Warriors sing

The dirge of those who sleep in Sparta's tombs.

They sleep—but still their spirit walks the earth; Their martial shouts are heard from Maina's rocks, 525 Where, still unconquer'd thousands rally round The spear of Grecian Freedom. Hardy race, How wild the dauntless glances of your eye Midst slav'ry's tears; how sweet your war-notes swell Upon the ear, long us'd to slav'ry's moan! 530 Sparta's true progeny! whose daughters leave The distaff for the sword, and in the march Of war outstrip their husbands and their sires. ,

Swift rushing from his fount of mountain-rock Alpheus murmurs; now in narrow bed, 53 5

With cliffs o'erarch cl, thro' dells of brownest shade
Imbower'd with lofty platanes; now more broad

Expanding o'er luxuriant plains, where copse

And thicket cluster on his even banks;

Now plunging headlong thro' a dusky cave 540

He winds his subterraneous course, and thence

Emerging, dimples o'er his shoals of sand,

Thro' groves of oak and chesnut, crowding close

The green recesses of some peaceful vale.

Rolling thro' Pisa's plain he sinks engulph'd 54 5

Beneath the ocean's wave, and joyful seeks

His Arethusa on Sicilia's shores.

Mourn for Olympia—o'er her prostrate fanes
Tread lightly, and if e'er the wint'ry stream
Wash from its crumbling banks the bruised helm, 5 50
Or spear-head blunted in the shock of arms,
Guard them in rev'rence of the mighty dead.
Mourn for Olympia—the loud shouts that burst
Along her plain, when round the victor's brows
The olive-wreath was twin'd, no longer ring; 55 5

And the harp's strains, which from assembled Greece
Drew the soft tears of sympathy and joy,
Are silent as the chambers of the tomb.

Warm'd into life, and cherish'd by the breath

Of popular applause, amidst these schools 560
The Arts put forth their tender shoots, and bloom'd
With more than mortal beauty. Sculpture's hand
Rounded the marble to a living form;
Painting suspended her heroic tales

In the vast temple for her country's eye; 56 5

The Muse of History from fable's rust

Cleans'd Time's dark tablets, and aloud proclaimed

The wondrous legends to impatient crowds;

Whilst Poesy and Song uniting pour'd

The tide of rapture on the yielding soul. 5 70

Blest country! where each lab'ring hind confess'd

The charm of fancy, and, unskill'd himself

In art, admir'd the artist's magic pow'rs.

Thrice happy Britain, if such taste were thine;

But thou, enwrapp'd in airy dreams of pow'r, 57 5

Or grov'lling in the base pursuit of wealth,

Hear'st not the charmer's voice, or turn'st away

Thine eye from beauties which thou can'st not feel.

Yet the neglected Muse shall have her day

Of triumph, when thy long concerted plans 5 8©

Of empire are forgotten; when the voice

Which in thy senate now proclaims itself

The oracle of wisdom, is expos'd,

Futile and vain, and all the babbling swarm,

The insects of a day, that buzz amidst 585

Thy legislative domes are heard no more,

Then shall she burst the overwhelming cloud

Of ignorance, which now obscures her ray,

And bear thy name to the remotest age.

Here where Selinus winds his murm'ring stream, 590
Midst swelling hills with fir and olive rob'd,
The Philosophic Warrior* sought repose;
Here his life's day, long overcast with storms,
Sunk tranquil to its eve amidst the groves
Of Scilluns; here he found that happiness, 595
Which in the busy world's tumultuous throng,
In courts of monarchs, and in battle's din,
He sought in vain. His lowly dwelling rose
Within a valley, on a verdant lawn;

And as the sage beneath his aged vine 600
Sat 'midst his children, his delighted eye
Rang'd o'er a beauteous scene of wood and dale,

5 Xenophon.

« PreviousContinue »