Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

7.
Must we but weep o'er days more blest?

Must we but blush? - Our fathers bled.
Earth! render back from out thy breast

A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylæ! 2

40

8.

1

What, silent still? and silent all?

Ah! no; — the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent's fall,

45
And answer, " Let one living head,3
But one arise, -we come, we come!”

'Tis but the living who are dumb. 1 Byron, in Don Juan, Canto III. Stanza LXXXVII., thus refers to his Greek Bard:

Thus sung, or would, or could, or should have sung,

The modern Greek, in tolerable verse;
If not like Orpheus quite, when Greece was young,

Yet in these times he might have done much worse:
His strain displayed some feeling-right or wrong;

And feeling, in a poet, is the source
Of others' feeling; but they are such liars,

And take all colors - like the hands of dyers.2 A narrow pass-the only road from northern to southern Greece, de. fended by the Spartan leader Leonidas against the Persians, B.C. 480.

3 What did Byron himself do for the Greek cause ?

[blocks in formation]

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!

We will not think of themes like these!
It made Anacreon's song divine:

He served-but served Polycrates 6_-
A tyrant; but our masters then
Were still, at least, our countrymen.

65

1 Of Samos, an island off the coast of Asia Minor.

2 A city noted for its wine, situated on an island of the same name in the Ægean Sea.

3 A devotee of Bacchus.
4 Byron saw and described

The Pyrrhic dance so martial,

To which the Levantines are very partial.” The Greeks learned the use of the phalanx and the war dance from Pyr. rhus, king of Epirus.

5 Cadmus, a Phænician, is said to have brought the alphabet to Greece.

6 Polycrates, tyrant of the island of Samos, in the Ægean Sea, was a patron of literature.

I 2.

The tyrant of the Chersonese 1

Was freedom's best and bravest friend;
That tyrant was Miltiades! 2

Oh! that the present hour would lend
Another despot of the kind!
Such chains as his were sure to bind.

70

[blocks in formation]

80

Trust not for freedom to the Franks 6

They have a king who buys and sells;
In native swords, and native ranks,

The only hope of courage dwells:
But Turkish force, and Latin fraud,
Would break your shield, however broad.?

15.

85

Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!

Our virgins dance beneath the shade

1 A peninsula of Greece.
2 The leader of the Greeks at Marathon.
3 A famous fortress in Epirus.
4 A fortified town in Turkey.
5 Descended from Hercules, who was of Doric origin.
6 Inhabitants of France.

7 Did not Turkish force, Latin fraud, and Greek cowardice break the Greek shield in 1897?

I see their glorious black eyes shine;

But gazing on each glowing maid,
My own the burning tear-drop laves,
To think such breasts must suckle slaves.

90

16.

Place me on Sunium's i marbleå steep,

Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;

There, swanlike, let me sing and die:
A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine-
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!.

95

1 Cape Sunium or Colonna, a rocky promontory. Byron alludes to some lines of Sophocles, in the tragedy of Ajax, in which a hero says: “Let me be where is the surf-beaten promontory of the sea, under the lofty hill of Sunium."

GENERAL NOTE. — The impassioned eloquence of this unique poem is wonderfully effective. As The Prisoner of Chillon is the least Byronic of the author's best poems, this may be said to be the most Byronic. Besides its supreme merit as a work of literary art, the brilliant lyric affords many

historical data, and furnishes a fruitful theme not only for a lesson, but for a whole lecture, on Greece, ancient and modern, her wars, heroes, poets, and patriotic struggles, which seem destined never to end. The poem should be

committed to memory,” and, what is better, “ learned by heart.”

DARKNESS.

5

10

I HAD a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless; and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went-and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watch fires--and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings-the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanoes, and their mountain torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contained;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded-and the crackling trunks
Extinguished with a crash-and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down

15

20

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »