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Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in beauty's circle proudly gay;
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The morn the marshalling in arms; the day
Battle's magnificently-stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover-heaped and pent,
Rider and horse-friend, foe—in one red burial blent!
To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er, or rarely been ;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean,—
This is not solitude; 'tis but to hold
Converse with nature's charms, and see her stores un
But 'midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of men,
To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,
And roam along, the world's tired denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less,
Of all that flattered, followed, sought, and sued :
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!
THE LAKE OF GENEVA.
CLEAR, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring.
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
To waft me from distraction; once I loved
Torn ocean's roar, but thy soft murmuring
Sounds sweet as if a sister's voice reproved,
That I with stern delights should e'er have been so
It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear, Mellowed and mingling, yet distinctly seen, Save darkened Jura, whose capt heights appear Precipitously steep; and drawing near, There breathes a living fragrance from the shore, Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear Drops the light drip of the suspended oar, Or chirps the grasshopper one goodnight carol more.
He is an evening reveller, who makes
His life an infancy, and sings his fill.
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill,
But that is fancy, for the starlight dews
All silently their tears of love instil,
Weeping themselves away, till they infuse
Deep into Nature's breast the spirit of her hues.
ANCIENT AND MODERN GREECE.
HE who hath bent him o'er the dead
Ere the first day of death is fled,
The first dark day of nothingness,
The last of danger and distress
(Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where beauty lingers),
And marked the mild angelic air,
The rapture of repose that's there,
The fixed yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,
And-but for that sad and shrouded eye,
That fires not, wins not, weeps not now,
And but for that chill changeless brow,
Where cold Obstruction's apathy
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon;
Yes, but for these and these alone,
Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the tyrant's power;
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed,
The first, last look, by death revealed!
Such is the aspect of this shore ;
'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more!
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness of death,
That parts not quite with parting breath;
But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb,
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded halo hovering round decay,
The farewell beam of Feeling past away!
Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth,
Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished
Clime of the unforgotten brave!
Whose land from plain to mountain cave
Was Freedom's home, or Glory's grave!
Shrine of the mighty! can it be
That this is all remains of thee?
Approach, thou craven crouching slave :
Say, is not this Thermopyla?
These waters blue that round you lave,
O 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 the 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,
Bequeathed 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!
THE ISLES OF GREECE.
THE isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung;
Where grew the arts of war and peace,-
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
The Scian and the Teian muse,
The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse;
Their place of birth alone is mute
To sounds which echo further west
Than your sires' "Islands of the Blest."
The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free; For standing on the Persians' grave, I could not deem myself a slave. A king sat on the rocky brow
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis,
And ships by thousands lay below,
And men in nations,—all were his !
He counted them at break of day—
And when the sun set, where were they?
And where are they? and where art thou,
My country? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now—
The heroic bosom beats no more!
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine?
'Tis something, in the dearth of fame,
Though linked among a fettered race,
To feel at least a patriot's shame,
Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush-for Greece a tear.
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 Thermopyla.