Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
Mare Mediterraneum
John Nichol (1833–94)
A LINE of light! it is the inland sea,
  The least in compass and the first in fame;
The gleaming of its waves recalls to me
    Full many an ancient name.
As through my dreamland float the days of old,        5
  The forms and features of their heroes shine:
I see Phœnician sailors bearing gold
    From the Tartessian mine.
Seeking new worlds, storm-toss’d Ulysses ploughs
  Remoter surges of the winding main;        10
And Grecian captains come to pay their vows,
    Or gather up the slain.
I see the temples of the Violet Crown
  Burn upward in the hour of glorious flight;
And mariners of uneclips’d renown,        15
    Who won the great sea fight.
I hear the dashing of a thousand oars,
  The angry waters take a deeper dye;
A thousand echoes vibrate from the shores
    With Athens’ battle-cry.        20
Again the Carthaginian rovers sweep,
  With sword and commerce, on from shore to shore;
In visionary storms the breakers leap
    Round Syrtes, as of yore.
Victory, sitting on the Seven Hills,        25
  Had gain’d the world when she had master’d thee;
Thy bosom with the Roman war-note thrills,
    Wave of the inland sea.
Then, singing as they sail in shining ships,
  I see the monarch minstrels of Romance,        30
And hear their praises murmur’d through the lips
    Of the fair dames of France.
Across the deep another music swells,
  On Adrian bays a later splendor smiles;
Power hails the marble city where she dwells        35
    Queen of a hundred isles.
Westward the galleys of the Crescent roam,
  And meet the Pisan; challenge on the breeze,
Till the long Dorian palace lords the foam
    With stalwart Genoese.        40
But the light fades; the vision wears away;
  I see the mist above the dreary wave.
Blow, winds of Freedom, give another day
    Of glory to the brave!


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