Verse > Anthologies > George Herbert Clarke, ed. > A Treasury of War Poetry
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George Herbert Clarke, ed. (1873–1953).  A Treasury of War Poetry.  1917.
 
58. To Fellow Travellers in Greece
 
March–September, 1914
 
By W. Macneile Dixon
 
 
’T WAS in the piping time of peace
We trod the sacred soil of Greece,
Nor thought, where the Ilissus runs,
Of Teuton craft or Teuton guns;
 
Nor dreamt that, ere the year was spent,        5
Their iron challenge insolent
Would round the world’s horizons pour,
From Europe to the Australian shore.
 
The tides of war had ebb’d away
From Trachis and Thermopylæ,        10
Long centuries had come and gone
Since that fierce day at Marathon;
 
Freedom was firmly based, and we
Wall’d by our own encircling sea;
The ancient passions dead, and men        15
Battl’d with ledger and with pen.
 
So seem’d it, but to them alone
The wisdom of the gods is known;
Lest freedom’s price decline, from far
Zeus hurl’d the thunderbolt of war.        20
 
And so once more the Persian steel
The armies of the Greeks must feel,
And once again a Xerxes know
The virtue of a Spartan foe.
 
Thus may the cloudy fates unroll’d        25
Retrace the starry circles old,
And the recurrent heavens decree
A Periclean dynasty.
 

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