Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Greece
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX.  1876–79.
 
Greece: Delos, the Island
Delos
Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)
 
THOUGH Syria’s rock was passed at morn,
  The wind so faintly arched the sail,
That ere to Delos we were borne,
  The autumn day began to fail,
And only in Diana’s smiles        5
We reached the bay between the isles.
 
In sweet serenity of force
  She ruled the heavens without a star,—
A sacred image that the course
  Of time and thought can hardly mar,—        10
As dear and nearly as divine
As ever in Ephesian shrine.
 
I knew that on the spot I trod
  Her glorious twins Latona bore,
That for her sake the pitying God        15
  Had fixed the isle afloat before;
And, fearful of his just disdain,
I almost felt it move again.
 
For the delicious light that threw
  Such clear transparence on the wave,        20
From the black mastick-bushes drew
  Column and frieze and architrave,
Like rocks, which, native to the place,
Had something of mysterious grace.
 
“Strong was the power of art to bid        25
  Arise such beauty out of stone,
Yet Paros might as well have hid
  Its wealth within its breast unknown,
As for brute Nature to regain
The fragments of the fallen fane.        30
 
“Who can rebuild these colonnades
  Where met the ancient festal host,
The peasant from Arcadia’s glades,
  The merchant from Ionia’s coast,
Gladdening their Grecian blood to stand        35
On one religious Fatherland?”
 
So in my angry discontent
  I cried, but calmer thoughts came on,
And gratitude with sorrow blent,
  And murmur turned to orison:        40
I thanked the gods for what had been,
And Nature for the present scene.
 
I felt that while in Greece remained
  Signs of that old heroic show,
Hope, Memory’s sister, so sustained,        45
  Would sink not altogether low,
And Grecian hearts once more might be
Combined in powerful amity.
 
Long ere the sun’s most curious ray
  Had touched the morning’s zone of pearl,        50
I and my boat were far away,
  Raised on the water’s freshening curl;
And barely ’twixt the rose and blue
The island’s rim was still in view.
 
So Delos rests upon my mind,        55
  A perfect vision of the night,
A picture by moon-rays designed,
  And shaded into black and bright,—
A true idea borne away,
Untroubled by the dreamless day.        60
 
 
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