Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Greece
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX.  1876–79.
Greece: Isles of Greece, The
The Isles of Greece
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
(From Don Juan)

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 Phœbus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,        5
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        10
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,        15
  I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
For, standing on the Persian’s grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
A king sate on the rocky brow
  Which looks o’er sea-born Salamis;        20
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,        25
  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?        30
’T is something, in the dearth of fame,
  Though linked among the fettered race,
To feel at least a patriot’s shame,
  Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here?        35
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!        40
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylæ!
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,
But one, arise,—we come, we come!”
’T is but the living who are dumb.
In vain,—in vain: strike other chords:
  Fill high the cup with Samian wine!        50
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
  And shed the blood of Scio’s vine!
Hark! rising to the ignoble call,
How answers each bold Bacchanal?
You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet;        55
  Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
  The nobler and the manlier one?
You have the letters Cadmus gave,—
Think ye he meant them for a slave?        60
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,—
A tyrant; but our masters then        65
Were still, at least, our countrymen.
The tyrant of the Chersonese
  Was freedom’s best and bravest friend;
That tyrant was Miltiades!
  O that the present hour would lend        70
Another despot of the kind!
Such chains as his were sure to bind.
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
  On Suli’s rock and Parga’s shore
Exists the remnant of a line        75
  Such as the Doric mothers bore;
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,
The Heracleidan blood might own.
Trust not for freedom to the Franks,—
  They have a king who buys and sells:        80
In native swords and native ranks
  The only hope of courage dwells;
But Turkish force and Latin fraud
Would break your shield, however broad.
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!        85
  Our virgins dance beneath the shade,—
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
Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
  Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
  There, swan-like, let me sing and die.
A land of slaves shall ne’er be mine,—        95
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!

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