Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Polydorus and Maron (from Leonidas, Book IX)
By Richard Glover (1712–1785)
 
  ‘I TOO, like them, from Lacedæmon spring,
Like them instructed once to poise the spear,
To lift the ponderous shield. Ill destined wretch!
Thy arm is grown enervate, and would sink
Beneath a buckler’s weight. Malignant fates,        5
Who have compelled my free-born hand to change
The warrior’s arms for ignominious bonds;
Would you compensate for my chains, my shame,
My ten years anguish, and the fell despair,
Which on my youth have preyed; relenting once,        10
Grant I may bear my buckler to the field,
And, known a Spartan, seek the shades below!’
  ‘Why to be known a Spartan must thou seek
The shades below?’ Impatient Maron spake.
‘Live, and be known a Spartan by thy deeds;        15
Live, and enjoy thy dignity of birth;
Live, and perform the duties which become
A citizen of Sparta. Still thy brow
Frowns gloomy, still unyielding. He who leads
Our band, all fathers of a noble race,        20
Will ne’er permit thy barren day to close
Without an offspring to uphold the state.’
  ‘He will,’ replies the brother in a glow,
Prevailing o’er the paleness of his cheek,
‘He will permit me to complete by death        25
The measure of my duty; will permit
Me to achieve a service, which no hand
But mine can render, to adorn his fall
With double lustre, strike the barbarous foe
With endless terror, and avenge the shame        30
Of an enslaved Laconian.’ Closing here
His words mysterious, quick he turned away
To find the tent of Agis. There his hand
In grateful sorrow ministered her aid;
While the humane, the hospitable care        35
Of Agis, gently by her lover’s corse
On one sad bier the pallid beauties laid
Of Ariena. He from bondage freed
Four eastern captives, whom his generous arm
That day had spared in battle; then began        40
This solemn charge. ‘You, Persians, whom my sword
Acquired in war, unransomed, shall depart.
To you I render freedom which you sought
To wrest from me. One recompense I ask,
And one alone. Transport to Asia’s camp        45
This bleeding princess. Bid the Persian king
Weep o’er this flow’r, untimely cut in bloom.
Then say, th’ all-judging pow’rs have thus ordained.
Thou, whose ambition o’er the groaning earth
Leads desolation; o’er the nations spreads        50
Calamity and tears; thou first shalt mourn,
And through thy house destruction first shalt range.’
 
 
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