Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
Dion
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
(See full text.)

MOURN, hills and groves of Attica! and mourn
Ilissus, bending o’er thy classic urn!
Mourn, and lament for him whose spirit dreads
Your once sweet memory, studious walks and shades!
For him who to divinity aspired,        5
Not on the breath of popular applause,
But through dependence on the sacred laws
Framed in the schools where Wisdom dwelt retired,
Intent to trace the ideal path of right
(More fair than heaven’s broad causeway paved with stars)        10
Which Dion learned to measure with delight;
But He hath overleaped the eternal bars;
And, following guides whose craft holds no consent
With aught that breathes the ethereal element,
Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood,        15
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.
Whence doubts that came too late, and wishes vain,
Hollow excuses, and triumphant pain;
And oft his cogitations sink as low
As, through the abysses of a joyless heart,        20
The heaviest plummet of despair can go—
But whence that sudden check? that fearful start!
    He hears an uncouth sound—
    Anon his lifted eyes
Saw, at a long-drawn gallery’s dusky bound,        25
A shape of more than mortal size
And hideous aspect, stalking round and round!
    A woman’s garb the Phantom wore,
    And fiercely swept the marble floor,—
    Like Auster whirling to and fro,        30
    His force on Caspian foam to try;
Or Boreas when he scours the snow
That skins the plains of Thessaly,
Or when aloft on Mænalus he stops
His flight, ’mid eddying pine-tree tops!        35
 
“Avaunt, inexplicable Guest!—avaunt,”
Exclaimed the chieftain …
But Shapes that come not at an earthly call,
Will not depart when mortal voices bid;
Lords of the visionary eye whose lid,        40
Once raised, remains aghast, and will not fall!
 
Ill-fated Chief! there are whose hopes are built
Upon the ruins of thy glorious name;
Who, through the portals of one moment’s guilt,
Pursue thee with their deadly aim!        45
O matchless perfidy! portentous lust
Of monstrous crime!—that horror-striking blade,
Drawn in defiance of the gods, hath laid
The noble Syracusan low in dust!
Shuddered the walls,—the marble city wept,—        50
And sylvan places heaved a pensive sigh;
But in calm peace the appointed Victim slept,
As he had fallen, in magnanimity
Of spirit too capacious to require
That Destiny her course should change; too just        55
To his own native greatness to desire
That wretched boon, days lengthened by mistrust.
So were the hopeless troubles, that involved
The soul of Dion, instantly dissolved.
Released from life and cares of princely state,        60
He left this moral grafted on his Fate:
“Him only pleasure leads, and peace attends,
Him, only him, the shield of Jove defends,
Whose means are fair and spotless as his end.”
 
 
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