Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Solon Speaks his Mind to the Athenians
By Solon (c. 630–560 B.C.)
Translation of Alphonso Gerald Newcomer

NEVER shall this our city fall by fate
Of Zeus and the blest gods from her estate,
  So noble a warder, Pallas Athena, stands
With hands uplifted at the city’s gate.
But her own citizens do strip and slay,        5
Led by the folly of their hearts astray,
  And the unjust temper of her demagogues,—
Whose pride will tumble to its fall some day.
For they know not to hold in check their greed,
Nor soberly on the spread feast to feed;        10
  But still by lawless deeds enrich themselves,
And spare not for the gods’ or people’s need.
They take but a thief’s count of thine and mine;
They care no whit for Justice’s holy shrine,—
  Who sits in silence, knowing what things are done,        15
Yet in the end brings punishment condign.
See this incurable sore the State consume!
Oh, rapid are her strides to slavery’s doom,
  Who stirs up civil strife and sleeping war
That cuts down many a young man in his bloom.        20
Such are the evils rife at home; while lo,
To foreign shores in droves the poor-folk go,
  Sold, and perforce bound with disfiguring chains,
And knowing all the shame that bondsmen know.
So from the assembly-place to each fireside        25
The evil spreads; and though the court-doors bide
  Its bold assault, over the wall it leaps
And finds them that in inmost chambers hide.—
Thus to the Athenians to speak, constrains
My soul: Ill fares the State where License reigns;        30
  But Law brings order and concordant peace,
And fastens on the unjust, speedy chains.
She tames, and checks, and chastens; blasts the bud
Of springing folly; cools the intemperate blood;
  Makes straight the crooked;—she draws after her        35
All right and wisdom like a tide at flood.

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