Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
A Galley Slave of Sidon
By William Talbot Allison (1874–1941)
A FAIR-HAIRED slave of Sidon, what to him
  Her dream of empire and her fame?
Chained to the trireme’s oar, defiant, grim,
  He cries his curses on her name.
And what to him her purple pride, her quest        5
  For new dominions, unknown seas,
And all the untouched wonders of the west,
  And apples of Hesperides?
Dull his poor eyes to pomp, and dead to dreams
  His withered heart; his Dacian home        10
All but forgot; faint and far-off the screams
  Of his young brood destroyed by Rome.
How can his sullen eyes see past the oar
  That holds him to his daily death?
Can Sidon’s prayers for her great quest be more        15
  To this dull slave than idle breath?
To him the cheers, the tumult on the quay,
  Are hollow echoes on the wind;
The chiefs of Sidon seek the outer sea,
  Fame lures them far, and Fate is blind.
*        *        *        *        *
But Sidon’s hopes were doomed, and fickle Fate
  Denied the splendid galley’s quest;
Fate heard the slave’s prayer daily hissed in hate,—
  His quest was death, his hope was rest.

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