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.
From ‘Athens’
By Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
An Ode

ERE from under earth again like fire the violet kindle,
  Ere the holy buds and hoar on olive-branches bloom,
Ere the crescent of the last pale month of winter dwindle,
  Shrink, and fall as falls a dead leaf on the dead month’s tomb;
Round the hills whose heights the first-born olive-blossom brightened,        5
  Round the city brow-bound once with violets like a bride,
Up from under earth again a light that long since lightened
  Breaks, whence all the world took comfort as all time takes pride.
Pride have all men in their fathers that were free before them,
  In the warriors that begat us free-born pride have we;        10
But the fathers of their spirits, how many men adore them?
  With what rapture may we praise, who bade our souls be free?
Sons of Athens born in spirit and truth are all born free men:
  Most of all, we, nurtured where the north wind holds his reign;
Children all we sea-folk of the Salaminian seamen,        15
  Sons of them that beat back Persia, they that beat back Spain.
Since the songs of Greece fell silent, none like ours have risen;
  Since the sails of Greece fell slack, no ships have sailed like ours:
How should we lament not, if her spirit sit in prison?
  How should we rejoice not, if her wreaths renew their flowers?        20
All the world is sweeter, if the Athenian violet quicken;
  All the world is brighter, if the Athenian sun return;
All things foul on earth wax fainter, by that sun’s light stricken;
  All ill growths are withered, where those fragrant flower-lights burn.
All the wandering waves of seas with all their warring waters        25
  Roll the record on forever of the sea-fight there,
When the capes were battle’s lists, and all the straits were slaughter’s,
  And the myriad Medes as foam-flakes on the scattering air.
Ours the lightning was that cleared the north and lit the nations,
  But the light that gave the whole world light of old was she:        30
Ours an age or twain, but hers are endless generations:
  All the world is hers at heart, and most of all are we.

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