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Sweet odors in the sea-air, sweet and strange,
Shall tell the home-sick mariner of the shore; And, listening to thy murmur, he shall deem He hears the rustling leaf and running stream.
Once this soft turf, this rivulet's sands,
Were trampled by a hurrying crowd; And fiery hearts and armed hands
Encountered in the battle-cloud. Ah! never shall the land forget
How gushed the life-blood of her brave, Gushed, warm with hope and courage yet,
Upon the soil they fought to save! Now all is calm and fresh and still :
Alone the chirp of flitting bird, And talk of children on the hill,
And bell of wandering kine, are heard.
No solemn host goes trailing by
The black-mouthed gun and staggering wain; Men start not at the battle-cry:
Oh, be it never heard again!
Soon rested those who fought; but thou
Who minglest in the harder strife For truths which men receive not now,
Thy warfare only ends with life, — A friendless warfare, lingering long
Through weary day and weary year: A wild and many-weaponed throng.
Hang on thy front and flank and rear. Yet nerve thy spirit to the proof,
And blench not at thy chosen lot. The timid good may stand aloof;
The sage may frown: yet faint thou not, Nor heed the shaft too surely cast,
The foul and hissing bolt of scorn;
For with thy side shall dwell, at last,
The victory of endurance born.
Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;
The eternal years of God are hers:
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshipers.
Yea, though thou lie upon the dust
When they who helped thee flee in fear,
Die full of hope and manly trust
Like those who fell in battle here.
Another hand thy sword shall wield,
Another hand the standard wave,
Till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed
The blast of triumph o'er thy grave.
THE ANTIQUITY OF FREEDOM.
O FREEDOM! thou art not, as poets dream,
A fair young girl, with light and delicate limbs,
And wavy tresses gushing from the cap
With which the Roman master crowned his slave
When he took off the gyves. A bearded man,.
Armed to the teeth, art thou: one mailed hand
Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow,
Glorious in beauty though it be, is scarred
With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs
Are strong with struggling. Power at thee has launched
His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee:
They could not quench the life thou hast from Heaven.
Merciless power has dug thy dungeon deep;
And his swart armorers, by a thousand fires,
Have forged thy chain : yet, while he deems thee bound,
The links are shivered, and the prison-walls
Fall outward. Terribly thou springest forth,
As springs the flame above a burning pile,
And shoutest to the nations, who return
Thy shoutings, while the pale oppressor flies.
Thy birthright was not given by human hands:
Thou wert twin-born with man. In pleasant fields,
While yet our race was few, thou sat'st with him
To tend the quiet flock and watch the stars,
And teach the reed to utter simple airs.
Thou by his side, amid the tangled wood,
Didst war upon the panther and the wolf, —
His only foes; and thou with him didst draw
The earliest furrow on the mountain-side
Soft with the Deluge. Tyranny himself,
Thy enemy, although of reverend look,
Hoary with many years, and far obeyed,
Is later born than thou ; and, as he meets
The grave defiance of thine elder eye,
The usurper trembles in his fastnesses.
Thou shalt wax stronger with the lapse of years; But he shall fade into a feebler age,
Feebler, yet subtler. He shall weave his snares,
And spring them on thy careless steps, and clap
His withered hands, and from their ambush call
His hordes to fall upon thee. He shall send
Quaint maskers, wearing fair and gallant forms,
To catch thy gaze, and uttering graceful words
To charm thy ear; while his sly imps, by stealth,
Twine round thee threads of steel, — light thread on thread,
That grow to fetters; or bind down thy arms
With chains concealed in chaplets. Oh! not yet
Mayst thou unbrace thy corselet, nor lay by
Thy sword; nor yet, 0 Freedom! close thy lids
In slumber: for thine enemy never sleeps;
And thou must watch and combat till the day
Of the new earth and heaven.
O GODDESS! sing the wrath of Peleus' son,
Achilles; sing the deadly wrath that brought
Woes numberless upon the Greeks, and swept
To Hades many a valiant soul, and gave
Their limbs a prey to dogs, and birds of air:
For so had Jove appointed, from the time
When the two chiefs — Atrides, king of men,
And great Achilles — parted first as foes.
Which of the gods put strife between the chiefs,
That they should thus contend ? Latona's son,
And Jove's. Incensed against the king, he bade
A deadly pestilence appear among
The army; and the men were perishing.
For Atreus' son, with insult, had received
Chryses, the priest, who to the Grecian fleet
Came to redeem his daughter, offering
Uncounted ransom. In his hand he bore
The fillets of Apollo, archer-god,
Upon the golden scepter; and he sued
To all the Greeks, but chiefly to the sons
Of Atreus, the two leaders of the host :-
“Ye sons of Atreus, and ye other chiefs,
Well-greaved Achaians, may the gods who dwell
Upon Olympus give you to o’erthrow
The city of Priam, and in safety reach
Your homes! But give me my beloved child,
And take her ransom; honoring him who sends
His arrows far, — Apollo, son of Jove.”
Then all the other Greeks, applauding, bade
Revere the priest, and take the liberal gifts
He offered. But the counsel did not please
Atrides Agamemnon: he dismissed
The priest with scorn, and added threatening words:-
« Old man, let me not find thee loitering here
Beside the roomy ships, or coming back
Hereafter, lest the fillet thou dost bear,
And scepter of thy god, protect thee not.
This maiden I release not till old age
Shall overtake her in my Argive home,
Far from her native country, where her hand
Shall throw the shuttle and shall dress my couch.
Go! chafe me not, if thou wouldst safely go."
He spake : the aged man in fear obeyed
The mandate, and in silence walked apart
Along the many-sounding ocean-side;
And fervently he prayed the monarch-god,
Apollo, golden-haired Latona's son:-
“ Hear me, thou bearer of the silver bow,
Who guardest Chrysa and the holy isle
Of Cilla, and art lord in Tenedos!
O Smintheus ! if I ever helped to deck
Thy glorious temple, if I ever burned
Upon thy altar the fat thighs of goats
And bullocks, grant my prayer, and let thy shafts
Avenge upon the Greeks the tears I shed.”
So spake he, supplicating; and to him
Phæbus Apollo hearkened. Down he came,
Down from the summit of the Olympian mount,
Wrathful in heart. His shoulders bore the bow
And hollow quiver : there the arrows rang
Upon the shoulders of the angry god,
As on he moved. He came as comes the night;
And, seated from the ships aloof, sent forth
An arrow : terrible was heard the clang
Of that resplendent bow. At first he smote
The mules and the swift dogs; and then on man
He turned the deadly arrow. All around
Glared evermore the frequent funeral-piles.
Nine days already had his shafts been showered
Among the host; and now, upon the tenth,
Achilles called the people of the camp
To council. Juno, of the snow-white arms,
Had moved his mind to this; for she beheld
With sorrow that the men were perishing.
And when the assembly met, and now was full,
Stood swift Achilles in the midst, and said, -
“ To me it seems, Atrides, that 'twere well, Since now our aim is baffled, to return
Ilomeward, if death o'ertake us not ; for war
And pestilence at once destroy the Greeks.
But let us first consult some seer or priest
Or dream-interpreter, - for even dreams
Are sent by Jove, — and ask him by what cause
Phæbus Apollo has been angered thus, –
If by neglected vows or hecatombs;
And whether savor of fat bulls and goats
May move the god to stay the pestilence.”
He spake, and took again his seat. And next
Rose Calchas, son of Thestor, and the chief
Of augurs, one to whom were known things past
And present and to come. Ile, through the art
Of divination which Apollo gave,
Had guided Ilium-ward the ships of Greece.
With words well ordered warily he spake:-
“ Achilles, loved of Jove, thou biddest me Explain the wrath of Phoebus, monarch-god, Who sends afar his arrows. Willingly Will I make known the cause: but covenant thou, And swear to stand prepared, by word and hand, To bring me succor; for my mind misgives That he who rules the Argives, and to whom The Achaian race are subject, will be wroth. A sovereign is too strong for humbler men ; And, though he keep his choler down a while, It rankles, till he sate it, in his heart. And now consider: wilt thou hold me safe ? "
Achilles, the swift-footed, answered thus:“ Fear nothing, but speak boldly out whate'er Thou knowest, and declare the will of leaven; For by Apollo, dear to Jove, whom thou, Calchas, dost pray to when thou givest forth The sacred oracles to men of Greece, No man, while yet I live, and see the light Of day, shall lay a violent hand on thee Among our roomy ships; no man of all The Grecian armies, though thou name the name Of Agamemnon, whose high boast it is To stand in power and rank above them all.”
Encouraged thus, the blameless seer went on :“ 'Tis not neglected vows or hecatombs
That move him, but the insult shown his priest, Whom Agamemnon spurned when he refused To set his daughter free, and to receive Her ransom. Therefore sends the archer-god These woes upon us, and will send them still, Nor ever will withdraw his heavy hand From our destruction, till the dark-eyed maid,