Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Greece
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX.  1876–79.
 
Introductory to Greece
Grecian Ode
Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814–1902)
 
YES, yes, ’t is Greece! full many a fane
  Around me gleams, as white
As when it gladdened cape or plain
  The first time with its light;
And living choirs, far-eyed and virgin,        5
Once more through Time’s old shade emerging,
With dew-brushed sandal and soft sound
Salute the dedicated ground.
 
Each hill of asphodel and bays
  Sufficient deems its height        10
If steep enough its arch to raise
  A temple into light.
From cape to cape, across the deep
The “winged Pines” in panic sweep,—
Among their forest-sires so ran        15
Shy wood-nymphs in the days of Pan!
 
In every bay the yearning billows
  Swell up, as proud as when
White Nereids slid from purple pillows
  Under old Homer’s ken.        20
Above them still the Acacia throws
The warm shower of her sun-touched snows
Profusely as when Zephyr first
Deflowered the blooms himself had nursed.
 
Those theatres the white cliffs gird,        25
  Those hollows gray and wide,
With tamarisk feathered, and moss-furred,
  Those blue rifts far descried,
Those sinuous streams that blushing wander
Through labyrinthine oleander,        30
Those crocus mounds, that wind-flower hill,—
Hail, ancient land! ’t is Hellas still!
 
Range beyond range the mountains rise;
  Smooth platform, and meet stage
If demigods for chariot prize        35
  Fraternal strife should wage.
Glad clouds are launched along the wind,
As though each snowy tent enshrined
Olympian choirs borne lightly by
With sound of spheral melody.        40
 
Behold that goat yon rift beneath,
  Eying those rocks pine-cloven!
Nor lacks yon mound its living wreath
  Of goatherds dance-inwoven,
Now measuring forth with Attic grace        45
(Like figures round a sculptured vase)
The accent of some mythic song,
Now hurled, a Bacchic group, along.
 
That old man ’neath the palm who sits
  Trolls loud a merry lay;        50
Round him as genial fancy flits
  As when his month was May.
Still from the nectared air he quaffs
As happy health, as gayly laughs,
As when he clomb yon breeze-swept hill        55
And see, those maidens fly him still!
 
Yon mighty ilex, vast and grave,
  Flings far its restless shadow;
But through its trunk, a windowed cave,
  Long lights divide the meadow:        60
Its roots all round like serpents creep,
And honey-dews its branches steep:
Thus beamed Dodona’s oak afar
Fawn-haunted and oracular.
 
What vale was that wherein the Nine        65
  Were used with harmony to play?
Between the juniper and vine
  They roam each vale to-day!
What stream was that o’er which, flower-wreathed,
Her passion Aphrodité breathed?        70
Each lilied bank that stays each rill
From that wild breath is quivering still!
 
Yon children chasing the wild bees
  Have lips as full and fair
As Plato had, or Sophocles,        75
  When bees sought honey there.
But song of bard or sage’s lore
Those fields ennoble now no more:
It is not Greece,—it must not be,—
And yet, look up,—the land is free!        80
 
I gazed round Marathon. The plain
  In peaceful sunshine slept;
Eternal Sabbath there her reign
  Inviolably kept:
“Is this the battle-field?” I cried.        85
An eagle from on high replied
With shade far cast and clangor shrill
“Yes, yes,—’t is Hellas, Hellas still!”
 
 
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