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.
 
Greece: Helicon, the Mountain
The Flowers of Helicon
Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)
 
THE SOLITUDES of Helicon
  Are rife with gay and scented flowers,
Shining the marble rocks upon,
  Or mid the valley’s oaken bowers;
And ever since young Fancy placed        5
  The Hieron of the Muses here,
Have ceaseless generations graced
  This airy temple year by year.
 
But those more bright, more precious, flowers
  With which old Greece the Muses wooed,        10
The Art whose varied forms and powers
  Charmed the poetic multitude,
The Thought that from each deep recess
  And fissure of the teeming mind
Sent up its odorous fruitfulness,—        15
  What have those glories left behind?
 
For from those generous calices
  The vegetative virtue shed,
Flew over distant lands and seas,
  Waking wide nations from the dead;        20
And e’er the parent plants o’erthrown
  Gave place to rank and noisome weed,
The giant Roman world was sown
  Throughout with that ennobling seed.
 
And downward thence to latest days        25
  The heritage of Beauty fell,
And Grecian forms and Grecian lays
  Prolonged their humanizing spell,
Till, when new worlds for man to win
  The Atlantic’s riven waves disclose,        30
The wildernesses there begin
  To blossom with the Grecian rose.
 
And all this while in barren shame
  Their native land remote reclines,
A mocked and miserable name        35
  Round which some withered ivy twines;
Where, wandering mid the broken tombs,
  The remnant of the race forget
That ever with such royal blooms
  This Garden of the Soul was set.        40
 
O breezes of the wealthy West!
  Why bear ye not on grateful wings
The seeds of all your life has blest
  Back to their being’s early springs?
Why fill ye not these plains with hopes        45
  To bear the treasures once they bore,
And to these Heliconian slopes
  Transport civility and lore?
 
For now, at least, the soil is free,
  Now that one strong reviving breath        50
Has chased that Eastern tyranny
  Which to the Greek was ever death;
Now that, though weak with age and wrongs,
  And bent beneath the recent chain,
This motherland of Greece belongs        55
  To her own Western world again.
 
 
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