Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Greece
By Katharine A. Ware (1797–1843)
 
WHERE Art’s wide realm in mouldering ruin sleeps,
And Science o’er departed glory weeps—
Where wreathing ivy shrouds in dark array,
The desolating progress of decay—
Where time is ranging with remorseless tread,        5
Amid the trophies of the mighty dead,
There, Grecia’s genius hovers o’er the scene
Of ruin’d grandeur—glories that have been
Views the vast wreck of power with kindling eye,
And kneels beside the tomb of Poesy.        10
Where fame’s proud relics strew her classic ground,
In gloomy majesty she glides around,
Pausing, with rapt devotion, to survey
The prostrate splendors of her early day.
Those ancient courts, where erst with wisdom fraught,        15
Her senate listen’d, and her sages taught;
Where that bold patriot, firm in virtue’s cause,
The immortal Solon, thunder’d forth his laws!
The temple raised to Theseus’ mighty name—
The storied arch of Hadrian’s deathless fame!        20
Raises her eye to where, with beam divine,
Apollo blush’d upon the Delphic shrine—
As bow’d that chief, to learn a nation’s fate,
Who gave his royal life, to save the state.
With pride, she seeks Dodona’s sacred grove,        25
Where towers the temple of imperial Jove,
Frowning, in ruin’d majesty sublime,
The proudest wreck that braves the blast of time!
Shows the broad Stadium, where the gymnic art,
Nerved the young arm, and energized the heart—        30
Gave a bold race of warriors to her field,
Whose godlike courage was their only shield!
Surveys that grot, where still her olives twine
In wild luxuriance o’er its fallen shrine—
Where Dian’s vestal daughters came to lave        35
Their snowy bosoms in Ionia’s wave.
All dark and tuneless are those laurel shades,
Which once enshrined Castalia’s classic maids—
For barbarous hands have raised their funeral pyre
And hush’d the breathings of their seraph lyre—        40
Save when the light of heaven around it plays,
And wakes the hallow’d chant of other days!
Oh! then, ’mid storied mounds, and mouldering urns,
Once more, the flame of inspiration burns!
Here, pilgrim Genius comes to muse around,        45
To wake one strain o’er consecrated ground!
From prostrate fanes, and altars of decay,
He learns the glory of their former day—
And, in the tender blush of twilight gloom,
He writes the story of some ruin’d tomb;        50
From dark oblivion snatches many a gem,
To glisten in his own fair diadem.
Immortal Byron! thou, whose courage plann’d
The rescue of that subjugated land—
Oh! hadst thou lived to rear thy giant glaive,        55
Thou ’dst bid the Christian cross triumphant wave!
Mark’d the pale crescent wave ’mid seas of blood,
And stamp’d proud Grecia’s freedom in the flood.
But, Oh! ’t was fate’s decree thou should’st expire,
Swan-like, amid the breathings of thy lyre—        60
Even in the sacred light of thine own song—
As sinks the glorious sun amid the throng
Of bright robed clouds, the pageantry of Heaven—
Thy last retiring beam to earth was given.
Where Scio’s isle blushes with Christian gore,        65
And recreant fiends still yell around her shore;
Where Missolonghi’s bloody plain extends,
’Mid war’s red blots, Athena’s Queen descends.
Mark, where she comes—in all the pomp of wo—
Darkling around her sable vestments flow—        70
With throbbing bosom in the tempest bare—
Wild, on the breeze, floats her unwreathed hair,
Though learning’s classic diadem is there.
Where fate’s dark clouds the face of heaven deform—
With steadfast brow—she meets the bursting storm,        75
Turns to Olympus with imploring eye,
And claims the ægis of her native sky.
Hark! round its base th’ eternal thunders roll,
And Jove’s own lightnings flash from pole to pole—
His voice is there! he bids creation save        80
Minerva’s “first born,” from a barbarous wave.
 
 
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