Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Greece
By James G. Brooks (1801–1841)
 
1822.

LAND 1 of the brave! where lie inurn’d
The shrouded forms of mortal clay,
In whom the fire of valor burn’d
And blazed upon the battle’s fray:
Land, where the gallant Spartan few        5
Bled at Thermopylæ of yore,
When death his purple garment threw
On Helle’s consecrated shore!
 
Land of the Muse! within thy bowers
Her soul entrancing echoes rung,        10
While on their course the rapid hours
Paused at the melody she sung—
Till every grove and every hill,
And every stream that flow’d along,
From morn to night repeated still        15
The winning harmony of song.
 
Land of dead heroes! living slaves!
Shall glory gild thy clime no more?
Her banner float above thy waves
Where proudly it hath swept before?        20
Hath not remembrance then a charm
To break the fetters and the chain,
To bid thy children nerve the arm,
And strike for freedom once again?
 
No! coward souls! the light which shone        25
On Leuctra’s war-empurpled day,
The light which beam’d on Marathon,
Hath lost its splendor, ceased to play;
And thou art but a shadow now,
With helmet shatter’d—spear in rust—        30
Thy honor but a dream—and thou
Despised—degraded in the dust!
 
Where sleeps the spirit, that of old
Dash’d down to earth the Persian plume,
When the loud chant of triumph told        35
How fatal was the despot’s doom?—
The bold three hundred—where are they,
Who died on battle’s gory breast?
Tyrants have trampled on the clay,
Where death has hush’d them into rest.        40
 
Yet, Ida, yet upon thy hill
A glory shines of ages fled;
And fame her light is pouring still,
Not on the living, but the dead!
But ’t is the dim sepulchral light,        45
Which sheds a faint and feeble ray,
As moon-beams on the brow of night,
When tempests sweep upon their way.
 
Greece! yet awake thee from thy trance,
Behold thy banner waves afar;        50
Behold the glittering weapons glance
Along the gleaming front of war!
A gallant chief, of high emprize,
Is urging foremost in the field,
Who calls upon thee to arise        55
In might—in majesty reveal’d.
 
In vain in vain the hero calls—
In vain he sounds the trumpet loud!
His banner totters—see! it falls
In ruin, freedom’s battle shroud:        60
Thy children have no soul to dare
Such deeds as glorified their sires;
There valor ’s but a meteor’s glare,
Which gleams a moment, and expires.
 
Lost land! where genius made his reign,        65
And rear’d his golden arch on high;
Where science raised her sacred fane,
Its summits peering to the sky;
Upon thy clime the midnight deep
Of ignorance hath brooded long,        70
And in the tomb, forgotten, sleep
The sons of science and of song.
 
Thy sun hath set—the evening storm
Hath pass’d in giant fury by,
To blast the beauty of thy form,        75
And spread its pall upon the sky!
Gone is thy glory’s diadem,
And freedom never more shall cease
To pour her mournful requiem
O’er blighted, lost, degraded Greece!        80
 
Note 1. Brooks was born at Red-Hook, New York, in 1801. He is now one of the editors of the New York Morning Courier. He has had the direction of several literary journals, and became known to the public as a poet, by his verses under the signature of Florio. These have been widely read, and admired, both at home and in Europe. [back]
 
 
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