Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Greece: Athens


By John Milton (1608–1674)

(From Paradise Regained, Book IV)

LOOK once more, ere we leave this specular mount,

Westward, much nearer by southwest behold

Where on the Ægean shore a city stands

Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil,

Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts

And eloquence, native to famous wits

Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,

City or surburban, studious walks and shades;

See there the olive grove of Academe,

Plato’s retirement, where the Attic bird

Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;

There, flowery hill, Hymettus, with the sound

Of bees’ industrious murmur, oft invites

To studious musing; there Ilissus rolls

His whispering stream: within the walls then view

The schools of ancient sages; his, who bred

Great Alexander to subdue the world,

Lyceum there, and painted Stoa next:

There shalt thou hear and learn the secret power

Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit

By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,

Æolian charms, and Dorian lyric odes,

And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,

Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called,

Whose poem Phœbus challenged for his own.

Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught

In chorus or iambic, teachers best

Of moral prudence, with delight received

In brief sententious precepts, while they treat

Of fate, and chance, and change in human life;

High actions and high passions best describing;

Thence to the famous orators repair,

Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence

Wielded at will that fierce democratie,

Shook the arsenal, and fulmined over Greece,

To Macedon and Artaxerxes’ throne.