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

Greece: Athens


By James Thomson (1834–1882)

(From Liberty)

OF softer genius, but not less intent

To seize the palm of empire, Athens rose.

Where, with bright marbles big and future pomp,—

Hymettus spread, amid the scented sky,

His thymy treasures to the laboring bee,

And to botanic hand the stores of health;

Wrapt in a soul-attenuating clime,

Between Ilissus and Cephissus glowed

This hive of science, shedding sweets divine,

Of active arts, and animated arms.

There, passionate for me, an easy-moved,

A quick, refined, a delicate, humane,

Enlightened people reigned. Oft on the brink

Of ruin, hurried by the charm of speech,

Inforcing hasty counsel immature,

Tottered the rash Democracy; unpoised,

And by the rage devoured, that ever tears

A populace unequal; part too rich,

And part or fierce with want or abject grown.

Solon at last, their mild restorer, rose:

Allayed the tempest; to the calm of laws

Reduced the settling whole; and, with the weight

Which the two senates to the public lent,

As with an anchor fixed the driving state.