Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Asia Minor: Crete (Candia), the Island


By Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892)

SPERANZA, Speranza! we felt through the night-time

The thrill of thy voice and the joy of thy lyre;

Heard thee far off singing sweet of the bright time

Prophets foretold in their large heart’s desire.

Strains floated by in the sad waning moonlight,

While we stood calling thy name from afar.

Come to thy summer bowers, queen of high noonlight,

Full-armed and splendid,—our souls’ morning-star!

Come as thou camest when Italy panted

And leapt to her feet, o’er her dukes and her kings.

Come, like the new life America planted

To blossom and yield through her ages of springs.

Come to the spirits benighted, unlettered,

Unbarring the portals of science and love.

Come to the bodies enslaved, tasked, and fettered;

Build up the freedom no tyrant can move.

O, they are grappling for life,—just for breathing;

Hoping naught, asking naught,—only to stand;

Only to stand with their arms interwreathing,

Brotherlike, bound to their own fatherland.

Faintly they hear thee. “Speranza, Speranza!”

They call in the gloom. Are the echoes all dead?

Comes there no voice from Mount Ida in answer?

Shines there no star in the pale morning-red?

Must the fierce ranks of the Ottoman Nero

Trample their life out with barbarous feet?

Is there no god, no Olympian hero,

Left on thy mountains, O desolate Crete?

O, shame on the nations who sent the Crusaders

To wrest from the Turk the dead stones of a tomb,

Yet give a live race to the savage invaders,

And lift not a finger to lighten its gloom!

And shame to proud France, who has opened with greeting

To the red-handed tyrant her welcoming doors;

And shame to old England, that welcome repeating,

That brings the crowned butcher a guest to her shores!

Ah, well! Heaven wills that the selfish should blunder.

The tyrants are deaf, but the people know well

How God in the heavens sits holding the thunder,

That strikes to its centre the kingdom of hell.

For sooner or later—no seer can foreknow it—

Falls the swift bolt, and the thrones are ablaze.

Time yet shall re-echo the lay of the poet,

And Greece shall live over her happiest days.