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

Introductory to Greece


By James Gates Percival (1795–1856)

LAND of bards and heroes, hail!

Land of gods and godlike men,

Thine were hearts that could not quail,—

Earth was glorious then;

Thine were souls that dared be free;

Power, and fame, and liberty.

In thy best and brightest hour,

Thou wert like the sun in heaven;

Like the bow that spans the shower,

Thou to earth wert given:

Nations turned to thee and prayed

Thou wouldst fold them in thy shade.

Like the infant Hercules,

Thou didst spring at once to power,

With the energy that frees

Millions in an hour:

From the wave, the rock, the glen,

Freedom called her chosen then.

What though thousands fought with one,

Did thy sons draw back in fear?

No,—with Ægis like a sun,

Pallas hovered near:

Wisdom with her diamond shield

Guarded well the fatal field.

Fair and bright her temple shone,

Meet for such divine abode;

There in majesty alone,

Loftily she trode:

Time in vain his bolt has hurled;

Still it stands, to awe the world.

Thine were all that rouse the spirit

From its dim and deathly dreams:

O, shall man again inherit

Such undying beams?

Lend thy kindling breath awhile;

Earth shall then in glory smile.

Land where every vale and mountain

Echoes to immortal strains,

Light is round the stream and fountain,

Light on all thy plains.

Never shall thy glory set;

Thou shalt be our beacon yet.

Yes,—for now thy sons are calling

To the tombs that hold their sires,—

One by one their chains are falling,—

They have lit their fires;

See! from peak to peak they run,

Bearing Freedom’s signal on.

On, from peak to peak, they rush;

Wide and far the glory flows;

Streams of light unearthly gush

From their crown of snows.

Hear ye not the warning call?

“Shall a nation rise and fall?”

No! forbid it, gracious Heaven!

Though a world look coldly on;

Be the unyielding spirit given,—

Be the battle won;

Or if hope desert the brave,

Be their land their common grave!

If they lose the glorious prize,

Be thy rocks a nation’s tomb,—

Man shall sink, no more to rise,

If they meet that doom!

Come, ye slaves! and read, and fear,—

Freedom’s last, best hope is here!