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

Greece: Athens


By Seymour Green Wheeler Benjamin (1837–1914)

In the Temple of Theseus

AT Athens dwells the woman who hath bound

My spirit with a spell, and made me hers

Long as the warm blood pulses through my veins.

Where stands the fane of Theseus, there she dwells,

Within the shadow of Minerva’s shrine.

The cavern dungeon where old Socrates

The hemlock drank; the azure-vaulted Pnyx

Where great Demosthenes the state controlled

With matchless eloquence, are near the spot

Wherein she dwells, while circling round her rise

Her native mountains, smit with roseate gleams.

Between them, gray old olive groves and wealth

Of crimson flowers upon the storied plain,

Whose rocky bourne is silvered by the foam

Of the sapphire sea, lit by the islemen’s sails.

And there she dwells of whom I speak, amid

The glories of her native land, how fair.

While seasons change, her beauty changes not;

The fleeting years go on, but still abides

Her power to charm and steal the hearts of men.

Two thousand years have June’s soft zephyrs breathed

The rose’s perfume on that noble brow,

Two thousand years Hymettus’ bees have hummed

To her the blooming of the almond buds,

And still her features wear exquisite grace,

A tenderness ineffable, a smile

So beautiful, that from the first my soul

Was strangely moved, and to myself I thought,

O that those eyes could but return my gaze,

That round my neck those perfect arms would twine.

That I might gather kisses from those lips,

And hear her warble love’s delicious strains.

And thus I stood and mused upon her face,

Stirred by a futile longing, while she wove

The subtle thrall that made me hers forever.