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

Greece: Missolonghi

Last Days of Byron

By Charlotte Fiske Bates (1838–1916)

JUST at the point

Of facing death in fronting Moslem steel,

Lo! in the fever’s silent strife he sank!

Out of the valorous yet chaotic Greeks

His skill and nerve had gathered ordered ranks.

May not the chaos of his passions first

Have heard “light” summoned, and have felt its dawn?

May not the liberty of God’s own truth

Have struck some shackles of his bondage off

While he was seeking to make others free?

Amid the blackness we must see and shun

Gleams out a light wherein is read the hint

Of the surpassing glory sin eclipsed.

Who knows what age or illness might have wrought;

Those two reformers of an evil life,

That have of vilest sinners moulded saints?

Be it not ours to cover vice of his,

But to remember we have seen his worst,

Which most men hide as niggards do their hoard.

While thought drinks in the purest tones he struck,

All her nerves tremble with bewildered joy:

Round some creations such a splendor burns,

He seems himself the very lyric god,

Encircling whom great passions of the soul

With linkéd hands, like maids of Helicon,

Accord his power in faultless harmonies.

Greece lives forever in his splendid verse,

Which, should her relics utter ruins lie,

Could bound her glory with immortal lines.

Fitting that he who loved and sang of her

Should breathe his life out on her lovely shore!

Wave-beaten Missolonghi, it is thou

That hold’st the parting secrets of that soul

Not walled, like thee, with strength, but like thyself

Beaten forever by the mighty sea!