Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Modern Athens

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

Greece: Athens

Modern Athens

By Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)

IF Fate, though jealous of the second birth

Of names in history raised to high degree,

Permits that Athens yet once more shall be,

Let her be placed as suits the thought and worth

Of those who, during long oppression’s dearth,

Went out from Hydra and Ipsara free,

Making their homestead of the chainless sea,

And hardly touching their enslavéd earth.

So on the shore, in sight of Salamis,

On the Piræan and Phalerian bays,

With no harsh contrast of what was and is,

Let Athens rise; while in the distance stands,

Like something hardly raised by human hands,

The awful skeleton of ancient days!