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

Asia Minor: Miletus

Ode to Miletos

By Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864)

MAIDEN there was whom Jove

Illuded into love,

Happy and pure was she;

Glorious from her the shore became,

And Helle lifted up her name

To shine eternal o’er the river-sea.

And many tears are shed

Upon thy bridal-bed,

Star of the swimmer in the lonely night!

Who with unbraided hair

Wipedst a breast so fair,

Bounding with toil, more bounding with delight.

But they whose prow hath past thy straits

And, ranged before Byzantion’s gates,

Bring to the God of sea the victim due,

Even from the altar raise their eyes,

And drop the chalice with surprise,

And at such grandeur have forgotten you.

At last there swells the hymn of praise,

And who inspires those sacred lays?

“The founder of the walls ye see.”

What human power could elevate

Those walls, that citadel, that gate?

“Miletos, O my sons! was he.”

Hail then, Miletos! hail, beloved town,

Parent of me and mine!

But let not power alone be thy renown,

Nor chiefs of ancient line.

Nor visits of the Gods, unless

They leave their thoughts below,

And teach us that we most should bless

Those to whom most we owe.

Restless is Wealth; the nerves of Power

Sink, as a lute’s in rain:

The Gods lend only for an hour

And then call back again

All else than Wisdom; she alone,

In Truth’s or Virtue’s form,

Descending from the starry throne

Through radiance and through storm,

Remains as long as godlike men

Afford her audience meet,

Nor Time nor War tread down agen

The traces of her feet.

Alway hast thou, Miletos, been the friend,

Protector, guardian, father, of the wise;

Therefor shall thy dominion never end

Till Fame, despoiled of voice and pinion, dies.

“With favoring shouts and flowers thrown fast behind,

Arctinos ran his race,

No wanderer he, alone and blind—

And Melesander was untorn by Thrace.

There have been, but not here,

Rich men who swept aside the royal feast

On child’s or bondman’s breast,

Bidding the wise and aged disappear.

Revere the aged and the wise,

Aspasia! but thy sandal is not worn

To trample on these things of scorn;

By his own sting the fire-bound scorpion dies.