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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.

Turkey in Europe, and the Principalities: Dardanelles (Hellespont)

The Flight of Xerxes

By Maria Jane Jewsbury (1800–1833)

I SAW him on the battle-eve,

When like a king he bore him,—

Proud hosts in glittering helm and greave,

And prouder chiefs before him;

The warrior, and the warrior’s deeds,

The morrow, and the morrow’s meeds,

No daunting thoughts came o’er him;

He looked around him, and his eye

Defiance flashed to earth and sky.

He looked on ocean,—its broad breast

Was covered with his fleet;

On earth,—and saw from east to west

His bannered millions meet;

While rock and glen and cave and coast

Shook with the war-cry of that host,

The thunder of their feet!

He heard the imperial echoes ring,—

He heard, and felt himself a king.

I saw him next alone: nor camp

Nor chief his steps attended;

Nor banner blazed, nor courser’s tramp

With war-cries proudly blended.

He stood alone, whom fortune high

So lately seemed to deify;

He who with heaven contended

Fled like a fugitive and slave!

Behind, the foe; before, the wave.

He stood—fleet, army, treasure, gone—

Alone, and in despair!

But wave and wind swept ruthless on,

For they were monarchs there;

And Xerxes, in a single bark,

Where late his thousand ships were dark,

Must all their fury dare.

What a revenge,—a trophy, this,—

For thee, immortal Salamis!