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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: Helicon, the Mountain

The Fountain of Aganippe

By James Gates Percival (1795–1856)

(From Greece, from Mount Helicon)


Well did the early worshippers of song

Choose thee to be their place of pilgrimage,

That in thy quiet groves and still recesses

They might invoke, with due solemnity,

The boon-inspiring power. Here they would come,

From the blue islands, and the olive-groves

Of Thebes and Athens, and thy laurel-crowned

And golden banks, Alpheus, and the shores

Of far Ionia, where the wooing air

Pants with a softer breath through myrtle groves,

And thee, thou emerald gem, amid the foam

Of ocean, whence thy guardian goddess rose,

To be the world’s delight. From every land

That heard the echo of those flowing sounds,

That dropping honey, which, from eloquent lips,

Distilled persuasion, reverently they came,

Clad in white robes, and crowned with wreaths of bay,

And bearing golden harps and ivory citterns,

And round the marble temple, and the fountain

Of soft and gentle harmony, uplifted

The joyous pæan, through the bright-eyed day

Singing, till sunset threw its yellow veil

Round thy blue summit, Helicon, and Night

Sat on her purple cloud, and dipped her bough

Of cypress in Nepenthe, and then waved,

Over their leafy beds, oblivion

And holy dreams; and when their God arose,

And shook his yellow locks in the blue air,

And dropped his shining dews, then they began

Anew their solemn chant, and up the heights

They moved in measured march, bearing their hymns

To Hippocrene and the crowning rocks,

Whence they beheld Parnassus, white and bare,

Glittering among the clouds, a golden throne

Rich with a waste of gems; and, as it rose,

Touched with the sun’s first blaze, its forked peak

Seemed like twin spires of flame, curling and trembling

From earth to heaven. They saw,—and then they bowed,

And worshipped in their hearts,—their voices paused,

Their harps were mute, and fearful silence told,

More eloquent than words, their love and awe.