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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: Delphi (Castri)

The Storm of Delphi

By Felicia Hemans (1793–1835)

FAR through the Delphian shades

An Eastern trumpet rung!

And the startled eagle rushed on high,

With sounding flight through the fiery sky,

And banners o’er the shadowy glades

To the sweeping winds were flung.

Banners, with deep-red gold

All waving, as a flame,

And a fitful glance from the bright spear-head

On the dim wood-paths of the mountain shed,

And a peal of Asia’s war-notes told

That in arms the Persian came.

He came, with starry gems

On his quiver and his crest;

With starry gems, at whose heart the day

Of the cloudless orient burning lay,

And they cast a gleam on the laurel-stems,

As onward his thousands pressed.

But a gloom fell o’er their way,

And a heavy moan went by!

A moan, yet not like the wind’s low swell,

When its voice grows wild amidst cave and dell,

But a mortal murmur of dismay,

Or a warrior’s dying sigh!

A gloom fell o’er their way!

’T was not the shadow cast

By the dark pine-boughs as they passed the blue

Of the Grecian heavens with their solemn hue;

The air was filled with a mightier sway,

But on the spearmen passed!

And hollow to their tread,

Came the echoes of the ground,

And banners drooped, as with dews o’erborne,

And the wailing blast of the battle-horn

Had an altered cadence, dull and dead,

Of strange foreboding sound.

But they blew a louder strain,

When the steep defiles were passed!

And afar the crowned Parnassus rose,

To shine through heaven with his radiant snows,

And in golden light the Delphian fane

Before them stood at last!

In golden light it stood,

Midst the laurels gleaming lone,

For the sun-god yet, with a lovely smile,

O’er its graceful pillars looked awhile,

Though the stormy shade on cliff and wood

Grew deep, round its mountain-throne.

And the Persians gave a shout!

But the marble walls replied,

With a clash of steel, and a sullen roar

Like heavy wheels on the ocean shore,

And a savage trumpet’s note pealed out,

Till their hearts for terror died!

On the armor of the god

Then a viewless hand was laid;

There were helm and spear, with a clanging din,

And corselet brought from the shrine within,

From the inmost shrine of the dread abode,

And before its front arrayed.

And a sudden silence fell

Through the dim and loaded air!

On the wild bird’s wing, and the myrtle-spray,

And the very founts, in their silvery way,

With a weight of sleep came down the spell,

Till man grew breathless there.

But the pause was broken soon!

’T was not by song or lyre;

For the Delphian maids had left their bowers,

And the hearths were lone in the city’s towers,

But there burst a sound through the misty noon,

That battle-noon of fire!

It burst from earth and heaven!

It rolled from crag and cloud!

For a moment of the mountain-blast,

With a thousand stormy voices passed,

And the purple gloom of the sky was riven,

When the thunder pealed aloud.

And the lightnings in their play

Flashed forth, like javelins thrown;

Like sun-darts winged from the silver bow,

They smote the spear and the turbaned brow,

And the bright gems flew from the crests like spray,

And the banners were struck down!

And the massy oak-boughs crashed

To the fire-bolts from on high,

And the forest lent its billowy roar,

While the glorious tempest onward bore,

And lit the streams, as they foamed and dashed,

With the fierce rain sweeping by.

Then rushed the Delphian men

On the pale and scattered host;

Like the joyous burst of a flashing wave,

They rushed from the dim Corycian cave,

And the singing blast o’er wood and glen

Rolled on, with the spears they tossed.

There were cries of wild dismay,

There were shouts of warrior-glee,

There were savage sounds of the tempest’s mirth,

That shook the realm of their eagle-birth;

But the mount of song, when they died away,

Still rose, with its temple, free!

And the Pæan swelled erelong,

Io Pæan! from the fane;

Io Pæan! for the war-array,

On the crowned Parnassus riven that day!

Thou shalt rise as free, thou mount of song!

With thy bounding streams again.