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Lord Byron (1788–1824). Poetry of Byron. 1881.

II. Descriptive and Narrative

Greece, III

(Childe Harold, Canto ii. Stanzas 73–77.)

FAIR GREECE! sad relic of departed worth!

Immortal, though no more; though fallen, great!

Who now shall lead thy scatter’d children forth,

And long accustom’d bondage uncreate?

Not such thy sons who whilome did await,

The hopeless warriors of a willing doom,

In bleak Thermopylæ’s sepulchral strait—

Oh! who that gallant spirit shall resume,

Leap from Eurotas’ banks, and call thee from the tomb?

Spirit of freedom! when on Phyle’s brow

Thou sat’st with Thrasybulus and his train,

Couldst thou forebode the dismal hour which now

Dims the green beauties of thine Attic plain?

Not thirty tyrants now enforce the chain,

But every carle can lord it o’er thy land;

Nor rise thy sons, but idly rail in vain,

Trembling beneath the scourge of Turkish hand,

From birth till death enslaved; in word, in deed, unmann’d.

In all save form alone, how changed! and who

That marks the fire still sparkling in each eye,

Who but would deem their bosoms burn’d anew

With thy unquenched beam, lost Liberty!

And many dream withal the hour is nigh

That gives them back their fathers’ heritage:

For foreign arms and aid they fondly sigh,

Nor solely dare encounter hostile rage,

Or tear their name defiled from Slavery’s mournful page.

Hereditary bondsmen! know ye not

Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?

By their right arms the conquest must be wrought?

Will Gaul of Muscovite redress ye? no!

True, they may lay your proud despoilers low,

But not for you will Freedom’s altars flame.

Shades of the Helots! triumph o’er your foe!

Greece! change thy lords, thy state is still the same;

Thy glorious day is o’er, but not thine years of shame.

The city won for Allah from the Giaour,

The Giaour from Othman’s race again may wrest;

And the Serai’s impenetrable tower

Receive the fiery Frank, her former guest;

Or Wahab’s rebel brood who dared divest

The prophet’s tomb of all its pious spoil,

May wind their path of blood along the West;

But ne’er will freedom seek this fated soil,

But slave succeed to slave through years of endless toil.