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Demand whate'er you will,
Then a beam of fun outbroke
115 As the honest heart laughed through Those frank eyes of Breton blue: “ Since I needs must say my say,
Since on board the duty's done,
Since the others go ashore-
Name and deed alike are lost:
In his Croisic keeps alive the feat as it befell;
130 In memory of the man but for whom had gone to wrack All that France saved from the fight whence England bore
the beli. Go to Paris: rank on rank
Search the heroes flung pell-mell On the Louvre, face and flank!
135 You shall look long enough ere you come to Hervé Riel. 131. Wrack (D. wrak, wrack). Ruin, destruction. 132. Bore the bell.
Won the victory. 134. The heroes ... Louvre. The heroes whose pictures are in the Louvre, the great art gallery of Paris.
So, for better and for worse,
FIRST I salute this soil of the blessed, river and rock! Gods of my birthplace, dæmons and heroes, honor to all! Then I name thee, claim thee for our patron, co-equal in
praise -Ay, with Zeus the Defender, with Her of the ægis and spear!
4 * This poem was published in Dramatic Idyls in 1879. “ The story stands out with something of the joyful pride of a Greek statue among its Gothic associates.” In
490 B. C. the Persians, having razed Eretria, invaded Attica, and camped on the plain of Marathon. The Athenian army assembled and its generals sent a trained runner, Philippides or Pheidippides, to ask Lacedæmonian aid. He traversed the one hundred and forty miles between Athens and Sparta in forty-eight hours, and found the Spartans, who were celebrating their great national festival of the Carneia, backward from superstition or jealousy in joining their forces with the Athenians.
“And as to Pan, they say that Philippides (who was sent as a messenger to Lacedæmon when the Persians landed) reported that the Lacedæmonians were deferring their march : for it was their custom not to go out on a campaign till the moon was at its full. But he said that he had met with Pan near the Parthenian forest, and he had said that he was friendly to the Athenians, and would come out and help them at Marathon. Pan has been honored therefore for this message.”—Pausanias in Description of Greece.
For full account of the battle of Marathon, consult Creasy's Fifteen Decisive Battles. There seems no historic foundation for the closing incident related by Browning
This motto is the Greek: “Rejoice, we conquer.”' Rejoice was the usual Greek salutation, born of Marathon day.
2. Dæmons (Gr. daimon). Spirits.
4. Zeus. The supreme Greek god. Her of the ægis and spear. PallasAthene, the guardian goddess of Athens, the only deity whose authority was equal to that of Zeus. This ægis was a wonderful shield given to her by her father Zeus.
Also ye of the bow and the buskin, praised be your peer, Now, henceforth and forever,– latest to whom I upraise Hand and heart and voice! For Athens, leave pasture and
flock! Present to help, potent to save, Pan-patron I call!
Archons of Athens, topped by the tettix, see, I return!
you, “Run, Pheidippides, run and race, reach Sparta for aid! Persia has come, we are here, where is She?” Your com
mand I obeyed, Ran and raced: like stubble, some field which a fire runs
through Was the space between city and city; two days, two nights did I burn
15 Over the hills, under the dales, down pits and up peaks. Into their midst I broke: breath served but for “ Persia has
come! Persia bids Athens proffer slaves’-tribute, water and earth; Razed to the ground is Eretria—but Athens, shall Athens
sink, Drop into dust and die—the flower of Hellas utterly die, 20 Die with the wide world spitting at Sparta, the stupid, the
stander-by? Answer me quick, what helf, what hand do you stretch o'er How—when? No care for my limbs!—there's lightning in
destruction's brink? 5. Ye of the bow and the buskin. Artemis and Phoebus-Apollo, whose symbols these were.
8. Pan. The Greek god of the woods, always represented as having the legs
of a goat.
9. Archons (Gr. archo, rule). The chief magistrates of Athens after the cessation of kingly rule. Tettix (Gr.). A grasshopper. “The Athenians sometimes wore golden grasshoppers in their hair as badges of honor," because they thought those insects sprang from the ground, and they claimed for their ancestors similar
Razed. Destroyed utterly.
all and someFresh and fit your message to bear, once lips give it birth!”
O my Athens-Sparta love thee? Did Sparta respond? 25 Every face of her leered in a furrow of envy, mistrust, Malice,-each eye of her gave me its glitter of gratified hate! Gravely they turned to take counsel, to cast for excuses. I
stood Quivering,—the limbs of me fretting as fire frets, an inch
from dry wood: “ Persia has come, Athens asks aid, and still they debate ? Thunder, thou Zeus! Athene, are Spartans a quarry beyond Swing of thy spear? Phoibos and Artemis, clang them “Ye
No bolt launched from Olumpos! Lo, their answer at last! “ Has Persia come,-does Athens ask aid,-may Sparta befriend?
34 Nowise precipitate judgment—too weighty the issue at stake! Count we no time lost time which lags thro’ respect to the
Gods! Ponder that precept of old, “No warfare, whatever the odds In your favor, so long as the moon, half-orbed, is unable to
take Full-circle her state in the sky!' Already she rounds to it
fast: Athens must wait, patient as we—who judgment suspend.”
Athens,-except for that sparkle,—thy name, I had moldered to ash!
41 That sent a blaze thro' my blood; off, off and away was I
back, -Not one word to waste, one look to lose on the false and Yet “ O Gods of my land!” I cried, as each hillock and
33. Olumpos. A lofty mountain in Thessaly, whose cloudy summit was believed to be the home of the gods.
plain, Wood and stream, I knew, I named, rushing past them again, “Have ye kept faith, proved mindful of honors we paid you erewhile?
46 Vain was the filleted victim, the fulsome libation! Too rash Love in its choice, paid you so largely service so slack!
“ Oak and olive and bay,-I bid you cease to enwreathe Brows made bold by your leaf! Fade at the Persian's foot, You that, our patrons were pledged, should never adorn a slave!
51 Rather I hail thee, Parnes,-trust to thy wild waste tract! Treeless, herbless, lifeless mountain! What matter if
slacked My speed may hardly be, for homage to crag and to cave No deity deigns to drape with verdure?-at least I can breathe,
55 Fear in thee no fraud from the blind, no lie from the mute!” Such my cry as, rapid, I ran over Parnes' ridge; Gully and gap I clambered and cleared till, sudden, a bar Jutted, a stoppage of stone against me, blocking the way. Right! for I minded the hollow to traverse, the fissure across: Where I could enter, there I depart by! Night in the fosse?
61 Athens to aid? Tho' the dive were thro' Erebos, thus I
Animals about to be sacrificed to the gods were adorned with garlands. Every sacrifice was accompanied by a libation, wine poured on the ground in honor of the deity. Fulsome (ME. fulsum, ful, full + sum, some). Here used with its early meaning of full, rich, not its later acquired meaning of over-rich, hence disgusting.
49. Zeus is frequently depicted with his head garlanded with oak leaves. The olive tree, symbol of peace and plenty, was sacred to Athene, as was the bay or laurel to Apollo.
52. Parnes. These mountains were north of Athens, outside of Pheidippides'
61. Fosse (L. fossa). A ditch.