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vigor along all the fainting hosts that wait for them in mountain and forest and valley and plain, till the whole drooping continent lifts up its rejoicing face, and mingles its laughter with the sea that has waked it from its fevered sleep, and poured its tides of returning life through all its shriveled arteries.
The ocean is not the idle creature that it seems, with its vast and lazy length stretched between the continents, with its huge bulk sleeping along the shore, or tumbling in aimless fury from pole to pole. It is a mighty giant, who, leaving his oozy bed, comes up upon the land to spend his strength in the service of man. He there allows his captors to chain him in prisons of stone and iron, to bind his shoulders to the wheel, and set him to grind the food of the nations, and weave the garments of the world. The mighty shaft, which that wheel turns, runs out into all the lands; and geared and belted to that center of power, ten thousand times ten thousand clanking engines roll their cylinders, and ply their hammers, and drive their million shuttles.
Thus the sea keeps all our mills and factories in motion. Thus the sea spins our thread and weaves our cloth. It is the sea that cuts our iron bars like wax, rolls them out into proper thinness, or piles them up in the solid shaft strong enough to be the pivot of a revolving planet. It is the sea that tunnels the mountains, and bores the mine, and lifts the coal from its sunless depths, and the ore from its rocky bed. It is the sea that lays the iron track, that builds the iron horse, that fills his nostrils with fiery breath, and sends his tireless hoofs thundering across the longitudes. It is the power of the sea that is doing for man all those mightiest works that would be else impossible. It is by this power that he is to level the
mountains, to tame the wildernesses, to subdue the continents, to throw his pathways around the globe, and make his nearest approaches to omnipresence and omnipotence.
LXIII. - GREECE, IN 1809.
GEORGE GORDON BYRON, Lord Byron, was born in London, January 22, 1788; and died at Missolonghi, in Greece, April 19, 1824. In March, 1812, he published the first two cantos of his splendid poem, “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage,” which produced an impression upon the public almost without precedent in English literature, and gained him the very highest place among the poets of the day.
Lord Byron's poetry has, in an intellectual point of view, some great and enduring excellences. In description and in the expression of passion he is unrivaled. His poetry abounds with passages of melting tenderness and exquisite sweetness, which take captive and bear away the susceptible heart. His wit, too, is playful and brilliant, and his sarcasm venomous and blistering. His leading characteristic is energy: he is never languid or tame; and in his highest moods, his words flash and burn like lightning from the cloud, and hurry the reader along with the breathless speed of the tempest.
Much of Lord Byron's poetry is objectionable in a moral point of view. Some of it ministers undisguisedly to the evil passions, and confounds the distinctions between right and wrong; and still more of it is false and morbid in its tone, and teaches, directly or indirectly, the mischievous and irreligious doctrine, that the unhappiness of men is just in proportion to their intellectual superiority.
The following extract is from “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.” Thermopylæ is a narrow pass leading from Thessaly into Southern Greece, where Leonidas and a small band of Spartan heroes, resisting an immense Persian host, were all slain. The town of Sparta, or Lacedæmon, was upon the river Eurotas. Thrasybulus was an Athenian general who overthrew the power of the Thirty Tyrants in Athens, B. C. 403. He first seized the fortress of Phyle, which was about fifteen miles from Athens. The Helots were slaves to the Spartans. Colonna, or Colonni, anciently Sunium, is a promontory forming the southern extremity of Attica where there was a temple to Minerva, who was also called Tritonia. Hymettus and Pentelicus were mountains near Athens, the former famous for honey, and the latter for marble. The modern name of Pentelicus is Mendeli. Athena was a name by which the Greeks called Minerva, the literary goddess of Athens.
AIR Greece ! sad relic of departed worth !
Immortal, though no more ; though fallen, great! Who now shall lead thy scattered children forth,
And long-accustomed bondage uncreate ?
Not such thy sons who whilom* did await
In bleak Thermopyla's sepulchral strait :
Thou sat'st with Thrasybulus and his train,
Dims the green beauties of thine Attic plain ?
Not thirty tyrants now enforce the chain, But every
carlet 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, unmanned.
In all, save form alone, how changed ! and who
That marks the fire still sparkling in each eye, Who but would deem their bosoms burned anew
With thy unquenchéd beam, lost Liberty !
And many dream withal the hour is nigh
For foreign arms and aid they fondly sigh,
Hereditary bondmen! know ye not
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow } By their right arms the conquest must be wrought :
Will Gaul, or 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 thy years of shame.
† A rude man.
When riseth Lacedæmon's hardihood,
When Thebes Epaminondas rears again, When Athens' children are with hearts endued,
When Grecian mothers shall give birth to men,
Then thou mayst be restored ; but not till then. A thousand years scarce serve to form a state ;
An hour may lay it in the dust; and when Can man its shattered splendor renovate ? Recall its virtues back, and vanquish Time and Fate?
And yet, how lovely, in thine age of woe,
, Land of lost gods, and godlike men, art thou ! Thy vales of evergreen, thy hills of snow,
Proclaim thee Nature's varied favorite now.
Thy fanes, thy temples, to thy surface bow,
rustic plow :
Save where some solitary column mourns
Above its prostrate brethren of the cave; Save where Tritonia's airy shrine adorns
Colonna's cliff, and gleams along the wave ;
Save o'er some warrior's half-forgotten grave, Where the gray stones and unmolested grass
Ages, but not oblivion, feebly brave, While strangers only, not regardless pass, Lingering, like me, perchance, to gaze and sigh, “ Alas!"
Yet are thy skies as blue, thy crags as wild ;
Sweet are thy groves and verdant are thy fields,
And still his honeyed wealth Hymettus yields.
The freeborn wanderer of thy mountain air.
Apollo still thy long, long summer gilds,
Where'er we tread 't is haunted, holy ground;
No earth of thine is lost in vulgar mold ; But one vast realm of wonder spreads around,
And all the Muse's tales seem truly told,
Till the sense aches with gazing, to behold The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt upon.
Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and wold, * Defies the power which crushed thy temples gone : Age shakes Athena's tower, but spares gray Marathon.
Long, to the remnants of thy splendor past,
Shall pilgrims pensive, but unwearied, throng; Long shall the voyager, with th' Ionian blast,
Hail the bright clime of battle and of song.
Long shall thine annals and immortal tongue
Boast of the aged ! lesson of the young!
LXIV. — THANATOPSIS.
10 him who, in the love of Nature, holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language. For his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile * A wood. † From two Greek words, signifying a view of death.