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Yea, though thou lie upon the dust
When they who helped thee flee in fear,
Die full of hope and manly trust
Like those who fell in battle here.
Another hand thy sword shall wield,
Another hand the standard wave,
Till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed
The blast of triumph o'er thy grave.
THE ANTIQUITY OF FREEDOM.
O FREEDOM I thou art not, as poets dream,
A fair young girl, with light and delicate limbs,
And wavy tresses gushing from the cap
With which the Roman master crowned his slave
When he took off the gyves. A bearded man,
Armed to the teeth, art thou : one mailed hand
Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow,
Glorious in beauty though it be, is scarred
With tokens of old wars ; thy massive limbs
Are strong with struggling. Power at thee has launched
His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee :
They could not quench the life thou hast from Heaven.
Merciless power has dug thy dungeon deep;
And his swart armorers, by a thousand fires,
Have forged thy chain : yet, while he deems thee bound,
The links are shivered, and the prison-walls
Fall outward. Terribly thou springest forth,
As springs the flame above a burning pile,
And shoutest to the nations, who return
Thy shoutings, while the pale oppressor flies.
Thy birthright was not given by human hands :
Thou wert twin-born with man. In pleasant fields,
While yet our race was few, thou sat'st with him
To tend the quiet flock and watch the stars,
And teach the reed to utter simple airs.
Thou by his side, amid the tangled wood,
Didst war upon the panther and the wolf,
His only foes; and thou with him didst draw
The earliest furrow on the mountain-side
Soft with the Deluge. Tyranny himself
Thy enemy, although of reverend look,
Hoary with many years, and far obeyed,
Is later born than thou; and, as he meets
The grave defiance of thine elder eye,
The usurper trembles in his fastnesses.
Thou shalt wax stronger with the lapse of years ; But he shall fade into a feebler age,
Feebler, yet subtler. He shall weave his snares,
And spring them on thy careless steps, and clap
His withered hands, and from their ambush call
His hordes to fall upon thee. He shall send
Quaint maskers, wearing fair and gallant forms,
To catch thy gaze, and uttering graceful words
To charm thy ear; while his sly imps, by stealth,
Twine round thee threads of steel, - light thread on thread, –
That grow to fetters; or bind down thy arms
With chains concealed in chaplets. Oh! not yet
Mayst thou unbrace thy corselet, nor lay by
Thy sword ; nor yet, 0 Freedom! close thy lids
In slumber: for thine enemy never sleeps ;
And thou must watch and combat till the day
Of the new earth and heaven.
O GODDESS! sing the wrath of Peleus' son,
Achilles ; sing the deadly wrath that brought
Woes numberless upon the Greeks, and swept
To Hades many a valiant soul, and gave
Their limbs a prey to dogs, and birds of air:
For so had Jove appointed, from the time
When the two chiefs — Atrides, king of men,
And great Achilles — parted first as foes.
Which of the gods put strife between the chiefs,
That they should thus contend ? Latona's son,
And Jove's. Incensed against the king, he bade
A deadly pestilence appear among
The army; and the men were perishing.
For Atreus' son, with insult, had received
Chryses, the priest, who to the Grecian fleet
Came to redeem his daughter, offering
In his hand he bore
The fillets of Apollo, archer-god,
Upon the golden scepter; and he sued
To all the Greeks, but chiefly to the sons
Of Atreus, the two leaders of the host :
“Ye sons of Atreus, and ye other chiefs,
Well-greaved Achaians, may the gods who dwell
Upon Olympus give you to o’erthrow
The city of Priam, and in safety reach
Your homes! But give me my beloved child,
And take her ransom; honoring him who sends
His arrows far,
Apollo, son of Jove."
Then all the other Greeks, applauding, bade
Revere the priest, and take the liberal gifts
He offered. But the counsel did not please
Atrides Agamemnon: he dismissed
The priest with scorn, and added threatening words:
“Old man, let me not find thee loitering here
Beside the roomy ships, or coming back
Hereafter, lest the fillet thou dost bear,
And scepter of thy god, protect thee not.
This maiden I release not till old age
Shall overtake her in my Argive home,
Far from her native country, where her hand
Shall throw the shuttle and shall dress my couch.
Go! chafe me not, if thou wouldst safely go."
He spake: the aged man in fear obeyed
The mandate, and in silence walked apart
Along the many-sounding ocean-side;
And fervently he prayed the monarch-god,
Apollo, golden-haired Latona's son :-
“ Hear me, thou bearer of the silver bow,
Who guardest Chrysa and the holy isle
Of Cilla, and art lord in Tenedos !
O Smintheus ! if I ever helped to deck
Thy glorious temple, if I ever burned
Upon thy altar the fat thighs of goats
And bullocks, grant my prayer, and let thy shafts
Avenge upon the Greeks the tears I shed.”
So spake he, supplicating; and to him
Phæbus Apollo hearkened. Down he came,
Down from the summit of the Olympian mount,
Wrathful in heart. His shoulders bore the bow
And hollow quiver : there the arrows rang
Upon the shoulders of the angry god,
As on he moved. He came as comes the night;
And, seated from the ships aloof, sent forth
An arrow: terrible was heard the clang
Of that resplendent bow. At first he smote
The mules and the swift dogs; and then on man
He turned the deadly arrow.
Glared evermore the frequent funeral-piles.
Nine days already had his shafts been showered
Among the host; and now, upon the tenth,
Achilles called the people of the camp
To council. Juno, of the snow-white arms,
Had moved his mind to this; for she beheld
With sorrow that the men were perishing.
And when the assembly met, and now was full,
Stood swift Achilles in the midst, and said,
“To me it seems, Atrides, that 'twere well, Since now our aim is baffled, to return
Homeward, if death o'ertake us not ; for war
And pestilence at once destroy the Greeks.
But let us first consult some seer or priest
Or dream-interpreter, for even dreams
Are sent by Jove, - and ask him by what cause
Phoebus Apollo has been angered thus, -
If by neglected vows or hecatombs;
And whether savor of fat bulls and goats
May move the god to stay the pestilence.”
He spake, and took again his seat. And next
Rose Calchas, son of Thestor, and the chief
Of augurs, one to whom were known things past
And present and to come. He, through the art
Of divination which Apollo gave,
Had guided Ilium-ward the ships of Greece.
With words well ordered warily he spake :
“ Achilles, loved of Jove, thou biddest me Explain the wrath of Phæbus, monarch-god, Who sends afar his arrows. Willingly Will I make known the cause: but covenant thou, And swear to stand prepared, by word and hand, To bring me succor; for my mind misgives That he who rules the Argives, and to whom The Achaian race are subject, will be wroth. A sovereign is too strong for humbler men ; And, though he keep his choler down a while, It rankles, till he sate it, in his heart. And now consider: wilt thou hold me safe?”
Achilles, the swift-footed, answered thus :“ Fear nothing, but speak boldly out whate'er Thou knowest, and declare the will of Heaven; For by Apollo, dear to Jove, whom thou, Calchas, dost pray to when thou givest forth The sacred oracles to men of Greece, No man, while yet I live, and see the light Of day, shall lay a violent hand on thee Among our roomy ships ; no man of all The Grecian armies, though thou name the name Of Agamemnon, whose high boast it is To stand in power and rank above them all."
Encouraged thus, the blameless seer went on :-
“ 'Tis not neglected vows or hecatombs
That move him, but the insult shown his priest,
Whom Agamemnon spurned when he refused
To set his daughter free, and to receive
Therefore sends the archer-gol
These woes upon us, and will send them still,
Nor ever will withdraw his heavy hand
From our destruction, till the dark-eyed maid,
Freely, and without ransom, be restored
To her beloved father, and with her
A sacred hecatomb to Chrysa sent:
So may we haply pacify the god."
Thus having said, the augur took his seat.
And then the hero-son of Atreus rose,
Wide-ruling Agamemnon, — greatly chafed.
His gloomy heart was full of wrath ; his eyes
Sparkled like fire. He fixed a menacing look
Full on the augur Calchas, and began :
“ Prophet of evil, never hadst thou yet
A cheerful word for me. To mark the signs
Of coming mischief is thy great delight.
Good dost thou ne'er foretell, nor bring to pass.
And now thou pratest, in thine auguries
Before the Greeks, how that the archer-god
Afflicts us thus because I would not take
The costly ransom offered to redeem
The virgin-child of Chryses. 'Twas my choice
To keep her with me; for I prize her more
Than Clytemnestra, bride of my young years,
And deem her not less nobly graced than she,
In form and feature, mind, and pleasing arts.
Yet will I give her back if that be best ;
For gladly would I see my people saved
From this destruction. Let meet recompense,
Meantime, be ready, that I be not left
Alone of all the Greeks without my prize :
That were not seemly. All of you perceive
That now my share of spoil has passed from me.”
To him the great Achilles, swift of foot,
Replied, “ Renowned Atrides, greediest
Of men, where wilt thou that our noble Greeks
Find other spoil for thee, since none is set
Apart, a common store ? The trophies brought
From towns which we have sacked have all been shared
Among us; and we could not without shame
Bid every warrior bring his portion back.
Yield, then, the maiden to the god, and we,
The Achaians, freely will appoint for thee
Threefold and fourfold recompense when Jove
Gives up to sack this well-defended Troy."
Then the king Agamemnon answered thus : “ Nay, use no craft, all valiant as thou art, Godlike Achilles : thou hast not the power To circumvent nor to persuade me thus. Think'st thou, that, while thou keepest safe thy prize, I shall sit idly down, deprived of mine ? Thou bid’st me give the maiden back. "Tis well