SO ! Ye drag me, men of Athens,
Hither to your council-hall,
Armed with judges and informers,
That your doom on me may fall, —
Doom that Athens oft hath levelled
On her noblest sons of yore, —
Doom that made her foes triumphant,
And each heart that loved her sore.
Oft, as I have seen her heroes
Brought to this ignoble end,
Have I pondered, — when should Fortune
To my lips the cup commend?
Read the foul indictment, falsehood
After falsehood rolling on ;
Far away my thoughts shall wander,
Thinking of the moments gone,
When with tears and prayers ye dragged me
Hither to your council-hall,
Young and old, and wives and children,
Echoing one despairing call, —
“ Speak some word of comfort, Archon,
Ere the Persian dig our grave !
Speak, Themistocles, and save us, —
Thou alone hast power to save ! ”
Is it over ? Let me hear it, —
Let me hear once more the end, —
“For Themistocles betrays us,
And is sworn the Persian’s friend — ”
No, not that ! Take back the falsehood !
Curse the hand that wrote the lie ;
Charge what deadly crime it lists you,
’T is no dreadful thing to die.
But shall all my free devotion,
All my care for Athens’ weal,
Turn to treason and corruption,
Stamped with such a lying seal ?
Was’t for Persia then I led you
Up to proud Athena’s height, —
Bade you view this barren country,
And the sea to left and right, —
Bade you leave your plain and mountain, —
Save to dig their shining ore, —
Bade you grasp the ocean’s sceptre,
Spoil the wealth of every shore,
Spread your white sails to the breezes,
Unrestrained like them and free,
Lords of no contracted city,
But the monarchs of the sea !
Persia's friend ! Have ye forgotten
How the lord of Persia came,
Bridging seas, and cleaving mountains,
With the terrors of his name, —
How he burst through Tempe's portal,
Trod the dauntless Spartan down,
Dragged the vile Boeotian captive,
Dared e’en Delphi's sacred crown ?
And the craven wail of terror
Rang through Athens’ every street;
Then ye came and begged for counsel,
Kneeling, clinging to my feet.
Then I bade you leave your city,
Leave your temples and your halls,
Trusting, as the god gave answer,
To your country’s wooden walls.
And the Persian, entering proudly,
Found a city of the dead ;
Athens’ corpse his only victim,
Her immortal soul had fled !
Was ’t for Persia in the council
With your false allies I toiled,
Bade the Spartan, “ Strike, but hear me,"5
Ere my country should be spoiled ?
Or that all that night their galleys
In the narrow strait I kept ?
For we felt the Persian closing,
And no son of Athens slept.
But when broke the golden dawning
O’er Pentelicus afar,
Rose the glad Hellenic pæan,
Bursting with the morning star.
For we saw the Persian squadrons
Ship on ship in thousands pour,
And we knew the pass was narrow
’Twixt the island and the shore.
Calmly, as no foe were near us,
All our morning tasks we wrought,
Lying there in silent order,
As though fight we never fought.
But we grasped our oars all eager
Till the tough pine burned each hand,
Watching till the steersman's signal
For the onset gave command.
Then we smote the sea together,
And our galleys onward flew,
While from all the Hellenic navy,
As we dashed along the blue,
Pealed one loud, triumphant war-cry, — “ Now, ye sons of Hellas, come, Conquer freedom for your country, Freedom each one for his home,
Freedom for your wives and children,
For the altars where ye bow,
For your fathers’ honored ashes,
For them all ye ’re fighting now ! ” 1
On the mountain height the tyrant
Bade them set his golden throne,
And in pitch of pride surveyed them, —
All the fleet he called his own, —
Heard the war-cry far resounding,
Heard the oars’ responsive dash,
And the shock of squadrons smiting
Beak to beak with sudden clash, —
Saw them locked in wild confusion,
Prow on prow and keel on keel, —
Heard the thundering crash of timbers,
And the ring of clanging steel, —
Saw his ponderous ships entangled
In the close and narrow strait,
And our light-winged galleys darting
Boldly in the jaws of fate, —
Saw the mad disorder seize them,
As we grappled fast each prow,
Leaped like tigers on the bulwarks,
Hurled them to the depths below, —
Saw his bravest on the island
Slaughtered down in deadly fight,
Whom he fondly placed to crush us,
If perchance we turned to flight,—
Saw one last despairing struggle, —
Then the shout that all was lost,
And his matchless navy turning,
Fleeing from the hated coast, —
Saw them stranded on the island,
Rent and shattered on the main, —
Heard the shrieks of myriads wounded,
Saw the heaps of thousands slain,
While the sea was red with carnage,
And the air with shouts was wild,
“ Woe to Persia’s slaves and tyrant!
Hail to Athens, ocean’s child ! ”
No, ye have not all forgotten,
All your hearts have not grown cold,
When of Athens’ countless triumphs,
This, the noblest tale, is told.
Oft perchance my acts have wronged you,
But ye dare not charge me this,
That the Persian is my master,
When ye think of Salamis.
More I might ; but it sufficeth, —
Here I wait the word of doom;
Strike ! But think that I, the culprit,
Raised your city from the tomb.
Guilty ! Well ! The fate of others
Now at length descends on me ;
Envy strikes the loftiest ever,
As the lightning on the tree.
Banished ! Athens aye hath willed it
For her truest souls of yore ;
Now I know thee, Aristides,
As I never knew before.
O forgive me, gallant rival,
If I e’er have wrought thee ill;
Think but of the glorious morning
When we stood on yonder hill,
When Miltiades arrayed us
In the central ranks to stand,
When we charged adown the mountain
On the motley Persian band,
When the shouting wings swept forward,
And we stood, like sea-cliffs fast,
Smiling to behold the nations
Break in foam upon us cast;
When we chased them to the galleys,
Slaughtered thousands by the wave,
Sent them back in rout to Susa,
Heaped the mound above our brave,
And forever through the ages
Sounds our glory, rolling on,
For Miltiades and Athens,
For ourselves and Marathon.
Men of Athens ! By your sentence
I am banished from your state ;
Humbly to that doom I bow me,
And I leave you to your fate.
Not to me thine awful ending,
Athens, shall the years unfold ;
Long shall night have closed these eyelids
Ere that ruin men behold.
Still, when I am long forgotten,
Shall thy haughty sway extend,
Isles and cities, lords and kingdoms,
Forced to court, to sue, to bend, As, from year to year increasing,
Still thy marts new wealth enclose,
And thy far-resplendent treasures
Dazzle e'en thy fiercest foes.
Wider ports and swifter navies,
Broader fields and richer mines,
Deadlier fights and braver armies,
Statelier halls and fairer shrines,
Loftier accents poured in council,
Nobler thoughts in sweeter song,
Loud proclaim the crown of Hellas
Doth of right to thee belong;
Till thy heart be drunk with glory,
And thy brain be crazed with power,
And the gods o’erhear thy boasting
In some mad, triumphant hour.

VOL. XX. - NO. 120. 26

Then, when one by one thy subjects
Turn and beard thee in despair,
Calling Sparta to the rescue,
In thy death and spoil to share,—
When thy vines and groves lie desert,
And within thy crowded wall
Pest and famine slay thy chosen,
Slay the foremost chief of all, —
When thy armies throng the dungeons,
And thy shipwrecks heap the strand,—
When thine ancient strain of heroes
Gives no more the proud command,
But thy wisest heads turn faithless,
And thy truest hearts grow dull,
Making all thy counsel folly,
All thy desperate valor null, —
When each fond and mad endeavor,
Clutching at thy fallen crown,
Deeper in the roaring whirlpool
Of perdition sucks thee down,—
When at last thy foes surround thee,
Dig the trench, and hem thee in, —
When the dreadful word is spoken, *
Which to whisper were a sin,—
When at length, in vile subjection,
Unto Sparta thou shalt sue,
Swearing thou wilt humbly serve her,
Will she but thy life renew, —
In that hour of keenest torture,
When thy star is sunk in night,
Think ! — but not of me, whose valor
Thou so foully didst requite ; —
Think not of thine outraged heroes,
But of her who banished these,
Think of Athens, false and fickle,
Think not of Themistocles.
But if e’er, in after ages,
Once again thy star should rise, —
If some noble son should save thee,
Like a god that left the skies,
If thy shackles should be broken,
And thou leap to new renown,
Then remember me, my darling,
City of the violet crown !
Then shall endless shouts of triumph
Sound the glories of thy name,
And the songs of generations
All thy matchless gifts proclaim;
Then be every wrong forgotten,
Then be every debt repaid,
And the wreath of every hero
On Athena’s altar laid.
  1. The foregoing description is nearly a translation from the Persœ of Æschylus.