The City of the Violet Crown

HE is dead and gone, with his wonderful skill,
The poet who once by a sound
Made bowlder and birch-tree dance to his will,
And a city arise from the ground.
One night, where the haunted Cephissus pours
Its shrunken wave to the sea,
Some flute-notes, wafted along the shores,
Were the same as Amphion’s to me.
For they built thee again in my quiet dreams,
O City of the Violet Crown ;
As silent as rises the mist from the streams,
Thy walls rose over the town.
On the gleaming height where the Parthenon lay,
Like a beautiful changeless cloud,
Stood the maiden goddess arrayed for the fray,
Majestic, and silent, and proud.
Her brazen shield in the sunlight shone
Far out on the trembling blue,
As a welcoming star, as a sign well known,
To the home-returning crew.
The seals were broken on urn and grave,
And many a vanished face
Was seen once more in the living wave
Of the street or the market-place.
But all the while it was envious Death
Still masking; the vision of peace
Became as a fabric upheld by a breath, —
I feared that my fluter would cease.
Ill-omened fear ! That moment I found
The faces beginning to pass;
All faded, as phantoms fade underground
When the dawn breathes over the grass.
The dawn had risen, the broken spell
I could not recover then ;
Time’s withering glance on thy temples fell,
And thou wert a ruin again.
Nay, not all ruin! In air and sky,
In thy old historic hill, A sense of something that cannot die
There lingered, and lingers still, —
A gleam of the light that forever will be
On all the nations afar,
Like the trail that falls over the summer sea
At the set of the Titan star.
Oh, well to remember the deeds and days
Of thy past, handed silently down,
While the sun on thy forehead of mountains lays,
Fair city, the Violet Crown !
Samuel V. Cole.