Athens

O land of Solon, Plato, and of men
Whose glorious like earth ne’er shall see again!
Thou art not dead,—thy every plain and hill
Sends forth a voice, and teems with spirits still!
What though no more they teach, with valor burn?
Thy sage and warrior breathe from out the urn,
And each lone wreck that moss and ivies bind
Points to bright days, and speaks of godlike mind.
But rock-crowned Athens calls our thoughts away,
There sits she, lovely in her calm decay,
The eye of Greece, Fame’s daughter sad and lone,
The queen of Wisdom on her mouldering throne.
How thrill we, entering slow the western gate,
To climb yon mount where mightiest sages sate!
The rostrum, carved from stone, is seen this hour,
Where Eloquence distilled her silver shower.
There on Mars Hill stood Paul with flashing eye,
Like some bright form just lighted from the sky,
Marvelled so blind learned Athens still should be,
Admired but mourned her Pagan brilliancy.

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Athens! thou birthplace of the great, the free!
Though bowed thy power, and dimmed thy name may be,
Though old Renown’s once dazzling sun hath set,
Fair beams the star of Memory o’er thee yet.
City! where sang the bard, and taught the sage,
Thy shrines may fall, thou ne’er wilt know old age;
Fresh shall thy image glow in every heart,
And but with Time’s last hour thy fame depart.

— From Athens, by Nicholas Michell.

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