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[Tais fierce philippic on Lord Elgin, whose collection of Athenian marbles was ultimately purchased for the nation, in 1816, at the cost of thirty-five thousand pounds, was written at Athens, in March, 1811, and prepared for publication along with the "Hints from Horace;" but, like that satire, suppressed by Lord Byron, from motives which the reader will easily understand. It was first given to the world in 1828. Few can wonder that Lord Byron's feelings should have been powerfully excited by the spectacle of the despoiled Parthenon; but it is only due to Lord Elgin to keep in mind, that, had those precious marbles remained, they must, in all likelihood, have perished for ever amidst the miserable scenes of violence which Athens has since witnessed; and that their presence in England has already, by universal admission, been of the most essential advantage to the fine arts of our own country. The political allusions in this poem are not such as require much explanation. It contains many lines, which, it is hoped, the author, on mature reflection, disapproved of- but is too vigorous a specimen of his iambics to be omitted in any collective edition of his works.]



Athens, Capuchin Convent, March 17. 1811.
SLOW sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,1
Along Morea's hills the setting sun;

Not, as in northern climes, obscurely bright,
But one unclouded blaze of living light;
O'er the hush'd deep the yellow beam he throws,
Gilds the green wave that trembles as it glows;
On old Ægina's rock and Hydra's isle

The god of gladness sheds his parting smile;
O'er his own regions lingering loves to shine,
Though there his altars are no more divine.
Descending fast, the mountain-shadows kiss
Thy glorious gulf, unconquer'd Salamis !
Their azure arches through the long expanse,
More deeply purpled, meet his mellowing glance,
And tenderest tints, along their summits driven,
Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven;

[The splendid lines with which this satire opens, down to "As thus, within the walls of Pallas' fane," first appeared at the commencement of the third canto of the Corsair, the author having, at that time, abandoned all notion of publishing the piece of which they originally made part.]

Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep,
Behind his Delphian rock he sinks to sleep.

On such an eve his palest beam he cast
When, Athens! here thy wisest look'd his last.
How watch'd thy better sons his farewell ray,
That closed their murder'd sage's latest day!
Not yet not yet. - Sol pauses on the hill,
The precious hour of parting lingers still;
But sad his light to agonising eyes,

And dark the mountain's once delightful dyes;
Gloom o'er the lovely land he seem'd to pour,
The land where Phoebus never frown'd before;
But ere he sunk below Citheron's head,
The cup of woe was quaff'd the spirit fled;
The soul of him that scorn'd to fear or fly,
Who lived and died as none can live or die.


But, lo! from high Hymettus to the plain
The queen of night asserts her silent reign;
No murky vapour, herald of the storm,
Hides her fair face, or girds her glowing form.
With cornice glimmering as the moonbeams play,
There the white column greets her grateful ray,
And bright around, with quivering beams beset,
Her emblem sparkles o'er the minaret :
The groves of olive scatter'd dark and wide,
Where meek Cephisus sheds his scanty tide,

1 Socrates drank the hemlock a short time before sunset (the hour of execution), notwithstanding the entreaties of his disciples to wait till the sun went down.

2 The twilight in Greece is much shorter than in our own country; the days in winter are longer, but in summer of less duration.

The cypress saddening by the sacred mosque,
The gleaming torrent of the gay kiosk,1
And sad and sombre 'mid the holy calm,
Near Theseus' fane, yon solitary palm;
All, tinged with varied hues, arrest the eye;
And dull were his that pass'd them heedless by.2

Again the Egean, heard no more afar,
Lulls his chafed breast from elemental war:
Again his waves in milder tints unfold
Their long expanse of sapphire and of gold,
Mix'd with the shades of many a distant isle
That frown, where gentler ocean deigns to smile.

As thus, within the wall of Pallas' fane, I mark'd the beauties of the land and main,

The kiosk is a Turkish summer-house; the palm is without the present walls of Athens, not far from the temple of Theseus, between which and the tree the wall intervenes. Cephisus' stream is indeed scanty, and Ilissus has no stream at all.

2 [During our residence of ten weeks at Athens, there was not, I believe, a day of which we did not devote a part to the contemplation of the noble monuments of Grecian genius, that have outlived the ravages of time, and the outrage of barbarous and antiquarian despoilers. The Temple of Theseus, which was within five minutes' walk of our lodgings, is the most perfect ancient edifice in the world. In this fabric, the most enduring stability, and a simplicity of design peculiarly striking, are united with the highest elegance and accuracy of workmanship; the characteristic of the Doric style, whose chaste beauty is not, in the opinion of the first artists, to be equalled by the graces of any of the other orders. A gentleman of Athens, of great taste and skill, assured us that, after a continued contemplation of this temple, and the remains of the Parthenon, he could never again look with his accustomed satisfaction upon the Ionic and Corinthian ruins of Athens, much less upon the specimens of the more modern species of architecture to be seen in Italy. - HOBHOUSE.]

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