[He walks forward upon the downs.]
PHILEMON (to BAUCIS)
Haste to spread the table, under
The green leafage of our trees.
Let him run, struck dumb with wonder,
Scarce he’ll credit what he sees.
[He follows the wanderer. Standing beside him.]
Where the billows did maltreat you,
Wave on wave in fury rolled,
There a garden now doth greet you,
Fair as Paradise of old.
Grown more aged, as when stronger,
I could render aid no more;
And, as waned my strength, no longer
Rolled the sea upon the shore;
Prudent lords, bold serfs directing,
It with trench and dyke restrained;
Ocean’s rights no more respecting,
Lords they were, where he had reigned.
See, green meadows far extending;—
Garden, village, woodland, plain.
But return we, homeward wending,
For the sun begins to wane.
In the distance sails are gliding,
Nightly they to port repair;
Bird-like, in their nests confiding,
For a haven waits them there.
Far away mine eye discerneth
First the blue fringe of the main;
Right and left, where’er it turneth,
Spreads the thickly-peopled plain.
The three at table
Art thou dumb? No morsel raising
To thy famished lips?
He of wonders so amazing
Fain would hear; inform him thou.
There was wrought a wonder truly,
Yet no rest it leaves to me;
Naught in the affair was duly
Done, as honest things should be!
Who as sinful can pronounce it?
’Twas the emperor gave the shore;—
Did the trumpet not announce it
As the herald passed our door?
Footing firm they first have planted
Near these downs. Tents, huts, appeared;
O’er the green, the eye, enchanted,
Saw ere long a palace reared.
Shovel, axe, no labor sparing,
Vainly plied the men by day;
Where the fires at night shone flaring,
Stood a dam, in morning’s ray.
Still from human victims bleeding,
Wailing sounds were nightly borne;
Seaward sped the flames, receding;
A canal appeared at morn!
Godless is he, naught respecting;
Covets he our grove, our cot;
Though our neighbor, us subjecting,
Him to serve will be our lot.
Yet he bids, our claims adjusting,
Homestead fair in his new land.
Earth, from water saved, mistrusting,
On thine own height take thy stand.