Then they were kind—the forests here,
Rivers, and stiller waters, paid
A tribute to the net and spear
Of the red ruler of the shade.
Fruits on the woodland branches lay,
Roots in the shaded soil below,
The stars looked forth to teach his way,
The still earth warned him of the foe.
A noble race! but they are gone,
With their old forests wide and deep,
And we have built our homes upon
Fields where their generations sleep.
Their fountains slake our thirst at noon,
Upon their fields our harvest waves,
Our lovers woo beneath their moon—
Then let us spare, at least, their graves!
A power is on the earth and in the air,
From which the vital spirit shrinks afraid,
And shelters him, in nooks of deepest shade,
From the hot steam and from the fiery glare.
Look forth upon the earth—her thousand plants
Are smitten; even the dark sun-loving maize
Faints in the field beneath the torrid blaze;
The herd beside the shaded fountain pants;
For life is driven from all the landscape brown;
The bird has sought his tree, the snake his den,
The trout floats dead in the hot stream, and men
Drop by the sun-stroke in the populous town:
As if the Day of Fire had dawned, and sent
Its deadly breath into the firmament.
Our free flag is dancing
In the free mountain air,
And burnished arms are glancing,
And warriors gathering there;
And fearless is the little train
Whose gallant bosoms shield it;
The blood that warms their hearts shall stain
That banner, ere they yield it.
—Each dark eye is fixed on earth,
And brief each solemn greeting;
There is no look nor sound of mirth,
Where those stern men are meeting.
They go to the slaughter,
To strike the sudden blow,
And pour on earth, like water,
The best blood of the foe;
To rush on them from rock and height,
And clear the narrow valley,
Or fire their camp at dead of night,
And fly before they rally.
—Chains are round our country pressed,
And cowards have betrayed her,
And we must make her bleeding breast
The grave of the invader.
Not till from her fetters
We raise up Greece again,
And write, in bloody letters,
That tyranny is slain,—
Oh, not till then the smile shall steal
Across those darkened faces,
Nor one of all those warriors feel
His children’s dear embraces,
—Reap we not the ripened wheat,
Till yonder hosts are flying,
And all their bravest, at our feet,
Like autumn sheaves are lying.