Modern Greece

As, in the legend which our childhood loved,
The destined prince was guided to the bed,
Where, many a silent year, the charmèd Maid
Lay still, as though she were not; nor could wake,
Till the first touch of his appointed hand
With the deep fountains of her subtle being
Made sympathy, and in her virgin bosom
The pulse of breath, that so long had beat on
Its regular measure, trembled and grew fast,
And the long fringes parted on her eyes,--
And she to her old world of light and sense
Was born again; so the Invisible Power,
Whose awful presence is upon our earth
Above all dominations, came at last
To Greece, and laid the magic of his hand
Upon her sleep, and she obedient rose.

She rose, but not as that enchanted ladie,
To whose unsullied beauty sleep had been
But as a veil, to guard off impure Time
From breathing on it, and had left no trace
Of its existence, but the long gold hair,
That, like a vestment, folded round her form;
Nor, even as they, who on this vulgar orb
Rise from their night's brief slumbers, hale and fresh,
With all the toil of yesterday behind them;--
No, Nations sleep not thus,--their sleep and rest
Has more of death about it,--in its hours
Silent corruption works, and slow decay;
And when some special grace bids them awake,
Half--blinded, with worn hearts, and sense confused,
They rush in fury from their couch of shame,
Proclaim themselves new--born, and free, and young,
Nothing of youth about them, but its passions,
Its vigorous lusts, and recklessness of ends.--

Oh! would'st Thou, from thy hot delirious dream,
Look out upon the calm of long--past time,
Thine own bright natural youth, willing to learn;
Would only Greece remember what she was,
And then what made her so;--would she remember
That distant History records a time,
Though in the splendour of the after--light
Nearly obliterate, when she was as bare
Of every element of social being,
Of every use of moral energies,
Of all that can transform humanity
From the wild warrior--savage, instinct--led,
Into the thinking, acting citizen,
As now, or more so; but her infant soul,
Soon from that rude and miserable state,
Into a youth of healthy--springing thoughts,
Gay simple fancies, aspirations high,
Expanded under tutelary care
Of two wise nurses, delegates of God,
The Love of Beauty and Self--sacrifice:
And when, in the full time, came slowly on
Life's manly mood, and consciousness mature,
She, the fair faith and natural impulses
That waited on her morning, taking up
Into the accomplished glory of her noon,
Never forgot, through all the growth of wealth,
And martial action, and scholastic pride,
Her first affections,--and possessed at once,
A Mind informed by sage experience,
And a Heart fresh as it had come from heaven.

What, though the curse of this unresting world,
The influence that will let no greatness be,
Merged in the blackness of barbaric night,
This model of the perfect equipoise,
And just appliance of all human powers;
Yet still for You, born of a second dawn,
The children of another germ of life,
It has a voice of loud authority;
By the same laws it bids you train your minds,
To the same tutelage submit your hearts,
And to the sum of wisdom there laid up,
Adding the priceless gems of Christian truth,
Be owners of a treasury of such wealth,
As all the spirit of nations has not known.

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