Ode to Miletus


M aiden there was whom Jove
Illuded into love,
Happy and pure was she;
Glorious from her the shore became,
And Helle lifted up her name
To shine eternal o'er the river-sea.


And many tears are shed
Upon thy bridal-bed,
Star of the swimmer in the lonely night!
Who with unbraided hair
Wipedst a breast so fair,
Bounding with toil, more bounding with delight.


But they whose prow hath past thy straits
And, ranged before Byzantion's gates,
Bring to the Gods of sea the victim due,
Even from the altar raise their eyes,
And drop the chalice with surprise,
And at such grandeur have forgotten you.


At last there swells the hymn of praise . .
And who inspires those sacred lays?
" The founder of the walls ye see."
What human power could elevate
Those walls, that citadel, that gate?
" Miletus, O my sons! was he."


Hail then, Miletus! hail beloved town
Parent of me and mine!
But let not power alone be thy renown,
Nor chiefs of ancient line,


Nor visits of the Gods, unless
They leave their thoughts below,
And teach us that we most should bless
Those to whom most we owe.


Restless is Wealth; the nerves of Power
Sink, as a lute's in rain:
The Gods lend only for an hour
And then call back again


All else than Wisdom; she alone,
In Truth's or Virtue's form,
Descending from the starry throne
Thro' radiance and thro' storm,


Remains as long as godlike men
Afford her audience meet,
Nor Time nor War tread down agen
The traces of her feet.


Always hast thou, Miletus, been the friend,
Protector, guardian, father, of the wise;
Therefore shall thy dominion never end
Til Fame, despoil'd of voice and pinion, dies.


With favoring shouts and flowers thrown fast behind,
Arctinus ran his race
No wanderer he, alone and blind . .
And Melesander was untorn by Thrace.


There have been, but not here,
Rich men who swept aside the royal feast
On child's or bondman's breast,
Bidding the wise and aged disappear.


Revere the aged and the wise,
Aspasia . . but thy sandal is not worn
To trample on these things of scorn . .
By his own sting the fire-bound scorpion dies.
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