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And, following guides whose craft holds no consent
With aught that breathes the ethereal element,
Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood,
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.

Dion was anxious to give Syracuse a constitution, but he found Heracleides an incessant opponent in spite of the long forbearance he had shown him. Feeling that the one obstacle to a settlement must at all costs be removed, he yielded to advisers whom he had long withstood, and allowed them to put Heracleides to death. He gave him, however, a public funeral, and persuaded the people that it was impossible for the State to have peace on any other conditions.

But whence that sudden check?

ἐτύγχανε μὲν γὰρ ὀψὲ τῆς ἡμέρας καθεζόμενος ἐν παστάδι τῆς οἰκίας μόνος ὢν πρὸς ἑαυτῷ τὴν διάνοιαν· ἐξαίφνης δὲ ψόφου γενομένου πρὸς θατέρῳ πέρατι τῆς στοᾶς, ἀποβλέψας ἔτι φωτὸς ὄντος εἶδε γυναῖκα μεγάλην στολῇ μὲν καὶ προσώπῳ μηδὲν Ἐριννύος τραγικῆς παραλλάττουσαν, σαίρουσαν δὲ καλλύντρῳ τινὶ τὴν oikiav. He happened to be sitting late in the evening in a corridor of the house in solitary meditation: suddenly a sound was heard in the further end of the portico, and looking up, he saw in the lingering light the form of a majestic woman, in dress and face like the Fury as she appears in tragedy-sweeping the house with a brush.

In Plutarch, the apparition is simply ominous of coming evil, his son, a few days afterwards, throwing himself in a fit of petulance from the roof of the palace, and his own death shortly following the moral significance assigned to it in the poem is Wordsworth's own interpretation.


And, in their anguish, bear what other minds have borne!

In Plutarch, Dion calls his attendants, dreading to be left alone for fear the spectre should return (παντάπασιν ἐκστατικῶς ἔχων καὶ δεδοικώς μὴ πάλιν εἰς ὄψιν αὐτῷ μονωθέν τὸ τέρας ȧpíkηrαι). Wordsworth seems to have taken a hint from this passage, and to have added a tragic intensity by representing the horror as one which he could share with no one, a supernatural doom in which he must be absolutely solitary.

marbles, etc. See also the Autobiography of B. R. Haydon, where, in a letter to the artist, Wordsworth says, "I am not surprised to hear that Canova expressed himself highly pleased with the Elgin marbles: a man must be senseless as a clod, or as perverse as a fiend, not to be enraptured with them" (vol. i. p. 325).-ED.

Ill-fated Chief! there are whose hopes are built
Upon the ruins of thy glorious name.

Callippus, an early friend of Dion's in Athens, and bound to him by a sacred association as he had initiated him into the mysteries, was now in Syracuse, and for selfish ends was plotting his friend's ruin, ἐλπίσας Σικελίαν ἆθλον ἕξειν τῆς ČEVOKTOVías, hoping to get Sicily as the prize of his treachery.'

O matchless perfidy! portentous lust
Of monstrous crime!

Not only was this Callippus his friend, not only had he initiated him into the mysteries at Athens, a bond of peculiar sanctity, but there was even a worse perfidy: to allay the suspicions of Dion's household he had taken the awful oath.' Descending into the sacred enclosure of Demeter, he had put on the purple robe of the goddess, and taking a burning torch in his hand, had disowned upon oath any thought of treachery. Yet in spite of this awful oath, he chose the very festival of the goddess as the moment for perpetrating the crime.

the marble city wept.

Syracuse was one of the most magnificent cities of the ancient world, and contained a large number of splendid buildings built from the quarries adjacent to the city. Perhaps the most famous was the great theatre, the seats of which were formed with slabs of white marble.

too just

To his own native greatness to desire

That wretched boon, days lengthened by mistrust.

ὁ μὲν Δίων, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἐπὶ τοῖς κατὰ τὸν Ἡρακλείδην ἀχθόμενος καὶ τὸν φόνον ἐκεῖνον ὥς τινα τοῦ βίου καὶ τῶν πράξεων αὐτῷ κηλίδα περικειμένην, δυσχεραίνων ἀεὶ καὶ βαρυνόμενος εἶπεν ὅτι πολλάκις ἤδη θνήσκειν ἕτοιμός ἐστι καὶ παρέχειν τῷ βουλομένῳ σφάττειν αὑτόν, εἰ ζῆν δεήσει μὴ μόνον τοὺς ἐχθρούς, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς φίλους φυλαττόμενον. His relations had been cautioning him against Callippus; but 'Dion, grieved at heart, it would seem, at the fate of Heracleides, and ever chafing at and brooding over the murder as a stain upon his life and conduct, was willing, he said, to die a thousand deaths and yield his neck to any who would strike the blow, if life was only to be had by guarding against friends as well as foes.'"-ED.





Composed 1816.-Published 1820


[The first and last fourteen lines of this poem each make a sonnet, and were composed as such; but I thought that by intermediate lines they might be connected so as to make a whole. One or two expressions are taken from Milton's History of England.-I. F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."-ED.

THE Danish Conqueror, on his royal chair,
Mustering a face of haughty 2 sovereignty,
To aid a covert purpose, cried—“ O ye
Approaching Waters of the deep, that share
With this green isle my fortunes, come not where
Your Master's throne is set."-Deaf was the Sea;
Her waves rolled on, respecting his decree
Less than they heed a breath of wanton air.3
-Then Canute, rising from the invaded throne,
Said to his servile Courtiers,—“ Poor the reach,4
The undisguised extent, of mortal sway!
He only is a King, and he alone

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Deserves the name (this truth the billows preach) Whose everlasting laws, sea, earth, and heaven, obey."

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Your Master's throne is set !"-Absurd decree !

A mandate uttered to the foaming sea,
Is to its motions less than wanton air.

4 1820.

Said to his Courtiers, Scanty is the reach,

MS. and 1820.


This just reproof the prosperous Dane Drew from the influx of the main,


For some whose rugged northern mouths would strain At oriental flattery;


And Canute (fact more worthy to be known) 1
From that time forth did for his brows disown

The ostentatious symbol of a crown ;
Esteeming earthly royalty

Contemptible as vain.2

Now hear what one of elder days, Rich theme of England's fondest praise,



Her darling Alfred, might have spoken; 3
To cheer the remnant of his host

When he was driven from coast to coast,

Distressed and harassed, but with mind unbroken : 4

"My faithful followers, lo! the tide is spent That rose, and steadily advanced to fill The shores and channels, working Nature's will Among the mazy streams that backward went, And in the sluggish pools where ships are pent: And now, his 5 task performed, the flood stands still,

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And Canute, which is worthiest to be known,

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MS. and 1820.




MS. and 1820.

Such words as these methinks he might have spoken



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At the green base of many an inland hill,*
In placid beauty and sublime content! 1
Such the repose that sage and hero find;
Such measured rest the sedulous and good

Of humbler name; whose souls do, like the flood 40
Of Ocean, press right on; or gently wind,
Neither to be diverted nor withstood,

Until they reach the bounds by Heaven assigned."

The passage from Milton's History of England (book vi.), referred to in the Fenwick note, relates an incident, "which" (as Milton justly says), "unless to Court-Parasites, needed no such laborious demonstration." There is only one expression borrowed by Wordsworth: "The Sea, as before, came rolling on, whereat the King, quickly rising, wished all about him to behold and consider the weak and frivolous form of a King, and that none indeed deserved the name of a King, but he whose Eternal Laws both Heaven, Earth, and Sea obey."-Ed.


Composed 1816.-Published 1820

[The complaint in my eyes, which gave occasion to this address to my daughter, first showed itself as a consequence of inflammation, caught at the top of Kirkstone, when I was overheated by having carried up the ascent my eldest son, a lusty infant. Frequently has the disease recurred since, leaving my eyes in a state which has often prevented my reading for months,

1 1820.


entire content..

Compare Tennyson, In Memoriam, stanza xix.—

There twice a day the Severn fills;
The salt sea-water passes by,

And hushes half the babbling Wye,

And makes a silence in the hills.



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