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Sweet Thessaly ! thy mystery
Endears thee doubly to my soul; I think I see thy wood nymphs flee,
And hear thy fauns exhale their dole; And from Olympus comes a breeze
That bears the plaint of vanished Pan. Where are thine ancient deities?
Why fled they from the gaze of 'man?
Where are those younglings of the world,
Fair gods of fine primeval dawn? What grim unerring fate has hurled
Them into chaos? Are they gone?
Or do they linger ’mid thy hills,
In secret pining for recall,
To play upon men's wanton wills
As long they did before their fall?
Sweet Thessaly ! thy giants met
Among thy rocks to scale the sky, And Ossa upon Pelion set,
And fought until defeated by
Supernal majesty. To-day
Where are thy giants ? Can they rest Within their stony graves alway,
While thou art by the Turk oppressed?
If newer faiths and younger saints
Have brought thee slavery and pain, Call on thine early gods : thy plaints
To them perchance will not be vain Sweet Thessaly ! thou land of dreams !
Dost never in thy dreaming see A day that full of beauty seems
Day when thy gods return to thee?
So sang I, like a pagan as I am.
I think I love these newer saints ; but none
Of all their goodly shining company,
Nor rapt, ecstatic Stephen, holy-faced,
Nor Basil, nor that sturdy one who slew
The dragon-from my heart can e'er pluck out
The tender love I bear the gods of eld.
When, as a shepherd boy, I trod the sides
Of high Olympus, often would I seek-
With bated breath and widely opened eyes--
Within a mossy glen, or silent dell,
The refuge of departed deity.
Full often have I heard from brigands' lips,
When, with the grasses rustling round our heads,
In some lone thicket we lay hid for days,
Drinking the dew and munching ground-rats' stores
Of nuts and berries, stories of that time
When gods and goddesses on earth abode.
I mourned those airy children of the dawn,
And wished them back again ;—and do so now !
So sang I, like a pagan as I am.
But, rising through the mellow distance, came
The solemn singing of Saint Stephen's monks,
And I bethought me of my mission. .
I cursed the Turk, and spat upon the land
Soiled by his shuffling presence; nor again
Dared I to gaze behind me, but I sped -
As swift of foot as joyous messenger
Who carries news of triumph to a king-
Across the rocky lands, along the hills,
Upward beside the foaming cataracts,
Past lonely khans upon the mountain side,
Through darkened woods of oak and sycamore,
And through the pass of Zygos, where the crags
From all their vast recesses echo forth
The cries and murmurs of a hundred brooks
Which nourish old Penaëus, as his wave
Flows down to greet the olive and the vine.
I stole in silence through the noble vale
Where once Apollo with the Muses roamed :
Skirted the bases of Albanian hills,
And past the camps of Turkish men-at-arms
Glided with noiseless tread by night.
Faint with the heat and danger of the way,
And after many and laborious days,
I came to great Janina, girdled round
With savage mountains and with ancient walls,
A city throned, like a barbaric queen,
In grandeur roughly hewn, upon the hill
Where once was heard Dodona's oracle.
I lingered not to hear the autumn breeze
Sigh through the branches of the sacred oaks ;
But in the rushes by the lake I lay
Until the dark befriended me, and thus
Free from the wiles of brigand or of Turk,
Passed to the coast, and in a fisher's bark
For Corfu sailed.
And so in time I came
To fair Ragusa, dreaming by the sea
Of glories long departed : and beyond
I saw the hills whereon my mission lay.