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Walter Savage Landor

(30 January 1775 – 17 September 1864 / Warwick)

Aletheia To Phraortes


AFTER THE SACKAGE OF MILETOS

Phraortes! where art thou?
The flames were panting after us, their darts Had pierced to many hearts
Before the Gods, who heard nor prayer nor vow;

Temples had sunk to earth, and other smoke
O'er riven altars broke
Than curled from myrrh and nard,
When like a God among
Arm'd hosts and unarm'd throng
Thee I discern'd, implored, and caught one brief regard.

Thou passest: from thy side
Sudden two bowmen ride
And hurry me away.
Thou and. all hope were gone
They loost me . . and alone
In a closed tent 'mid gory arms I lay.

How did my tears then burn
When, dreading thy return,
Behold thee reappear!
Nor helm nor sword nor spear .

In violet gold-hemm'd vest
Thou camest forth; too soon!
Fallen at thy feet, claspt to thy breast,
I struggle, sob, and swoon.

'O send me to my mother! bid her come,
And take my last farewell!
One blow!. . enough for both. . one tomb. .
'Tis there our happy dwell.'

Thou orderest: call'd and gone
At once they are who breathe for thy command.
Thou stoodest nigh me, soothing every moan,
And pressing in both thine my hand,

Then, and then only, when it tore
My hair to hide my face;
And gently did thy own bend o'er
The abject head war-doomed to dire disgrace.

Ionian was thy tongue,
And when thou badest me to raise
That head, nor fear in aught thy gaze,
I dared look up . . but dared not long.

'Wait, maiden, wait! if none are here
Bearing a charm to charm a tear,
There may (who knows?) be found at last
Some solace for the sorrow past.'

My mother, ere the sounds had ceast,
Burst in, and drew me down:
Her joy o'erpowered us both, her breast
Covered lost friends and ruin'd town.

Sweet thought! but yielding now
To many harsher! By what blow
Art thou dissevered from me? War,
That hath career'd too far,
Closeth his pinions. 'Come, Phraortes, come
To thy fond friends at home!'

Thus beckons Love. Away then, wishes wild!
O may thy mother be as blest
As one whose eyes will sink to rest
Blessing thee for her rescued child!

Ungenerous stil my heart must be:
Throughout the young and festive train
Which thou revisitest again
May none be happier (this I fear) than she!

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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