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The Slavery Of Greece

George Canning 1770 (Marylebone, Middlesex) – 1827 (Chiswick, Middlesex)

Unrivall'd Greece! thou ever honor'd name,
Thou nurse of heroes dear to deathless fame!
Though now to worth, to honor all unknown,
Thy lustre faded, and thy glories flown;
Yet still shall Memory, with reverted eye,
Trace thy past worth, and view thee with a sigh.

Thee Freedom cherish'd once with fostering hand,
And breath'd undaunted valour through the land;
Here, the stern spirit of the Spartan soil,
The child of poverty, inur'd to toil.

Here, lov'd by Pallas and the sacred Nine,
Once did fair Athens' tow'ring glories shine,
To bend the bow, or the bright faulchion wield,
To lift the bulwark of the brazen shield,
To toss the terror of the whizzing spear,
The conqu'ring standard's glitt'ring glories rear,
And join the mad'ning battle's loud career.

How skill'd the Greeks; confess what Persians slain
Were strew'd on Marathon's ensanguin'd plain;
When heaps on heaps the routed squadron fell,
And with their gaudy myriads peopled hell.
What millions bold Leonidas withstood,
And seal'd the Grecian freedom with his blood;
Witness Thermopylæ! how fierce he trod!
How spoke a hero, and how mov'd a God!
The rush of nations could alone sustain,
While half the ravag'd globe was arm'd in vain.
Let Leuctra say, let Mantinea tell,
How great Epaminondas fought and fell!

Nor war's vast art alone adorn'd thy fame,
"But mild philosophy endear'd thy name."
Who knows not, sees not with admiring eye,
How Plato thought, how Socrates could die?

To bend the arch to bid the column rise,
And the tall pile aspiring pierce the skies;
The awful scene magnificently great,
With pictur'd pomp to grace, and sculptur'd state,
This science taught; on Greece each science shone:
Here the bold statue started from the stone;
Here, warm with life, the swelling canvass glow'd;
Here, big with life, the poet's raptures flow'd;
Here Homer's lip was touch'd with sacred fire,
And wanton Sappho tun'd her am'rous lyre;
Here bold Tyrtæus rous'd th' enervate throng
Awak'd to glory by th' inspiring song;
Here Pindar soar'd a nobler, loftier way,
And brave Alcæus, scorn'd a tyrant's sway;
Here gorgeous Tragedy, with great controul,
Touch'd every feeling of th' impassion'd soul;
While in soft measure tripping to the song,
Her comic sister lightly danc'd along--

This was thy state! But oh! how chang'd thy fame,
And all thy glories fading into shame.
What! that thy bold, thy freedom-breathing land,
Should crouch beneath a tyrant's stern command;
That servitude should bind in galling chain;
Whom Asia's millions once oppos'd in vain,
Who could have thought? Who sees without a groan,
Thy cities mould'ring and thy walls o'erthrown?
That where once tower'd the stately solemn fane,
Now moss-grown ruins strew the ravag'd plain;
And unobserv'd but by the traveller's eye
Proud vaulted domes in fretted fragments lie;
And thy fall'n column on the dusty ground,
Pale ivy throws its sluggish arms around.

Thy sons (sad change!) in abject bondage sigh;
Unpitied toil, and unlamented die;
Groan at the labours of the galling oar,
Or the dark caverns of the mine explore.
The glitt'ring tyranny of Othman's sons,
The pomp of horror which surrounds their thrones
Has aw'd their servile spirits into fear;
Spurn'd by the foot, they tremble and revere.

The day of labour, night's sad sleepless hour,
Th' inflictive scourge of arbitrary pow'r,
The bloody terror of the pointed steel,
The murd'rous stake, the agonizing wheel,
And (dreadful choice!) the bow-string or the bowl,
Damps their faint vigour, and unmans the soul.

Disastrous fate! still tears will fill the eye,
Still recollection prompt the mournful sigh,
When to thy mind recurs thy former fame,
And all the horrors of thy present shame.

So some tall rock, whose bare broad bosom high,
Tow'rs from th' earth, and braves th' inclement sky;
On whose vast top the blackening deluge pours,
At whose wide base the thund'ring ocean roars;
In conscious pride its huge gigantic form
Surveys imperious, and defies the storm.
Till worn by age and mould'ring to decay,
Th' insidious waters wash its base away;
It falls, and falling cleaves the trembling ground,
And spreads a tempest of destruction round.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:45 min read

George Canning

George Canning, FRS, was a British statesman and politician who served as Foreign Secretary and was briefly Prime Minister. Canning was born into an Anglo-Irish family at his parents' home in Queen Anne Street, Marylebone, London. Canning described himself as "an Irishman born in London". His father, George Canning, Sr., of Garvagh, County Londonderry, Ireland, was a gentleman of limited means, a failed wine merchant and lawyer, who renounced his right to inherit the family estate in exchange for payment of his substantial debts. George Sr. eventually abandoned the family and died in poverty on 11 April 1771, his son's first birthday, in London. Canning's mother, Mary Anne Costello, took work as a stage actress, a profession not considered respectable at the time. Indeed when in 1827 it looked as if Canning would become Prime Minister, Lord Grey remarked that "the son of an actress is, ipso facto, disqualified from becoming Prime Minister". more…

All George Canning poems | George Canning Books

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