Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ODE IN IMITATION OF ALCAEUS, by WILLIAM JONES

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AN ODE IN IMITATION OF ALCAEUS, by                    
First Line: What constitutes a state?
Last Line: And steal inglorious to the silent grave.
Variant Title(s): A [or The] State;what Constitutes A State?
Subject(s): England; Freedom; Patriotism; English; Liberty

WHAT constitutes a state?
Not high-raised battlement or labored mound,
Thick wall or moated gate;
Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned;
Not bays and broad-armed ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;
Not starred and spangled courts,
Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to
No: -- men, high-minded men,
With powers as far above dull brutes endued
In forest, brake, or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude, --
Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and, knowing, dare main-
Prevent the long-aimed blow,
And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain;
These constitute a State;
And sovereign law, that State's collected will,
O'er thrones and globes elate
Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill.
Smit by her sacred frown,
The fiend, Dissension, like a vapor sinks;
And e'en the all-dazzling crown
Hides his faint rays, and at her bidding shrinks.
Such was this heaven-loved isle,
Than Lesbos fairer and the Cretan shore!
No more shall freedom smile?
Shall Britons languish, and be men no more?
Since all must life resign,
Those sweet rewards which decorate the brave
'T is folly to decline,
And steal inglorious to the silent grave.

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