Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SHIP NEWS, by A-N



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SHIP NEWS, by            
First Line: Piraeus - salamis - what sails are these
Last Line: Piraeus . . . Salamis . . . They are lost between . . .
Subject(s): Boats; Disasters; Greece; Shipwrecks; Greeks


Piraeus . . . Salamis . . . What sails are these,
Glinting with golden dust of centuries
And suns of glory long since set, that dock
'Mid alien steamers at our grimy wharves?
Dispatches -- cable, radio, telegraph,
And bulging mail bags -- these can wait. We know
What news they bring. . . . Come, heralds, quit your galley.
What of Piraeus? What of Salamis?

"Thermopylae is lost -- Leonidas
And all his men sleep with the host they slew.
The flood of Asia through the river dam
Roars down on Athens, cracks an empty shell.
The city built of earth is gone, to rise
Upon the wave, with freedom fugitive.
For Athens rides the sea, her ramparts now
The wooden walls the oracle foretold.

"The Grecian ships are massed at Salamis;
And at the entrance to their harbourage,
Like cat at mouse hole, Xerxes' mighty fleet
Crouches to spring. . . . Our captains argue down
Flight-poised allies till flight is vain. . . . All day
The bosom of our fair Greek plain, the sea,
Heaves with the anguish of the fight. . . . All day
Looks Xerxes from his throne, as at a play.
He hath his fill of tribute out of Greece:
Water and earth! -- Our blue AEgean drinks
The boasts of Persia, and the Persian chains
Rust in her ooze. . . .

"Good news from Salamis!
O ye who love brave deeds -- O ye who kneel
At freedom's altar only -- Athens lives!
And from her ashes presently shall rise.
For to Piraeus now we point our prows.
Good news, O sons of freedom -- freedom lives!"
Piraeus . . . Salamis . . . Those shining sails
Gray in the twilight now. . . . The anchor's up.
Linger a little, while they thread their course
Among our dingy craft, to sea again.
Dreams dock but seldom in our ports of trade.
Piraeus . . . Salamis . . . They are lost between . . .





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