Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ECHETLOS, by ROBERT BROWNING



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ECHETLOS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Here is a story, shall stir you!
Last Line: -- satrap in sardis court! Name not the clown like these!
Subject(s): Marathon, Battle Of (490 B.c.)


HERE is a story, shall stir you! Stand up, Greeks dead and gone,
Who breasted, beat Barbarians, stemmed Persia rolling on,
Did the deed and saved the world, for the day was Marathon!
No man but did his manliest, kept rank and fought away
In his tribe and file: up, back, out, down -- was the spear-arm play:
Like a wind-whipt branchy wood, all spear arms a-swing that day!
But one man kept no rank, and his sole arm plied no spear,
As a flashing came and went, and a form i' the van, the rear,
Brightened the battle up, for he blazed now there, now here.

Nor helmed nor shielded, he! but, a goat-skin all his wear,
Like a tiller of the soil, with a clown's limbs broad and bare,
Went he ploughing on and on: he pushed with a ploughman's share.

Did the weak mid-line give way, as tunnies on whom the shark
Precipitates his bulk? Did the right-wing halt when, stark
On his heap of slain lay stretched Kallimachos Polemarch?

Did the steady phalanx falter? To the rescue, at the need,
The clown was ploughing Persia, clearing Greek earth of weed,
As he routed through the Sakian and rooted up the Mede.

But the deed done, battle won, -- nowhere to be descried
On the meadow, by the stream, at the marsh, -- look far and wide
From the foot of the mountain, no, to the last
blood-plashed sea-side, --

Not anywhere on view blazed the large limbs thonged and brown,
Shearing and clearing still with the share before which -- down
To the dust went Persia's pomp, as he ploughed for Greece, that clown!

How spake the Oracle? "Care for no name at all!
Say but just this: 'We praise one helpful whom we call
The Holder of the Ploughshare.' The great deed ne'er grows small."

Not the great name! Sing -- woe for the great name Miltiades
And its end at Paros isle! Woe for Themistokles
-- Satrap in Sardis court! Name not the clown like these!





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