Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, XERXES, by SAMUEL JOHNSON (1709-1784)

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XERXES, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: In gay hostility and barbarous pride
Last Line: Through purple billows and a floating host.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson, Dr.
Subject(s): Dardanelles; Xeres I, The Great (519-465 B.c.); Hellespont

IN gay hostility and barbarous pride,
With half mankind embattled at his side,
Great Xerxes comes to seize the certain prey,
And starves exhausted regions in his way;
Attendant Flattery counts his myriads o'er,
Till counted myriads soothe his pride no more;
Fresh praise is tried till madness fires his mind,
The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind;
New powers are claimed, new powers are still bestowed,
Till rude resistance lops the spreading god;
The daring Greeks deride the martial show,
And heap their valleys with the gaudy foe;
The insulted sea with humbler thoughts he gains,
A single skiff to speed his flight remains;
The incumbered oar scarce leaves the dreaded coast
Through purple billows and a floating host.

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