Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ARISTODEMUS AT PLATAEA, by JOHN RUSKIN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ARISTODEMUS AT PLATAEA, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Ye have darkened mine honor and branded my name
Last Line: And the desolate hope of the death unadorned.
Subject(s): Cowardice; Heroism; Persian Wars; Plataea, Greece; Heroes; Heroines; Laspi

YE have darkened mine honor and branded my name,
Ye have quenched its remembrance in silence and shame.
Yet the heart ye call craven, unbroken, hath borne
The voice of your anger, the glance of your scorn.

But the life that hath lingered is now in mine hand,
My waiting was but for a lot of the land,
Which his measure, who ruleth the battle array,
May mete for your best and your bravest to-day.

My kinsmen, my brothers, your phalanx is fair,
There's a shield, as I think, that should surely be there;
Ye have darkened its disk, and its hour hath drawn near
To be reared as a trophy or borne as a bier.

What said I? Alas, though the foe in his flight,
Should quit me unspoiled on the field of the fight,
Ye would leave me to lie, with no hand to inurn,
For the dog to devour, or the stranger to spurn!

What matter? Attendants my slumber shall grace,
With blood on the breast, and with fear on the face;
And Sparta may own that the death hath atoned
For the crime of the cursed, whose life she disowned.

By the banks of Eurotas her maidens shall meet,
And her mountains rejoice in the fall of your feet;
And the cry of your conquest be lofty and loud,
O'er the lengthened array of the shield or the shroud.

And the fires of the grave shall empurple the air,
When they lick the white dust of the bones ye shall bear;
The priest and the people, at altar and shrine,
Shall worship their manes, disdainful of mine.

Yet say that they fought for the hopes of their breast,
For the hearts that had loved them, the lips that had blessed;
For the roofs that had covered, the country that claimed,
The sires that had named them, the sons they had named.

And say that I fought for the land of the free,
Though its bosom of blessing beat coldly for me;
For the lips that had cursed me, the hearts that had scorned,
And the desolate hope of the death unadorned.

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