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I call the man unworthy of my praise,
Who wins the palm in wrestling or the race ;
Should he excel in bulk and strength mankind,
Or in the course outstrip the Thracian wind;
Though Nature gave him Tithon's form divine,
And Asia poured him wealth from every mine;
Though Pelops' wide domains to him belong,
And more, Adrastus' eloquence of tongue;
Though fortune every other virtue gave,
And yet deny the greatest-to be brave.
And brave alone is he, who can sustain
The wild confusion of the bloody plain;
Can death and wounds behold with dire delight,
And shady legions moving to the fight.
For he alone a lasting name can raise,
And crown his early years with martial praise,
Who in the front of battle stands unmoved,
The bulwark of the country which he loved;
And loving, prodigal of life, to die,
Avoids no evil more than basely fly.
His great example shall the host inspire,
And thousands follow actions they admire.
He turns the phalanx of the foe to flight,
And rules, with martial art, the tide of fight:
And when he falls amid the field of fame,
He leaves behind a great and lasting name;
His sire, his country, shall with joy surround
His corse, and read their glory in his wound.
and old shall sing his dirge of woe ;
And his long fun'ral all the town pursue :
His tomb shall be revered : his children shine
Through every age, a long-extended line.
Ne'er shall his glory fade, or cease his fame;
Though laid in dust, immortal is his name,
Who never from the field of battle fies,
But for his children and his country dies.
But if the sable hand of death he shun,
Returning victor, with his glory won;
By young and old revered, his life he'll lead,
And full of honour sink among the dead:
Or with his growing years his fame shall grow,
And all shall reverence his head of snow".
The higher place from every youth he bears,
And age shall quit him all the claim of years.
Who then desires to rise to such a height,
Desires in vain, if he forget the fight.
And all shall reverence his head of snow.] See Lathmon, Vol. i. pr. 495. where the repetition of the greater part of this paragraph authenticates the translation of Tyrtæus by Macpherson.
Ye, then, who boast Alcides' race divine,
Be strong; great Jove shall ne'er forsake his line.
Aided by Heav'n, no human prowess fear;
Exalt the shady buckler to the war.
But, bent on fate, what danger need you fly,
Or shun a death so grateful to the sky
Ye knew the horrid work of arms before,
The dismal shock of battle oft ye bore;
Or when you fled, or when the field you won,
In each reverse to you is fortune known.
For those who, in the front of battle, dare
Fight hand to hand, and bear the brunt of war,
But rarely fall. Though dastards skulk behind,
The fate they shun still haunts the cow'rdly kind.
What mind can well conceive, or tongue relate,
The ills unnamed that on the truant wait ?
To shun his fate when from the field he lies,
Pierced from behind, th' inglorious coward dies.
When prone he lies and gasping on the ground,
What shame, to see behind the gaping wound !
But, firm to earth, let every warrior grow,
Strain his large limbs, and low'ring eye the foe;
Let every shield, a mighty round, displayed,
From head to foot the gathered warrior shade;
Each vig'rous hand the spear portended hold,
When dreadful nods above the casque of gold.
To mighty deeds let each his arm extend,
Nor dread the darts his buckler may defend.
To distance let him not project the spear,
hand to hand the work of war;
Shield closed to shield, advance th” imbattled line,
Crest reach to crest, and casque to helmet join;
When, breast to breast, are stretched the ranks of war,
Hew them with swords, or break them with the spear.
Ye, whom no heavy panoplies inclose,
Discharge, at distance, stones against the foes,
And hurl with martial force the missive spear ;
But near the phalanx, shun the closer war.
How graceful lies the brave man on the plain,
Covered with wounds, and for his country slain!
But ah! expelled from home, how mean ! how low!
Through foreign realms to lead a life of woe !
Strolling with parents sunk in wieldless years,
A helpless wife, and infants drowned in tears !
Condemned to want and shame, him all shall hate,
And drive the wand'rer from the closing gate.
His form he shall disgrace, his race, his blood,
By ills unnamed and infamy pursued.
Nor only is the dastard lost to fame,
But, what is worse, to all the sense of shame.
But let us fight for Sparta while we may,
Nor spare a life which soon must pass away.
Collect your bands, ye warriors, closely fight;
Forget your fear; forget inglorious flight.
Let glory every martial bosom fill,
Nor value life when foes remain to kill.
Leave not the hoary vet’rans numbed with age,
Where burns the combat, and the thickest rage :
What shame! an aged warrior prone should lie,
Transfixed with wounds, when younger men are by;
His beard transformed, his wrinkled temples gray,
And breathe, in dust, his dauntless soul away?
Who can his hands behold, with shameless eyes,
Cov'ring his naked carcase as he lies,
Decent in death ?--But all things youth become,
Whom nature covers with her fairest bloom;
Graceful, in life, to men and women's eyes ;
Graceful, in death, when on the field he lies.
Then, once engaged, let every warrior grow
Firm to the earth, and low'r upon the foe.