James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

September 28


By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

  • From “Childe Harold”
  • One of the decisive battles of the world as it ended Darius’ attempts against Greece. Eleven thousand Greeks under Miltiades, resisted over 100,000 Persians under Datis and Artaphernes. It was fought on Sept. 28, 490 B.C.

  • WHERE’ER we tread ’tis haunted, holy ground;

    No earth of thine is lost in vulgar mould,

    But one vast realm of wonder spreads around,

    And all the Muse’s tales seem truly told,

    Till the sense aches with gazing to behold

    The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt upon:

    Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and wold,

    Defies the power which crush’d thy temples gone:

    Age shakes Athena’s tower, but spares gray Marathon.

    The sun, the soil, but not the slave, the same;

    Unchanged in all except its foreign lord—

    Preserves alike its bounds and boundless fame;

    The Battlefield, where Persia’s victim horde

    First bowed beneath the brunt of Hellas’ sword,

    As on the morn to distant Glory dear,

    When Marathon became a magic word;

    Which uttered, to the hearer’s eye appear

    The camp, the host, the fight, the conqueror’s career.

    The flying Mede, his shaftless broken bow;

    The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear;

    Mountains above, Earth’s, Ocean’s plain below;

    Death in the front, Destruction in the rear!

    Such was the scene—what now remaineth here?

    What sacred trophy marks the hallow’d ground,

    Recording Freedom’s smile and Asia’s tear?

    The rifled urn, the violated mound,

    The dust thy courser’s hoof, rude stranger, spurns around.

    Yet to the remnants of thy splendor past

    Shall pilgrims, pensive, but unwearied, throng;

    Long shall the voyager, with th’ Ionian blast,

    Hail the bright clime of battle and of song;

    Long shall thine annals and immortal tongue

    Fill with thy fame the youth of many a shore:

    Boast of the aged! lesson of the young!

    Which sages venerate and bards adore,

    As Pallas and the Muse unveil their awful lore.