Home  »  library  »  poem  »  A Grecian Sunset

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

A Grecian Sunset

By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

From ‘The Curse of Minerva’

SLOW sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,

Along Morea’s hills the setting sun;

Not, as in Northern climes, obscurely bright,

But one unclouded blaze of living light:

O’er the hushed deep the yellow beam he throws,

Gilds the green wave that trembles as it glows.

On cold Ægina’s rock and Idra’s isle

The god of gladness sheds his parting smile;

O’er his own regions lingering, loves to shine,

Though there his altars are no more divine.

Descending fast, the mountain shadows kiss

Thy glorious gulf, unconquered Salamis!

Their azure arches through the long expanse,

More deeply purpled meet his mellowing glance,

And tenderest tints, along their summits driven,

Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven;

Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep,

Behind his Delphian cliff he sinks to sleep.

On such an eve his palest beam he cast,

When, Athens! here thy Wisest looked his last.

How watched thy better sons his farewell ray,

That closed their murdered sage’s latest day!

Not yet—not yet—Sol pauses on the hill—

The precious hour of parting lingers still:

But sad his light to agonizing eyes,

And dark the mountain’s once delightful dyes;

Gloom o’er the lovely land he seemed to pour,

The land where Phœbus never frowned before:

But ere he sank below Cithæron’s head,

The cup of woe was quaffed—the spirit fled;

The soul of him who scorned to fear or fly—

Who lived and died as none can live or die.

But lo! from high Hymettus to the plain,

The queen of night asserts her silent reign.

No murky vapor, herald of the storm,

Hides her fair face, nor girds her glowing form.

With cornice glimmering as the moonbeams play,

Where the white column greets her grateful ray,

And, bright around with quivering beams beset,

Her emblem sparkles o’er the minaret;

The groves of olive scattered dark and wide,

Where meek Cephisus pours his scanty tide,

The cypress saddening by the sacred mosque,

The gleaming turret of the gay kiosk,

And, dun and sombre ’mid the holy calm,

Near Theseus’s fane yon solitary palm,—

All, tinged with varied hues, arrest the eye,

And dull were his that passed them heedless by.

Again the Ægean, heard no more afar,

Lulls his chafed breast from elemental war;

Again his waves in milder tints unfold

Their long array of sapphire and of gold,

Mixed with the shades of many a distant isle,

That frown where gentler ocean deigns to smile.