Edward Bulwer-Lytton: The Last Days of Pompeii

4. Chapter IV (continued)

But it was with a melancholy tone of forced gaiety that the Athenian uttered the last words: and sinking into a gloomy reverie, he was only wakened from it, a few minutes afterwards, by the voice of Nydia, as she sang in a low tone the following words, which he had once taught her:-



           Who will assume the bays
              That the hero wore?
           Wreaths on the Tomb of Days
              Gone evermore!
           Who shall disturb the brave,
           Or one leaf on their holy grave?
           The laurel is vowed to them,
           Leave the bay on its sacred stem!
              But this, the rose, the fading rose,
              Alike for slave and freeman grows.


           If Memory sit beside the dead
              With tombs her only treasure;
           If Hope is lost and Freedom fled,
              The more excuse for Pleasure.
           Come, weave the wreath, the roses weave,
              The rose at least is ours:
           To feeble hearts our fathers leave,
              In pitying scorn, the flowers!


             On the summit, worn and hoary,
           Of Phyle's solemn hill,
           The tramp of the brave is still!
           And still in the saddening Mart,
           The pulse of that mighty heart,
              Whose very blood was glory!
           Glaucopis forsakes her own,
              The angry gods forget us;
           But yet, the blue streams along,
           Walk the feet of the silver Song;
           And the night-bird wakes the moon;
           And the bees in the blushing noon
              Haunt the heart of the old Hymettus.
           We are fallen, but not forlorn,
              If something is left to cherish;
           As Love was the earliest born,
              So Love is the last to perish.


           Wreathe then the roses, wreathe
              The BEAUTIFUL still is ours,
           While the stream shall flow and the sky shall glow,
           The BEAUTIFUL still is ours!
           Whatever is fair, or soft, or bright,
           In the lap of day or the arms of night,
           Whispers our soul of Greece--of Greece,
           And hushes our care with a voice of peace.
              Wreathe then the roses, wreathe!
              They tell me of earlier hours;
           And I hear the heart of my Country breathe
              From the lips of the Stranger's flowers.

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