Poetry Taken from The Edinburgh Magazine And Literary Miscellany June 1822/The Spartan's March

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For other versions of this work, see The Spartan's March.


"It was at once a delightful and terrible sight," says Plutarch, "to see them (the Spartans) marching on to the tunes of their flutes, without ever troubling their order, or confounding their ranks; their music leading them into danger with a deliberate hope and assurance, as if some Divinity had sensibly assisted them.
See Campbell on the Elegiac Poetry of the Greeks.

'Twas morn upon the Grecian hills,
    Where peasants dress'd the vines,
There was sunlight on Cithaeron's rills,
    Arcadia's rocks and pines.

And brightly through his reeds and flowers
    Eurotas wander'd by,
When a sound arose from Sparta's towers
    Of solemn harmony.

Was it the shepherds' choral strain,
    That hymn'd the forest-god?
Or the virgins, as to Pallas' fane,
    With their full-ton'd lyres they trod?

But helms were glancing on the stream,
    Spears rang'd in close array,
And shields flung back its glorious beam
    To the morn of a fearful day!

And the mountain-echoes of the land
    Swell'd through the deep-blue sky,
While to soft strains mov'd forth a band
    Of men that mov'd to die.

They march'd not with the trumpet's blast,
    Nor bade the horn peal out,
And the laurel-woods, as on they pass'd,
    Rung with no battle shout!

They ask'd no Clarion's voice to fire
    Their souls with an impulse high;
But the Dorian reed, and the Spartan lyre,
    For the sons of Liberty!

And still sweet flutes their path around
    Sent forth Eolian breath;
They needed not a sterner sound,
    To marshal them for death!

So mov'd they calmly to their field,
    Thence never to return,
Save bearing back the Spartan shield,
    Or on it proudly borne.