MARCO BOZZARIS




FITZ-GREENE HALLECK

Fitz-Greene Halleck

Biographical and Historical: Fitz-Greene Halleck was born in Guilford Connecticut, July 8, 1790, and died November 19, 1867. Of his poems, "Marco Bozzaris" is probably the best known. Marco Bozzaris, leader of the Greek revolution, was, killed August 20, 1823, in an attack upon the Turks near Missolonghi, a Greek town. His last words were: "To die for liberty is a pleasure, not a pain."

    At midnight, in his guarded tent,
        The Turk was dreaming of the hour
    When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent,
        Should tremble at his power.
    In dreams, through camp and court he bore
    The trophies of a conqueror;
        In dreams, his song of triumph heard;
    Then wore his monarch's signet-ring;
    Then pressed that monarch's throne--a king:
    As wild his thoughts, and gay of wing,
        As Eden's garden-bird.
    At midnight, in the forest shades,
        Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band,
    True as the steel of their tried blades,
        Heroes in heart and hand.
    There had the Persian's thousands stood,
    There had the glad earth drunk their blood,
        On old Platæa's day:
    And now there breathed that haunted air,
    The sons of sires who conquered there,
    With arms to strike, and soul to dare,
        As quick, as far as they.
    An hour passed on--the Turk awoke;
        That bright dream was his last:
    He woke--to hear his sentries shriek,
    "To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!"
    He woke--to die mid flames and smoke,
    And shout and groan, and sabre-stroke,
        And death-shots falling thick and fast
    As lightnings from the mountain-cloud;
    And heard, with voice as trumpet loud,
        Bozzaris cheer his band:
    "Strike!--till the last armed foe expires;
    Strike!--for your altars and your fires;
    Strike!--for the green graves of your sires;
        God--and your native land!"
    They fought--like brave men, long and well;
        They piled the ground with Moslem slain;
    They conquered--but Bozzaris fell,
        Bleeding at every vein.
    His few surviving comrades saw
    His smile, when rang their proud--"Hurrah,"
        And the red field was won:
    Then saw in death his eyelids close,
    Calmly as to a night's response,
        Like flowers at set of sun.
    But to the hero, when his sword
        Has won the battle for the free,
    Thy voice sounds like a prophet's word,
    And in its hollow tones are heard
        The thanks of millions yet to be.
    Bozzaris! with, the storied brave
    Greece nurtured in her glory's time,
    Rest thee--there is no prouder grave,
        Even in her own proud clime.
    We tell thy doom without a sigh;
    For thou art Freedom's now, and Fame's--
    One of the few, the immortal names
        That were not born to die.