Isabella Valancy Crawford

From:The Helot

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Who may quench the god-born fire
Pulsing at the soul's deep root?
Tyrant, grind it in the mire,
Lo, it vivifies the brute!
Stings the chain-embruted clay,
Senseless to his yoke-bound shame;
Goads him on to rend and slay,
Knowing not the spurring flame!
Tyrant, changeless stand the gods,
Nor their calm might yielded thee;
Not beneath thy chains and rods
Dies man's god-gift, Liberty!
Bruteward lash thy Helots, hold
Brain and soul and clay in gyves,
Coin their blood and sweat in gold,
Build thy cities on their lives,–
Comes a day the spark divine
Answers to the gods who gave;
Fierce the hot flames pant and shine
In the bruised breast of the slave.
Changeless stand the gods!–nor he
Knows he answers their behest,
Feels the might of their decree
In the blind rage of his breast.
Tyrant, tremble when ye tread
Down the servile Helot clods!
Under despot heel is bred
The white anger of the gods.
Through the shackle-cankered dust,
Through the gyved soul, foul and dark,
Force they, changeless gods and just,
Up the bright, eternal spark,
Till, like lightnings vast and fierce,
On the land its terror smites;
Till its flames the tyrant pierce,
Till the dust the despot bites.

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Isabella Valancy Crawford