Ode to Apollo

James Lister Cuthbertson

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"Tandem venias precamur
Nube candentes humeros amictus
Augur Apollo."

Lord of the golden lyre
Fraught with the Dorian fire,
Oh! fair-haired child of Leto, come again;
And if no longer smile
Delphi or Delos' isle,
Come from the depth of thine Aetnean glen,
Where in the black ravine
Thunders the foaming green
Of waters writhing far from mortals' ken;
Come o'er the sparkling brine,
And bring thy train divine --
The sweet-voiced and immortal violet-crowned Nine.

For here are richer meads,
And here are goodlier steeds
Than ever graced the glorious land of Greece;
Here waves the yellow corn,
Here is the olive born --
The gray-green gracious harbinger of peace;
Here too hath taken root
A tree with golden fruit,
In purple clusters hangs the vine's increase,
And all the earth doth wear
The dry clear Attic air
That lifts the soul to liberty, and frees the heart from care.

Or if thy wilder mood
Incline to solitude,
Eternal verdure girds the lonely hills,
Through the green gloom of ferns
Softly the sunset burns,
Cold from the granite flow the mountain rills;
And there are inner shrines
Made by the slumberous pines,
Where the rapt heart with contemplation fills,
And from wave-stricken shores
Deep wistful music pours
And floods the tempest-shaken forest corridors.

Oh, give the gift of gold
The human heart to hold
With liquid glamour of the Lesbian line;
With Pindar's lava glow,
With Sophocles' calm flow,
Or Aeschylean rapture airy fine;
Or with thy music's close
Thy last autumnal rose
Theocritus of Sicily, divine;
O Pythian Archer strong,
Time cannot do thee wrong,
With thee they live for ever, thy nightingales of song.

We too are island-born;
Oh, leave us not in scorn --
A songless people never yet was great.
We, suppliants at thy feet,
Await thy muses sweet
Amid the laurels at thy temple gate,
Crownless and voiceless yet,
But on our brows is set
The dim unwritten prophecy of fate,
To mould from out of mud
An empire with our blood,
To wage eternal warfare with the fire and flood.

Lord of the minstrel choir,
Oh, grant our hearts' desire,
To sing of truth invincible in might,
Of love surpassing death
That fears no fiery breath,
Of ancient inborn reverence for right,
Of that sea-woven spell
That from Trafalgar fell
And keeps the star of duty in our sight:
Oh, give the sacred fire,
And our weak lips inspire
With laurels of thy song and lightnings of thy lyre.

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