Page:A Book of Czech Verse.pdf/71

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J. S. Machar (1864–1942)




Spartans, from Thermopylae I run;
Leonidas that sent me, as he died . . .
Then all have fallen? . . .
“As their homeland’s writ
Had bidden them. Around, barbaric dead
Lie heaped like mountains. Thence, on airy foot,
Laconian glory speeds through Hellas’ land.”
My son Agil . . .?”
“Like bees that seek their hive,
So flew a Persian spear within his breast . . .
. . . My son . . . he was a mortal. O ye gods
Eternal, now I feel a mother’s joy.”

Why, so. Well spoken. Yet no blessing rests
On me the courier, whom a sightless chance
Has sentenced to this melancholy task,
Compelled to leave my post. And whither now?
To wander in the light of day, the spoil
Of Hades, living on; and, for my lot,
Contempt from all. And, when I die, unmourned,
A lonely shade through Hades’ halls to stray;
My comrades from the fight shall know me not,
And shame will let me call to them no more.”