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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/Translation of the famous Greek War Song

TRANSLATION OF THE FAMOUS GREEK WAR SONG,

"Δεῦτε παῖδες τῶν 'Ελλήνῶν."[1]

Sons of the Greeks, arise!
The glorious hour's gone forth,
And, worthy of such ties,
Display who gave us birth.


CHORUS.

Sons of Greeks! let us go
In arms against the foe,
Till their hated blood shall flow
In a river past our feet.


Then manfully despising
The Turkish tyrant's yoke,
Let your country see you rising,
And all her chains are broke.
Brave shades of chiefs and sages,
Behold the coming strife!
Hellénes of past ages,
Oh, start again to life!
At the sound of my trumpet, breaking
Your sleep, oh, join with me!
And the seven-hilled city[2] seeking,
Fight, conquer, till we're free.

Sons of Greeks, etc.


Sparta, Sparta, why in slumbers
Lethargic dost thou lie?
Awake, and join thy numbers
With Athens, old ally!
Leonidas recalling,
That chief of ancient song,
Who saved ye once from falling,
The terrible! the strong!
Who made that bold diversion
In old Thermopylæ,
And warring with the Persian
To keep his country free;
With his three hundred waging
The battle, long he stood,
And like a lion raging,
Expired in seas of blood.

Sons of Greeks, etc.

[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (4to).]

  1. The song Δεῦτε παῖδες, etc., was written by Riga, who perished in the attempt to revolutionize Greece. This translation is as literal as the author could make it in verse. It is of the same measure as that of the original. [For the original, see Poetical Works, 1891, Appendix, p. 792. For Constantine Rhigas, see Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 199, note 2. Hobhouse (Travels in Albania, 1858, ii. 3) prints a version (Byron told Murray that it was "well enough," Letters, 1899, iii. 13) of Δεῦτε παῖδες, of his own composition. He explains in a footnote that the metre is "a mixed trochaic, except the chorus." "This song," he adds, "the chorus particularly, is sung to a tune very nearly the same as the Marseillois Hymn. Strangely enough, Lord Byron, in his translation, has entirely mistaken the metre." The first stanza runs as follows:—

    "Greeks arise! the day of glory
    Comes at last your swords to claim.
    Let us all in future story
    Rival our forefathers' fame.
    Underfoot the yoke of tyrants
    Let us now indignant trample,
    Mindful of the great example,
    And avenge our country's shame."]

  2. Constantinople, "'Επτάλοφος."