To Corinth

Walter Savage Landor

QUEEN of the double sea, beloved of him

Who shakes the world’s foundations, thou hast seen

Glory in all her beauty, all her forms;

Seen her walk back with Theseus when he left

The bones of Sciron bleaching to the wind,

Above the ocean’s roar and cormorant’s flight,

So high that vastest billows from above

Show but like herbage waving in the mead;

Seen generations throng thy Isthmian games,

And pass away,—the beautiful, the brave,

And them who sang their praises.

                          But, O queen,

Audible still, and far beyond thy cliffs,

As when they first were uttered, are those words

Divine which praised the valiant and the just;

And tears have often stopt, upon that ridge

So perilous, him who brought before his eye

The Colchian babes.

                “Stay! spare him! save the last!

Medea!—is that blood? again! it drops

From my imploring hand upon my feet!—

I will invoke the Eumenides no more.

I will forgive thee,—bless thee,—bend to thee

In all thy wishes,—do but thou, Medea,

Tell me, one lives.”

                  “And shall I too deceive?”

Cries from the fiery car an angry voice;

And swifter than two falling stars descend

Two breathless bodies,—warm, soft, motionless,

As flowers in stillest noon before the sun,

They lie three paces from him,—such they lie

As when he left them sleeping side by side,

A mother’s arm round each, a mother’s cheeks

Between them, flushed with happiness and love.

He was more changed than they were,—doomed to show

Thee and the stranger, how defaced and scarred

Grief hunts us down the precipice of years,

And whom the faithless prey upon the last.


  To give the inertest masses of our earth

Her loveliest forms was thine, to fix the gods

Within thy walls, and hang their tripods round

With fruits and foliage knowing not decay.

A nobler work remains: thy citadel

Invites all Greece; o’er lands and floods remote

Many are the hearts that still beat high for thee:

Confide then in thy strength, and unappalled

Look down upon the plain, while yokemate kings

Run bellowing, where their herdsmen goad them on;

Instinct is sharp in them, and terror true,—

They smell the floor whereon their necks must lie.

Main Location:

Corinthe, Greece