Ancient Corinth

Nicholas Michell

Yet relics, pointing thought to times of yore,
Still charm the eye on Corinth's blighted shore.
The Isthmian wall reveals its broken mass,
Half hid by pines, and high untrodden grass,
But where the champions strove, or chariots raced,
Ye scarce may tell, each ancient line effaced.
Still weeps Pirene from her fount of stone,
The brook's low trill like sorrow's plaintive moan,
As if, for countless years forlorn, undone,
The hapless mother mourned her perished son.*
But Corinth's boast, her Dorian columns rise,
A clustering group that Time's strong hand defies;
Athens', Egina's, Sunium's mouldering shrines,
Yield to their age, — a halo round them shines:
Serenely grand, majestically fair,
Those lonely columns look like mourners there;
Winds sigh around them, oldest of their race,
Rains wear their shafts, green ivy clasps their base,
Stars seem to view them sorrowing from the sky —
Ah! who unmoved might pass their beauty by?

Author's note:* The classic fable is, Pirene' haying lost her son, sat down near the Acrocorinthus and wept, until Diana, in compassion, changed her into a fountain. A dropping well just out of Corinth, on the public road, has been hailed as the fount of Pyrene'.