Mount Taugetus

Nicholas Michell

We climb that mount of death, the stony height
Which looks o'er Sparta's wild and ruined site:*
Here would we stand and take our far survey
At night's still hour, and not by garish day.
The sun goes down ; the countless varying dyes,
Red, orange, blue, forsake the Western skies,
And fast the raven wings of darkness spread
O'er slumbering earth, and silent mountain's head:
The moon comes forth, and pours her stainless beams
To charm the elves, and lap the flowers in dreams,
Now veils her face with clouds, as if to weep
That men no more her mystic rites should keep.
Dark lower the ruins through eve's deepening pall,
Loud hoots the night-bird from yon rifted wall.
What scenes took place on Sparta's ancient plain,
Embalmed in history, famed by minstrel's strain!

Author's Note: * On Mount Taygetus were exposed, to die through cold and hunger, all those infants which from any physical defect would, if allowed to live, be incapacitated from serving the state.