Nicholas Michell

Delos that wandered floating on the waves,
Her mountains trembling, vocal all her caves,
Where sprang a god to life, and blazed a shrine
Heaped with the wealth of kings, and deemed divine — *
Alas! what see we now? no gorgeous fane,
No votive bark that ploughs the Summer main;
The sacred groves, the incense-breathing bowers,
The golden altars decked with fruits and flowers, —
All, all are gone — a pillar crushed and lone,
A few stained porphyry steps with weeds o'ergrown,
Like some lorn remnant left from battle's hour,
Alone are found to speak her pride and power.
Against the barren rocks the wild waves beat,
Each secret cove the pirate's dark retreat,
And o'er the hills, like some god's parting sigh,
Floats the lone seabird's shrill and mournful cry.


Since Michell wrote, Delos has been substantially excavated and is a fascinating place to visit. It sits at the centre of the group of Greek islands known as the Cyclades.

Author's Note: Delos, where Apollo and Diana were born, is represented, by a fiction of the poets, as moving on the waters. The Athenians dispatched annually a sacred galley, called Tiieoris, with costly offerings to the Delian Apollo, and the festival held in the island every fifth year was one of the most celebrated in all Greece.

Main Location:

Island of Delos, Cyclades, Greek Islands, Aegean Sea, Greece

Ruins of Ancient Greek temples on the holy - and poetic - island of Delos