Marco Bozzaris

By Fitz-Greene Halleck

At midnight, in his guarded tent,
The Turk was dreaming of the hour
When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent,
Should tremble at his power.
In dreams, through camp and court he bore
The trophies of a conqueror;
In dreams, his song of triumph heard;
Then wore his monarch’s signet ring;
Then pressed that monarch’s throne—a king:
As wild his thoughts, and gay of wing,
As Eden’s garden bird.
At midnight, in the forest shades,
Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band,
True as the steel of their tried blades,
Heroes in heart and hand.
There had the Persian’s thousands stood,
There had the glad earth drunk their blood,
On old Plataea’s day:
And now there breathed that haunted air,
The sons of sires who conquered there,
With arms to strike, and soul to dare,
As quick, as far as they.
An hour passed on—the Turk awoke;
That bright dream was his last:
He woke—to hear his sentries shriek,
“To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!”
He woke—to die mid flame and smoke,
And shout, and groan, and saber stroke,
And death shots falling thick and fast
As lightnings from the mountain cloud;
And heard, with voice as trumpet loud,
Bozzaris cheer his band:
“Strike—till the last armed foe expires;
Strike—for your altars and your fires;
Strike—for the green graves of your sires;
God—and your native land!”
They fought—like brave men, long and well;
They piled that ground with Moslem slain;
They conquered—but Bozzaris fell,
Bleeding at every vein.
His few surviving comrades saw
His smile, when rang their proud hurrah,
And the red field was won:
Then saw in death his eyelids close
Calmly, as to a night’s repose,
Like flowers at set of sun.
Come to the bridal chamber, Death!
Come to the mother, when she feels
For the first time her firstborn’s breath;
Come when the blessed seals
That close the pestilence are broke,
And crowded cities wail its stroke;
Come in consumption’s ghastly form,
The earthquake’s shock, the ocean storm;
Come when the heart beats high and warm
With banquet song, and dance, and wine:
And thou art terrible—the tear,
The groan, the knell, the pall, the bier,
And all we know, or dream, or fear
Of agony, are thine.
But to the hero, when his sword
Has won the battle for the free,
Thy voice sounds like a prophet’s word;
And in its hollow tones are heard
The thanks of millions yet to be.
Bozzaris! with the storied brave
Greece nurtured in her glory’s time,
Rest thee—there is no prouder grave
Even in her own proud clime.
We tell thy doom without a sigh, For thou art Freedom’s, now, and Fame’s.
One of the few, the immortal names,
That were not born to die.