Walter Savage Landor

(30 January 1775 – 17 September 1864 / Warwick)

A Poet Leaving Athens


Speak not too ill of me, Athenian friends!
Nor ye, Athenian sages, speak too ill!
From others of all tribes am I secure.
I leave your confines: none whom you caress,
Finding me hungry and athirst, shall dip
Into Cephisos the grey bowl to quench
My thirst, or break the horny bread, and scoop
Stiffly around the scanty vase, wherewith
To gather the hard honey at the sides,
And give it me for having heard me sing.
Sages and friends! a better cause remains
For wishing no black sail upon my mast.
'Tis, friends and sages! lest, when other men
Say words a little gentler, ye repent,
Yet be forbidden by stern pride to share
The golden cup of kindness, pushing back
Your seats, and gasping for a draught of scorn.
Alas! shall this too, never lackt before,
Be, when you most would crave it, out of reach?
Thus on the plank, now Neptune is invoked,
I warn you of your peril: I must live,
And ye, O friends, howe'er unwilling, may.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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