STRANGER, thou art standing now
On Colonus’ sparry brow;
All the haunts of Attic ground,
Where the matchless coursers bound,
Boast not, through their realms of bliss,
Other spot as fair as this.
Frequent down this greenwood dale,
Mourns the warbling nightingale,
Nestling ‘mid the thickest screen
Of the ivy’s darksome green;
Or where, each empurpled shoot
Drooping with its myriad fruit,
Curled in many a mazy twine,
Blooms the never-trodden vine,
By the god’s protecting power
Safe from sun and storm and shower.
Bacchus here, the summer long,
Revels with the goddess throng,
Nymphs who erst, on Nyssa’s wild,
Reared to man the rosy child.
Here Narcissus, day by day,
Buds, in clustering beauty gay,
Sipping aye, at morn and even,
All the nectar dews of heaven,
Wont amid your locks to shine,
Ceres fair, and Proserpine.
Here the golden Crocus gleams,
Murmur here unfailing streams,
Sleep the bubbling fountains never,
Feeding pure Cephisus river,
Whose prolific waters daily
Bid the pastures blossom gayly,
With the showers of spring-tide blending,
On the lap of earth descending.
Here the Nine, to notes of pleasure,
Love to tread their choral measure,
Venus, o’er those flowerets gliding,
Oft her rein of gold is guiding.
Now a brighter boast than all
Shall my grateful song recall;
Yon proud shrub, that will not smile,
Pelops, on thy Doric isle,
Nor on Asiatic soil,
But unsown, unsought by toil,
Self-engendered, year by year,
Springs to life a native here.
Tree the trembling foeman shuns,
Garland for Athena’s sons,
May the olive long be ours,
None may break its sacred bowers,
None its boughs of silvery gray
Young or old may bear away:
Morian Jove, with look of love,
Ever guards it from above,
Blue-eyed Pallas watch unsleeping
O’er her favorite tree is keeping.
Swell the song of praise again;
Other boons demand my strain,
Other blessings we inherit,
Granted by the mighty Spirit;
On the sea and on the shore,
Ours the bridle and the oar.
Son of Saturn old! whose sway
Stormy winds and waves obey,
Thine be honor’s well-earned meed,
Tamer of the champing steed:
First he wore on Attic plain
Bit of steel and curbing rein.
Oft too o’er the waters blue,
Athens, strain thy laboring crew;
Practiced hands the bark are plying,
Oars are bending, spray is flying,
Sunny waves beneath them glancing,
Sportive Nereids round them dancing,
With their hundred feet in motion,
Twinkling ‘mid the foam of ocean.
This English translation, by Joseph Anstice, of ‘Praise of Colonus’ is reprinted from Greek Poets in English Verse. Ed. William Hyde Appleton. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1893.