How long will ye slumber? when will ye take heart
And fear the reproach of your neighbours at hand?
Fie! comrades, to think ye have peace for your part,
Whilst the sword and the arrow are wasting our land!
Shame! grasp the shield close! cover well the bold breast!
Aloft raise the spear as ye march on the foe!
With no thought of retreat, with no terror confessed,
Hurl your last dart in dying, or strike your last blow.
Oh, 't is noble and glorious to fight for our all, —
For our country, our children, the wife of our love!
Death comes not the sooner; no soldier shall fall,
Ere his thread is spun out by the sisters above.
Once to die is man's doom; rush, rush to the fight!
He cannot escape, though his blood were Jove's own.
For a while let him cheat the shrill arrow by flight;
Fate will catch him at last in his chamber alone.
Unlamented he dies; — unregretted. Not so.
When, the tower of his country, in death falls the brave;
Thrice hallowed his name amongst all, high or low,
As with blessings alive, so with tears in the grave.
Callinus (mid-7th century BC) Ancient Greece
Translated by Henry Nelson Coleridge
Source: Greek Poets in English Verse, edited by William Hyde Appleton; Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1893