Today we celebrate Greek Independence Day. I have warm, wonderful
memories of the small Greek Orthodox church in Pennsylvania where I
was baptized and which I attended as a child. Please visit:
For today’s Blog I have chosen the verse eulogy MARCO BOZZARIS by the
American author Fitz-Greene Halleck (July 8, 1790 – November 19, 1867)
who was born and who died at Guilford, Connecticut. Although Halleck was
not a professional poet, but wrote only as a hobby, Abraham Lincoln
occasionally read Halleck's poetry aloud to friends in the White House;
and in 1877 a statue was erected to him, the first statue to commemorate
an American poet. It still stands on the Literary Walk on the Mall in
New York City's Central Park.
Marco Bozzaris (c. 1790 – 1823) was a prominent patriot in the
struggle for Greek liberty and won many victories from the Turks. During
the night of August 20, 1823, the Greeks won a complete victory which
was saddened by the loss of Bozzaris, who fell while leading his men to
the final attack. In this poem, reference is made to the Suliotes, from
the Suli Mountains of Greece, who fought with Bozzaris. Also mentioned
are the earlier Greeks who defeated the great invading army of Persians
at the battle of Platæa in 479 B.C.
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 Platæa's day;
And now there breathed that haunted air
The sons of sires who conquered there,
With arm to strike, and soul to dare,
As quick, as far, as they.
An hour passed on – the Turk awoke;
That bright dream was his at last;
He woke – to hear his sentries shriek,
"To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!"
He woke – to die 'midst flame and smoke,
And shout and groan and sabre-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 loud 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's when she feels,
For the first time, her first-born'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 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.
Come when his task of fame is wrought,
Come with her laurel-leaf, blood-bought,
Come in her crowning hour, and then
Thy sunken eye's unearthly light
To him is welcome as the sight
Of sky and stars to prisoned men;
Thy grasp is welcome as the hand
Of brother in a foreign land;
Thy summons welcome as the cry
That told the Indian isles were nigh
To the world-seeking Genoese,
When the land-wind, from woods of palm,
And orange groves and field of balm,
Blew o'er the Haytian seas.
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.
She wore no funeral-weeds for thee,
Nor bade the dark hearse wave its plume,
Like torn branch from death's leafless tree,
In sorrow's pomp and pageantry,
The heartless luxury of the tomb.
But she remembers thee as one
Long loved and for a season gone;
For thee her poet's lyre is wreathed,
Her marble wrought, her music breathed;
For thee she rings the birthday bells;
Of thee her babes' first lisping tells;
For thine her evening prayer is said
At palace-couch and cottage-bed;
Her soldier, closing with the foe,
Gives for thy sake a deadlier blow;
His plighted maiden, when she fears
For him, the joy of her young years,
Thinks of thy fate and checks her tears;
And she, the mother of thy boys,
Though in her eye and faded cheek
Is read the grief she will not speak,
The memory of her buried joys,
And even she who gave thee birth,
Will, by their pilgrim-circled hearth,
Talk of 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.
For more inspirational poetry and stories, visit: