Dion

Original Text: 
William Wordsworth, The River Duddon, A Series of Sonnets; Vaudracour and Julia; and Other Poems (1820).
See Plutarch.
1  Serene, and fitted to embrace,
2Where'er he turned, a swan-like grace
3Of haughtiness without pretence,
4And to unfold a still magnificence,
5Was princely Dion, in the power
6And beauty of his happier hour.
7And what pure homage then did wait
8On Dion's virtues, while the lunar beam
9Of Plato's genius, from its lofty sphere,
10Fell round him in the grove of Academe,
11Softening their inbred dignity austere--
12    That he, not too elate
13    With self-sufficing solitude,
14But with majestic lowliness endued,
15Might in the universal bosom reign,
16And from affectionate observance gain
17Help, under every change of adverse fate.
18  Five thousand warriors--O the rapturous day!
19Each crowned with flowers, and armed with spear and shield,
20Or ruder weapon which their course might yield,
21To Syracuse advance in bright array.
22Who leads them on?--The anxious people see
23Long-exiled Dion marching at their head,
24He also crowned with flowers of Sicily,
25And in a white, far-beaming, corslet clad!
26Pure transport undisturbed by doubt or fear
27The gazers feel; and, rushing to the plain,
28Salute those strangers as a holy train
29Or blest procession (to the Immortals dear)
30That brought their precious liberty again.
31Lo! when the gates are entered, on each hand,
32Down the long street, rich goblets filled with wine
33    In seemly order stand,
34On tables set, as if for rites divine;--
35And, as the great Deliverer marches by,
36He looks on festal ground with fruits bestrown;
37And flowers are on his person thrown
38    In boundless prodigality;
39Nor doth the general voice abstain from prayer,
40Invoking Dion's tutelary care,
41As if a very Deity he were!
42  Mourn, hills and groves of Attica! and mourn,
43Ilissus, bending o'er thy classic urn!
44Mourn, and lament for him whose spirit dreads
45Your once sweet memory, studious walks and shades!
46For him who to divinity aspired,
47Not on the breath of popular applause,
48But through dependence on the sacred laws
49Framed in the schools where Wisdom dwelt retired,
50Intent to trace the ideal path of right
51(More fair than heaven's broad causeway paved with stars)
52Which Dion learned to measure with sublime delight;--
53But He hath overleaped the eternal bars;
54And, following guides whose craft holds no consent
55With aught that breathes the ethereal element,
56Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood,
57Unjustly shed, though for the public good.
58Whence doubts that came too late, and wishes vain,
59Hollow excuses, and triumphant pain;
60And oft his cogitations sink as low
61As, through the abysses of a joyless heart,
62The heaviest plummet of despair can go--
63But whence that sudden check? that fearful start!
64    He hears an uncouth sound--
65    Anon his lifted eyes
66Saw, at a long-drawn gallery's dusky bound,
67A Shape of more than mortal size
68And hideous aspect, stalking round and round!
69    A woman's garb the Phantom wore,
70    And fiercely swept the marble floor,--
71    Like Auster whirling to and fro,
72    His force on Caspian foam to try;
73Or Boreas when he scours the snow
74That skims the plains of Thessaly,
75Or when aloft on Mænalus he stops
76His flight, 'mid eddying pine-tree tops!
77  So, but from toil less sign of profit reaping,
78The sullen Spectre to her purpose bowed,
79Sweeping--vehemently sweeping--
80No pause admitted, no design avowed!
81"Avaunt, inexplicable Guest!--avaunt,"
82Exclaimed the Chieftain--"let me rather see
83The coronal that coiling vipers make;
84The torch that flames with many a lurid flake,
85And the long train of doleful pageantry
86Which they behold, whom vengeful Furies haunt;
87Who, while they struggle from the scourge to flee,
88Move where the blasted soil is not unworn,
89And, in their anguish, bear what other minds have borne!"
90  But Shapes, that come not at an earthly call,
91Will not depart when mortal voices bid;
92Lords of the visionary eye whose lid,
93Once raised, remains aghast, and will not fall!
94Ye Gods, thought He, that servile Implement
95    Obeys a mystical intent!
96Your Minister would brush away
97The spots that to my soul adhere;
98But should she labour night and day,
99They will not, cannot disappear;
100Whence angry perturbations,--and that look
101Which no philosophy can brook!
102  Ill-fated Chief! there are whose hopes are built
103Upon the ruins of thy glorious name;
104Who, through the portal of one moment's guilt,
105Pursue thee with their deadly aim!
106O matchless perfidy! portentous lust
107Of monstrous crime!--that horror-striking blade,
108Drawn in defiance of the Gods, hath laid
109The noble Syracusan low in dust!
110Shudder'd the walls--the marble city wept--
111And sylvan places heaved a pensive sigh;
112But in calm peace the appointed Victim slept,
113As he had fallen in magnanimity;
114Of spirit too capacious to require
115That Destiny her course should change; too just
116To his own native greatness to desire
117That wretched boon, days lengthened by mistrust.
118So were the hopeless troubles, that involved
119The soul of Dion, instantly dissolved.
120Released from life and cares of princely state,
121He left this moral grafted on his Fate;
122"Him only pleasure leads, and peace attends,
123Him, only him, the shield of Jove defends,
124Whose means are fair and spotless as his ends."
Publication Start Year: 
1820
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP 2.79.