On Seeing the Elgin Marbles
My spirit is too weak -- mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship, tells me I must die
Like a sick Eagle looking at the sky.
Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning's eye.
Such dim-conceivéd glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an indescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time -- with a billowy main --
A sun -- a shadow of a magnitude.
Verses by Roger Casement
Give back the Elgin marbles, let them lie
Unsullied, pure beneath the Attic sky
The smoky fingers of our northern clime
More ruin work than all ancient time.
How oft' the roar of the Piraean Sea
Through column'd hall and dusky temple stealing
Hath struck these marble ears, that now must flee
The whirling hum of London, noonward reeling.
Ah! let them hear again the sounds that float
Around Athene's shrine on morning's breeze --
The lowing ox, the bell of climbing goat
And drowsy drone of far Hymettus' breeze.
Give back the marbles; let them vigil keep
Where art still lies, over Pheidias' tomb, asleep.
Roger Casement was an Irish revolutionary
who was hanged
by the British during the First World War.
from a speech
delivered by Alexander Rangavis
at the meeting of the Greek
Archaeological Society on May 12
1842, in front of the eastern
pediment of the Parthenon
"What would Europe say, atremble,
if one should find a drawing by
Raphael or Apelles and, unable to
carry it all away, should cut off the
legs or the head of that work of art:
If England, the friend of valiant
deeds, cannot carry this entire
temple to her soil and, with it, the
deep blue sky under which this all
white monument stands, and cannot
carry the transparent air which
bathes the temple and the brilliant
sun that gilds it -- if England cannot
carry all those things to her far-northern
climate then, just as kings and
commoners formerly sent humble tokens
of worship to the Parthenon and the
Acropolis, so should England send us,
as a token of reverence to the cradle
of civilisation, the temple's jewels which
were snatched from it and lie now, far
away and of little value, while the
temple itself remains truncated and formless."