William Cullen Bryant

Song of the Greek Amazon

I buckle to my slender side
    The pistol and the scimitar,
And in my maiden flower and pride
    Am come to share the tasks of war.
And yonder stands my fiery steed,
    That paws the ground and neighs to go,
My charger of the Arab breed,—
    I took him from the routed foe.

My mirror is the mountain spring,
    At which I dress my ruffled hair;
My dimmed and dusty arms I bring,
    And wash away the blood-stain there.
Why should I guard from wind and sun
    This cheek, whose virgin rose is fled?
It was for one—oh, only one—
    I kept its bloom, and he is dead.

But they who slew him—unaware
    Of coward murderers lurking nigh—
And left him to the fowls of air,
    Are yet alive—and they must die.
They slew him—and my virgin years
    Are vowed to Greece and vengeance now,
And many an Othman dame, in tears,
    Shall rue the Grecian maiden's vow.

I touched the lute in better days,
    I led in dance the joyous band;
Ah! they may move to mirthful lays
    Whose hands can touch a lover's hand.
The march of hosts that haste to meet
    Seems gayer than the dance to me;
The lute's sweet tones are not so sweet
    As the fierce shout of victory.

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