Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant

THERMOPYLÆ.

'TWAS an hour of fearful issues,
When the bold three hundred stood
For their love of holy freedom,
By that old Thessalian flood:
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When, lifting high each sword of flame,
They call'd on ev'ry sacred name,
And swore, beside those dashing waves,
They never, never would be slaves!
And oh! that oath was nobly kept,
From morn to setting sun,
Did desperation urge the fight
Which valour had begun;
Till, torrent-like, the stream of blood
Ran down and mingled with the flood,
And all, from mountain cliff to wave,
Was Freedom's, Valour's, Glory's grave.
Oh, yes, that oath was nobly kept,
Which nobly had been sworn,
And proudly did each gallant heart
The foeman's fetters spurn;
And firmly was the fight maintain'd,
And amply was the triumph gain'd;
They fought, fair Liberty, for thee:
They fell—TO DIE IS TO BE FREE.