O Muse, awake the Olympic Lay,
Which to Archestratus' brave Son we owe;
The meed I promis'd to bestow,
Oblivion's icy hand had wip'd away:
And thou, O Truth, the favorite Maid
Of thundering Jove, vouchsafe thy aid
To quell their slanderous falshoods, who pretend
I e'er with wilful aim deceiv'd a trusting Friend.

Full many an hour has roll'd away
Since shame has made my cheeks with crimson glow,
So long the promis'd meed to owe:
But now the song, with interest, I'll repay;
And, as where Ocean's billows roar,
They clear from stain the pebbled shore,
So shall the breath of this my friendly strain,
To listening crouds assert my spotless faith again.

Where, gently fann'd by Zephyr's balmy breeze,
Fair Truth o'er Locris' colony presides;
Her Guardian, sweet Calliope, she sees,
While warlike Mars the generous care divides.—
Bold Cycnus, in the hard-fought field,
Forced Hercules at first to yield;
Agesidamus, so thy might
Was wavering in the Olympic fight,
Till, as Achilles' friendly tongue
Patroclus' fainting limbs new strung;
Brave Ilas' words thy drooping spirits fire,
Thy slumbering virtues rouse, and god-like deeds inspire.

When Emulation warms the breast,
The Youth (Heaven aiding) matchless Fame shall gain;
But few the envied Prize obtain
By slothful luxury and lazy rest.
Now custom bids my Muse proclaim
Jove's Festival and solemn Game,
With which Alcides honor'd Pelops' Shrine,
When Neptune's baffled sons confess'd his power divine.

When his triumphant arm had laid,
O blameless Cteatus! thy glory low;
And bold Eurytas felt the blow,
O'ercome by stratagem in Cleon's glade;
From proud Augeas to obtain
The promis'd meed of toil and pain;
And wreak on Molion's sons the fatal day,
When stretch'd on Elis' plains his slaughter'd army lay.

Soon did the faithless King his fraud repay,
He saw his country's fairest hopes expire;
Saw his exulting cities fall a prey
To vengeful slaughter, and consuming fire;
Saw desolation's iron reign
Extend o'er all his fair domain—
Vain are the endeavours to withstand
The vengeance of a mightier hand;
Awhile he rashly tried to oppose
The forceful entry of his shouting foes;
Till, seeing fell destruction round him wait,
He sought amid the press, a voluntary fate.

On Pisa's plains the son of Jove
Assembled, with their spoils, his conquering band;
And bade for ever sacred stand
To his eternal Sire this hallow'd grove:
Bade sacred fences straight surround
The Altis' consecrated ground;
Whilst round, the festive seats with splendor gleam,
And crown the verdant brink of Alpheus' honored stream.

Alpheus, who, with the imperial train
Of high Olympus, shares the sacrifice;
Where the Saturnian summits rise,
With site conspicuous from the trophied plain:—
There, erst when Oenomaus sway'd,
In snow was wrapp'd the unnoticed glade.
On the first rites propitious smil'd the Fates;
And Time, on whom even Truth for confirmation waits:

He, rolling on with never-ceasing course,
To the succeeding race of men declares,
How the rich spoils of war's resistless force,
The godlike Hero 'midst his army shares;
And bids the festive games still chear
Again each fifth revolving year.—
Who in the contests, now ordain'd,
The first Olympic wreath obtain'd?
Whose coursers in the rattling car,
Or limbs exerted in the sportive war,
Or feet inur'd to urge the rapid race,
Snatch'd from their baffled foes the matchless olive's grace?

On the long Stadium's even course,
Oeonus, great Licymnius' valiant son,
The Prize with active footsteps won,
Who brought from Midia's plains his friendly force:
Resplendent with the wrestler's oil,
Fair Victory crown'd the Tegean's toil:
While brave Doryclus, from Tirynthe's shore,
The Cæstus' manly prize from all his rivals bore.

Conspicuous on his conquering car,
The Muse Mantinian Semus' Coursers sings;
Phrastor the unerring javelin flings;
While, by Eniceus' sinews hurl'd, afar
Beyond the rest the Discus flies.—
Resound the shores with friendly cries;
While lovely Luna pours her argent light
Full-orb'd, and chears with rays the gloomy shades of night.

The echoing woods, and vaulted temples round,
Ring with the jocund shouts, and festive strain.
Following their great example, we resound
Their glories who the Olympic Olive gain:
And in the far-resounding verse
The manly Victor's praise rehearse,
And tune the Hymn to awful Jove;
Who, 'mid the sapphire plains above,
Bids the bright-gleaming lightning fly,
And darts the thunder thro' the trembling sky.
Breath'd to soft flutes sweet sounds the lingering lay,
Which, form'd on Dirce's brink, though long deferr'd, we pay.

As grateful comes the long-hop'd air;
As to the expecting sire whom age and pain
To second childhood bend again,
The happy offspring of a legal heir:
The joyful tidings straight impart
New vigor to his sinking heart;
For wealth itself the dying breast offends,
When to a stranger's hand the envied gift descends.

So he who at dread Pluto's gate
Arrives unsung;—though worth and fair renown
His every word and action crown,
What shining honor shall that worth await?
Thy ears, the lyre, and dulcet flute,
Agesidamus! shall salute;
O'er thy fair fame distil mellifluous lays,
And all Pieria's Choir afford thee ample praise.

And on his country too we must bestow
The faithful tribute of a votive verse;
On Locris' race the honied stream shall flow,
While their victorious son my lays rehearse;
Whom, by Olympia's awful shrine,
My eyes beheld, with strength divine,
In the stern conflict bear away
The envied trohpies of the day.
Lovely his form, while youth's soft grace
Shed smiling beauty o'er his face;
Youth's bloom divine, which, join'd to potent Love,
The ruthless arm of Death from Ganymedes drove.

More verses by Henry James Pye