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A sonnet after Simonides’s epitaph at Thermopylae

O stranger, should you ever chance to go
Down Spartan roads, and see my native land,
I pray you: take my father by the hand
And tell him I died bravely: he should know
That here, along this Phocian wall, my foe,
The long-haired Persian, I fought to a stand
Arrested only by the narrow land
That kept our numbers checked. The trumpets blow
Their dirges now: three hundred now below
The ground who once walked in the Sun. Our lives
As ransom for our children, parents, wives.
I pray you, stranger, let my people know:
Upon our shields, true Spartans here we lie;
That for their words were not afraid to die.

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