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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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A Midwinter Sonnet

The man who called midwinter “bleak”: remember
However far the Sun may flee away
And leave us, scrambling, blind, in dark December:
There never was a darkness without day.
The winter, and the night, were made for sleep
And God forbid I should disrupt that plan.
The cold; the snow; they draw me to the deep
And open-eyed accounting of a man.
This longest night; this term of hope delayed,
This deep midwinter solstice, leaves me weak
But still, I’ll face the darkness unafraid
For nothing hides the truth that I now speak:
We live; we grow; we die; we have no fear
That solstice’s darkness brings the spring more near.