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Short poem

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)

Villanelle of Change

              1Since Persia fell at Marathon,
              2    The yellow years have gathered fast:
              3Long centuries have come and gone.

              4And yet (they say) the place will don
              5    A phantom fury of the past,
              6Since Persia fell at Marathon;

              7And as of old, when Helicon
              8    Trembled and swayed with rapture vast
              9(Long centuries have come and gone),

            10This ancient plain, when night comes on,
            11    Shakes to a ghostly battle-blast,
            12Since Persia fell at Marathon.

            13But into soundless Acheron
            14    The glory of Greek shame was cast:
            15Long centuries have come and gone,

            16The suns of Hellas have all shone,
            17    The first has fallen to the last:
            18Since Persia fell at Marathon,
            19Long centuries have come and gone.


1] Marathon: town on a plain in Attica north of Athens on the Aegean sea where Miltiades defeated the Persian army in 490 B.C.

7] Helicon: mountain in Greece near the Gulf of Corinth.

13] Acheron: river in Hades.

16] Hellas: Greece.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Collected Poems, with an introduction by John Drinkwater (London: Cecil Palmer, 1922): 80-81. PS 3535 O25A17 1922 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 25 November 1891
Publication date note: The Harvard Advocate (Nov. 25, 1891): 73.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/3

Form: villanelle

Other poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson