Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Χαίρετε, νικῶμεν

Unforeseeing one! Yes, he fought on the Marathon day:
So, when Persia was dust, all cried "To Akropolis!
Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!
'Athens is saved, thank Pan,' go shout!" He flung down his shield,
Ran like fire once more: and the space 'twixt the Fennel-field
And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,
Till in he broke: "Rejoice, we conquer!" Like wine through clay,
Joy in his blood bursting his heart, he died—the bliss!
-Robert Browning

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere
-William Wadsworth Longfellow

[Can someone (more talented than I) do a mash-up of these two poems?  My God the two poets were even contemporaries – within five years of each other – albeit an ocean apart.]

The human spirit is indomitable – that is the rallying cry of ancient Athens, of the running of the Marathon, of colonial Boston, and of America.  Not a cry of fear.  Rejoice! We conquer!
You cannot take our peace from us.
You cannot take our grace from us.
You cannot take our spirit,
not if we will not give it to you.
And we Will Not give it to you.

God weeps at the death of any of us.  God weeps at the death of a child.  God weeps at the chaos and fear in Boston.  God weeps for the fifteen Sunnis assassinated in Iraq.  God weeps for those swallowed by the earthquake in Iran.
God weeps, and we weep.
But we do not despair.  

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." -Matthew 5:9
"Repel evil with good.  And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend." -Surah 41:34
"Let there be peace in Heaven; let there be peace in the atmosphere; May peace fill the four quarters" -Yajur Veda

We fling down our shield, run, ride, cry out.  A cry of defiance, a knock at the door, a word that shall echo forevermore – Χαίρετε, νικῶμεν.!