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The Olympic Games.

An Ode by
GEORGE STUART ROBERTSON.
Translated by E. D. A. Morshead.

Up, my song!
An alien crowd we come
To this Athenian home —
Yet not like Persian plunderers of old,
But in frank love and generous friendship bold!

I too who sing hereof,
I too in strenuous sport, with sons of Hellas strove.
“All hail!” we cry, “All hail!”
Fair mother of the Arts! O violet-crowned
Home of Athena! Glory’s sacred ground!
Onward in love of thee, we spread our eager sail!

Up, comrades! let your voices raise
The flower of song, the blossom of her praise —
And, as we fleet across a halcyon sea,
May the god gently waft our song to thee!
Love-smitten for the Maid, the loveliest birth
That Heaven e’re gave to earth,
We come, her grace to gain,
Ploughing with pinnace fair the bright auspicious main!

O mother Athens! ever from old time
The homeless wanderer found a home with thee —
Bear witness Agamemnon’s son, thy guest.
Whom awful Furies drove o’er land and sea
In stern requital of his glorious crime,
Till Athens gave him rest!
Now unto us, O land of fame divine,
Stretch forth thy hand in welcome! from afar,
Let glory of the strife that is not war
Commend us to thy shrine!

Lo, from the wide world manifold we come —
From England’s hearths and homes draw hither some,
Children of sires who, in the days gone by,
Warred for thy liberty,
Warred by the poet’s side,
The Muses’ child, who in Astolia died!
And other some from gallant France draw nigh,
Lords of the peaceful strife, with thee to vie;
And some from German forests, strong and bold,
Or where Hungarian cornlands wave their gold!
And some through Western Ocean cleave their way —
And fleet of foot are they!

Once long ago, when Peleus to his side
Drew Thetis as a bride —
Came gods and heroes to the palace hall,
For that high festival.
To-day, O happy Hellas, see him stand,
Thy king, the nursing father of thy land.
Brother of one right dear to England’s heart and mine.
See from the north draw nigh
A star of Muscovy!

See how, once more, from hills afar
Not now with arms and war,
An Elander comes, of royal line —
Quitting his land for thine!

Athens, all hail! Hail, O rejoicing throng!
And from our lips receive the tributary song.

— Athens, 1896.


George Stuart Robertson recited this ode in Greek at the close of the 1896 Olympic Games in the presence of the Greek Royal Family. It was translated by Edmund Doidge Anderson Morshead, a classicist (Winchester, Oxford) widely known for his translations of Aeschylus and the formulator of “Mushri”, a personal idiolect. The Ode was subsequently reproduced in The Cruise of the Branwen: Being a Short History of the Modern Revival of the Olympic Games, Together with an Account of the Adventures of the English Fencing Team in Athens by Sir Theodore Andrea Cook, an English journalist, critic and celebrated fencer.

G.S. Robertson’s account of the 1896 Olympics, written for the Fortnightly, appears here. The Greek version of the Ode is here.

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