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The Laurel-Seed
Richard Hengist Horne



A despot gazed on sun-set clouds,

Then sank to sleep amidst the gleam; ---

Forthwith, a myriad starving slaves

Must realize his lofty dream.

Year upon year, all night and day,

They toil'd, they died --- and were replaced;

At length a marble fabric rose,

With cloud-like domes and turrets graced.

No anguish of those herds of slaves

E'er shook one dome or wall asunder,

Nor wars of other mighty Kings,

Nor lustrous javelins of the thunder.


One sunny morn a lonely bird

Pass'd o'er, and dropt a laurel-seed;

The plant sprang up amidst the walls

Whose chinks were full of moss and weed.

The laurel tree grew large and strong,

Its roots went searching deeply down;

It split the marble walls of Wrong,

And blossom'd o'er the Despot's crown.

And in its boughs a nightingale

Sings to those world-forgotten graves;

And o'er its head a skylark's voice

Consoles the spirits of the slaves.


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