Charles Harpur

WORDS are deeds. The words we hear
May revolutionize or rear
A mighty state. The words we read
May be a spiritual deed
Excelling any fleshly one,
As much as the celestial sun
Transcends a bonfire, made to throw
A light upon some raree-show.
A simple proverb tagged with rhyme
May colour half the course of time;
The pregnant saying of a sage
May influence every coming age;
A song in its effects may be
More glorious than Thermopylae,
And many a lay that schoolboys scan
A nobler feat than Inkerman.

Raree-show—A peep-show; originally a “rarityshow,” usually of pictures carried about in a box.    [back]

Thermopylae—A narrow mountain pass in Greece which was the scene of a great battle in 480 B.C., where Leonidas at the head of 300 Spartans held the pass for three days against a large Persian army, until by treachery the Persians learned of a secret path over the mountain, and, attacking the Spartans in front and rear destroyed all but one of that gallant band.    [back]

Inkerman—A battle in the Crimean war, fought on the 5th November, 1854. The defeat of the Russians in this battle was mainly due to the British soldiers.    [back]

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