George Gordon Byron[Lord Byron] (22 January 1788 - 19 April 1824 / London, England)
Bright Be The Place Of Thy Soul!
- by George Gordon Byron96
Bright be the place of thy soul! No lovelier spirit than thine E'er burst from its mortal control In the orbs of the blessed to shine.
On earth thou wert all but divine, As thy soul shall immortally be; And our sorrow may cease to repine, When we know that thy God is with thee.
Light be the turf of thy tomb! May its verdure like emeralds be: There should not be the shadow of gloom In aught that reminds us of thee.
Young flowers and an evergreen tree May spring from the spot of thy rest: But nor cypress nor yew let us see; For why should we mourn for the blest?
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: A Romaunt. Canto IV.
- by George Gordon Byron90
I. I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs; A palace and a prison on each hand: I saw from out the wave her structures rise As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand: A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles O'er the far times, when many a subject land Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles, Where Venice sate in state, thron'd on her hundred isles!
II. She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean, Rising with her tiara of proud towers At airy distance, with majestic motion, A ruler of the waters and their powers: And such she was; her daughters had their dowers From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East Pour'd in her lap all gems in sparkling showers. In purple was she rob'd, and of her feast Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increas'd.
III. In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more, And silent rows the songless gondolier; Her palaces are crumbling to the shore, And music meets not always now the ear: Those days are gone -- but Beauty still is here. States fall, arts fade -- but Nature doth not die, Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear, The pleasant place of all festivity, The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!
IV. But unto us she hath a spell beyond Her name in story, and her long array Of mighty shadows, whose dim forms despond Above the dogeless city's vanish'd sway; Ours is a trophy which will not decay With the Rialto; Shylock and the Moor, And Pierre, cannot be swept or worn away -- The keystones of the arch! though all were o'er, For us repeopl'd were the solitary shore.
V. The beings of the mind are not of clay; Essentially immortal, they create And multiply in us a brighter ray And more belov'd existence: that which Fate Prohibits to dull life, in this our state Of mortal bondage, by these spirits supplied, First exiles, then replaces what we hate; Watering the heart whose early flowers have died, And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.
VI. Such is the refuge of our youth and age, The first from Hope, the last from Vacancy; And this worn feeling peoples many a page, And, maybe, that which grows beneath mine eye: Yet there are things whose strong reality Outshines our fairy-land; in shape and hues More beautiful than our fantastic sky, And the strange constellations which the Muse O'er her wild universe is skilful to diffuse:
VII. I saw or dream'd of such -- but let them go; They came like truth -- and disappear'd like dreams; And whatsoe'er they were -- are now but so: I could replace them if I would; still teems My mind with many a form which aptly seems Such as I sought for, and at moments found; Let these too go -- for waking Reason deems Such overweening fantasies unsound, And other voices speak, and other sights surround.
VIII. I've taught me other tongues, and in strange eyes Have made me not a stranger; to the mind Which is itself, no changes bring surprise; Nor is it harsh to make, nor hard to find A country with -- ay, or without mankind; Yet was I born where men are proud to be -- Not without cause; and should I leave behind The inviolate island of the sage and free, And seek me out a home by a remoter sea,
IX. Perhaps I lov'd it well: and should I lay My ashes in a soil which is not mine, My spirit shall resume it -- if we may Unbodied choose a sanctuary. I twine My hopes of being remember'd in my line With my land's language: if too fond and far These aspirations in their scope incline, If my fame should be, as my fortunes are, Of hasty growth and blight, and dull Oblivion bar
X. My name from out the temple where the dead Are honour'd by the nations -- let it be -- And light the laurels on a loftier head! And be the Spartan's epitaph on me -- 'Sparta hath many a worthier son than he.' Meantime I seek no sympathies, nor need; The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree I planted: they have torn me, and I bleed: I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.
XI. The spouseless Adriatic mourns her lord; And annual marriage now no more renew'd, The Bucentaur lies rotting unrestored, Neglected garment of her widowhood! St. Mark yet sees his lion where he stood Stand, but in mockery of his wither'd power, Over he proud Place where an Emperor sued, And monarchs gaz'd and envied in the hour When Venice was a queen with an unequall'd dower.
XII. The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns -- An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt; Kingdoms are shrunk to provinces, and chains Clank over sceptred cities, nations melt From power's high pinnacle, when they have felt The sunshine for a while, and downward go Like Lauwine loosen'd from the mountain's belt; Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo! Th' octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe!
XIII. Before St. Mark still glow his steeds of brass, Their gilded collars glittering in the sun; But is not Doria's menace come to pass? Are they not bridled? -- Venice, lost and won, Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done, Sinks, like a sea-weed, into whence she rose! Better be whelm'd beneath the waves, and shun, Even in destruction's depth, her foreign foes, From whom submission wrings an infamous repose.
XIV. In youth she was all glory, a new Tyre, Her very by-word sprung from victory, The 'Planter of the Lion,' which through fire And blood she bore o'er subject earth and sea; Though making many slaves, herself still free, And Europe's bulwark 'gainst the Ottomite; Witness Troy's rival, Candia! Vouch it, ye Immortal waves that saw Lepanto's fight! For ye are names no time nor tyranny can blight.
XV. Statues of glass -- all shiver'd -- the long file Of her dead Doges are declin'd to dust; But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous pile Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust; Their sceptre broken, and their sword in rust, Have yielded to the stranger: empty halls, Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must Too oft remind her who and what enthralls, Have flung a desolate cloud o'er Venice' lovely walls.
XVI. When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse, And fetter'd thousands bore the yoke of war, Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse, Her voice their only ransom from afar: See! as they chant the tragic hymn, the car Of the o'ermaster'd victor stops, the reins Fall from his hands -- his idle scimitar Starts from its belt -- he rends his captive's chains, And bids him thank the bard for freedom and his strains.
XVII. Thus, Venice! if no stronger claim were thine, Were all thy proud historic deeds forgot, Thy choral memory of the Bard divine, Thy love of Tasso, should have cut the knot Which ties thee to thy tyrants; and thy lot Is shameful to the nations -- most of all, Albion, to thee: the Ocean queen should not Abandon Ocean's children; in the fall Of Venice think of thine, despite thy watery wall.
XVIII. I loved her from my boyhood; she to me Was as a fairy city of the heart, Rising like water-columns from the sea, Of joy the sojourn, and of wealth the mart; And Otway, Radcliffe, Schiller, Shakespeare's art, Had stamp'd her image in me, and even so, Although I found her thus, we did not part; Perchance even dearer in her day of woe, Than when she was a boast, a marvel, and a show.
XIX. I can repeople with the past -- and of The present there is still for eye and thought, And meditation chasten'd down, enough; And more, it may be, than I hoped or sought; And of the happiest moments which were wrought Within the web of my existence, some From thee, fair Venice! have their colours caught: There are some feelings Time cannot benumb, Nor Torture shake, or mine would now be cold and dumb.
XX. But from their nature will the Tannen grow Loftiest on loftiest and least shelter'd rocks, Rooted in barrenness, where nought below Of soil supports them 'gainst the Alpine shocks Of eddying storms; yet springs the trunk, and mocks The howling tempest, till its height and frame Are worthy of the mountains from whose blocks Of bleak, gray granite into life it came, And grew a giant tree; -- the mind may grow the same.
XXI Existence may be borne, and the deep root Of life and sufferance make its firm abode The bare and desolated bosoms: mute The camel labours with the heaviest load, And the wolf dies in silence, -- not bestow'd In vain should such example be; if they, Things of ignoble or of savage mood, Endure and shrink not, we of nobler clay May temper it to bear, -- it is but for a day.
XXII All suffering doth destroy, or is destroy'd, Even by the sufferer; and, in each event, Ends: -- Some, with hope replenish'd and rebuoy'd, Return to whence they came -- with like intent, And weave their web again; some, bow'd and bent, Wax gray and ghastly, withering ere their time, And perish with the reed on which they leant; Some seek devotion, toil, war, good or crime, According as their souls were form'd to sink or climb.
XXIII But ever and anon of griefs subdued There comes a token like a scorpion's sting, Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued; And slight withal may be the things which bring Back on the heart the weight which it would fling Aside for ever: it may be a sound -- A tone of music -- summer's eve -- or spring -- A flower -- the wind -- the ocean -- which shall wound, Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound;
XXIV And how and why we know not, nor can trace Home to its cloud this lightning of the mind, But feel the shock renew'd, nor can efface The blight and blackening which it leaves behind, Which out of things familiar, undesign'd, When least we deem of such, calls up to view The spectres whom no exorcism can bind, -- The cold, the changed, perchance the dead -- anew, The mourn'd, the loved, the lost -- too many! yet how few!
XXV But my soul wanders: I demand it back To meditate amongst decay, and stand A ruin amidst ruins; there to track Fall'n states and buried greatness, o'er a land Which was the mightiest in its old command, And is the loveliest, and must ever be The master mould of Nature's heavenly hand; Wherein were cast the heroic and the free, The beautiful, the brave, the lords of earth and sea,
XXVI The commonwealth of kings, the men of Rome! And even since, and now, fair Italy! Thou art the garden of the world, the home Of all Art yields, and Nature can decree; Even in thy desert, what is like to thee? Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste More rich than other climes' fertility; Thy wreck a glory, and thy ruin graced With an immaculate charm which cannot be defaced.
XXVII The moon is up, and yet it is not night; Sunset divides the sky with her; a sea Of glory streams along the Alpine height Of blue Friuli's mountains; Heaven is free From clouds, but of all colours seems to be, -- Melted to one vast Iris of the West, -- Where the Day joins the past Eternity, While, on the other hand, meek Dian's crest Floats through the azure air -- an island of the blest!
XXVIII A single star is at her side, and reigns With her o'er half the lovely heaven; but still Yon sunny sea heaves brightly, and remains Roll'd o'er the peak of the far Rh?tian hill, As Day and Night contending were, until Nature reclaim'd her order: -- gently flows The deep-dyed Brenta, where their hues instil The odorous purple of a new-born rose, Which streams upon her stream, and glass'd within it glows,
XXIX Fill'd with the face of heaven, which, from afar, Comes down upon the waters; all its hues, From the rich sunset to the rising star, Their magical variety diffuse: And now they change; a paler shadow strews Its mantle o'er the mountains; parting day Dies like the dolphin, whom each pang imbues With a new colour as it gasps away -- The last still loveliest, -- till -- 'tis gone -- and all is gray.
XXX There is a tomb at Arqua; -- rear'd in air, Pillar'd in their sarcophagus, repose The bones of Laura's lover: here repair Many familiar with his well-sung woes, The pilgrims of his genius. He arose To raise a language, and his land reclaim From the dull yoke of her barbaric foes: Watering the tree which bears his lady's name With his melodious tears, he gave himself to fame.
XXXI They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died; The mountain-village where his latter days Went down the vale of years; and 'tis their pride -- An honest pride -- and let it be their praise, To offer to the passing stranger's gaze His mansion and his sepulchre; both plain And venerably simple, such as raise A feeling more accordant with his train Than if a pyramid form'd his monumental fane.
XXXII And the soft quiet hamlet where he dwelt Is one of that complexion which seems made For those who their mortality have felt, And sought a refuge from their hopes decay'd In the deep umbrage of a green hill's shade, Which shows a distant prospect far away Of busy cities, now in vain display'd, For they can lure no further; and the ray Of a bright sun can make sufficient holiday,
XXXIII Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers, And shining in the brawling brook, whereby, Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours With a calm languor, which, though to the eye Idlesse it seem, hath its mortality. If from society we learn to live, 'Tis solitude should teach us how to die; It hath no flatters; vanity can give No hollow aid; alone -- man with his God must strive:
XXXIV Or, it may be, with demons, who impair The strength of better thoughts, and seek their prey In melancholy bosoms, such as were Of moody texture, from their earliest day, And loved to dwell in darkness and dismay, Deeming themselves predestined to a doom Which is not of the pangs that pass away; Making the sun like blood, the earth a tomb, The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom.
XXXV Ferrara! in thy wide and grass-grown streets, Whose symmetry was not for solitude, There seems as 'twere a curse upon the seats Of former sovereigns, and the antique brood Of Este, which for many an age made good Its strength within thy walls, ad was of yore Patron or tyrant, as the changing mood Of petty power impell'd, of those who wore The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn before.
XXXVI And Tasso is their glory and their shame. Hark to his strain! and then survey his cell! And see how dearly earn'd Torquato's fame, And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell: The miserable despot could not quell The insulted mind he sought to quench, and blend With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell Where he had plunged it. Glory without end Scatter'd the clouds away; and on that name attend
XXXVII The tears and praises of all time; while thine Would rot in its oblivion -- in the sink Of worthless dust, which from thy boasted line Is shaken into nothing -- but the link Thou formest in his fortunes bids us think Of thy poor malice, naming thee with scorn: Alfonso! how thy ducal pageants shrink From thee! if in another station born, Scarce fit to be the slave of him thou madest to mourn:
XXXVIII Thou! form'd to eat, and be despised, and die, Even as the beasts that perish, save that thou Hadst a more splendid trough and wider sty: He! with a glory round his furrow'd brow, Which emanated then, and dazzles now, In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire, And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow No strain which shamed his country's creaking lyre, That whetstone of the teeth -- monotony in wire!
XXXIX Peace to Torquato's injured shade! twas his In life and death to be the mark where Wrong Aim'd with her poison'd arrows, but to miss. O, victor unsurpass'd in modern song! Each year brings forth its millions; but how long The tide of generations shall roll on, And not the whole combined and countless throng Compose a mind like thine? though all in one Condensed their scatter'd rays, they would not form a sun.
XL Great as thou art, yet parallel'd by those, Thy countrymen, before thee born to shine, The Bards of Hell and Chivalry: first rose The Tuscan father's Comedy Divine; Then, not unequal to the Florentine, The southern Scott, the minstrel who call'd forth A new creation with his magic line, And, like the Ariosto of the North, Sang ladye-love and war, romance and knightly worth.
XLI The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust The iron crown of laurel's mimick'd leaves; Nor was the ominous element unjust For the true laurel-wreath which Glory weaves Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves, And the false semblance but disgraced his brow; Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves, Know, that the lightning sanctifies below Whate'er it strikes; -- yon head is doubly sacred now.
XLII Italia! oh Italia! thou who hast The fatal gift of beauty, which became A funeral dower of present woes and past, On thy sweet brow is sorrow plough'd by shame, And annals graved in characters of flame. Oh, God! that thou wert in thy nakedness Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress;
XLIII Then might'st thou more appal; or, less desired, Be homely and be peaceful, undeplored For thy destructive charms; then, still untired, Would not be seen the armed torrents pour'd Down the deep Alps; nor would the hostile horde Of many-nation'd spoilers from the Po Quaff blood and water; nor the stranger's sword Be thy sad weapon of defence, and so, Victor or vanquish'd, thou the slave of friend or foe.
XLIV Wandering in youth, I traced the path of him, The Roman friend of Rome's least-mortal mind, The friend of Tully: as my bark did skim The bright blue waters with a fanning wind, Came Megara before me, and behind ?gina lay, Pir?us on the right, And Corinth on the left; I lay reclined Along the prow, and saw all these unite In ruin, even as he had seen the desolate sight;
XLV For Time hath not rebuilt them, but uprear'd Barbaric dwellings on their shatter'd site, Which only make more mourn'd and more endear'd The few last rays of their far-scatter'd light, And the crush'd relics of their vanish'd might. The Roman saw these tombs in his own age, These sepulchres of cities, which excite Sad wonder, and his yet surviving page The moral lesson bears, drawn from such pilgrimage.
XLVI That page is now before me, and on mine His country's ruin added to the mass Of perish'd states he mourn'd in their decline, And I in desolation: all that was Of then destruction is; and now, alas! Rome -- Rome imperial, bows her to the storm, In the same dust and blackness, and we pass The skeleton of her Titanic form, Wrecks of another world, whose ashes still are warm.
XLVII Yet, Italy! through every other land Thy wrongs should ring, and shall, from side to side; Mother of Arts! as once of arms; thy hand Was then our guardian, and is still our guide; Parent of our religion! whom the wide Nations have knelt to for the keys of heaven! Europe, repentent of her parricide, Shall yet redeem thee, and, all backward driven, Roll the barbarian tide, and sue to be forgiven.
XLVIII But Arno wins us to the fair white walls, Where the Etrurian Athens claims and keeps A softer feeling for her fairy halls. Girt by her theatre of hills, she reaps Her corn, and wine, and oil, and Plenty leaps To laughing life, with her redundant horn. Along the banks where smiling Arno sweeps Was modern Luxury of Commerce born, And buried Learning rose, redeem'd to new morn.
XLIX There, too, the Goddess loves in stone, and fills The air around with beauty; we inhale The ambrosial aspect, which, beheld, instils Part of its immortality; the veil Of heaven is half undrawn; within the pale We stand, and in that form and face behold What Mind can make, when Nature's self would fail; And to the fond idolators of old Envy the innate flash which such a soul could mould:
L We gaze and turn away, and know not where, Dazzled and drunk with beauty, till the heart Reels with its fulness; there -- for ever there -- Chain'd to the chariot of triumphal Art, We stand as captives, and would not depart. Away! -- there needs no words nor terms precise, The paltry jargon of the marble mart, Where Pedantry gulls Folly -- we have eyes: Blood, pulse, and breast confirm the Dardan Shepherd's prize.
LI Appear'dst thou not to Paris in this guise? Or to more deeply blest Anchises? or, In all thy perfect Goddess-ship, when lies Before thee thy own vanquish'd Lord of War? And gazing in thy face as toward a star, Laid on thy lap, his eyes to thee upturn, Feeding on thy sweet cheek! while thy lips are With lava kisses melting while they burn, Shower'd on his eyelids, brow, and mouth, as from an urn?
LII Glowing, and circumfused in speechless love Their full divinity inadequate That feeling to express, or to improve, The gods become as mortals, and man's fate Has moments like their brightest; but the weight Of earth recoils upon us; -- let it go! We can recall such visions, and create, From what has been, or might be, things which grow Into thy statue's form, and look like gods below.
LIII I leave to learned fingers and wise hands, The artist and his ape, to teach and tell How well his connoisseurship understands The graceful bend, and the voluptuous swell: Let these describe the undescribable: I would not their vile breath should crisp the stream Wherein that image shall for ever dwell; The unruffled mirror of the loveliest dream That ever left the sky on the deep soul to beam.
LIV In Santa Croce's holy precincts lie Ashes which make it holier, dust which is Even in itself an immortality, Though there were nothing save the past, and this, The particle of those sublimities Which have relapsed to chaos: here repose Angelo's, Alfieri's bones, and his, The starry Galileo, with his woes; Here Machiavelli's earth return'd to whence it rose.
LV These are four minds, which, like the elements, Might furnish forth creation: -- Italy! Time, which hath wrong'd thee with ten thousand rents Of thine imperal garment, shall deny, And hath denied, to every other sky, Spirits which soar from ruin: thy decay Is still impregnate with divinity, Which gilds it with revivifying ray; Such as the great of yore, Canova is today.
LVI But where repose the all Etruscan three -- Dante, and Petrarch, and, scarce less thatn they, The Bard of Prose, creative spirit! he Of the Hundred Tales of love -- where did they lay Their bones, distinguish'd from our common clay In death as life? Are they resolved to dust, And have their country's marbles nought to say? Could not her quarries furnish forth one bust? Did they not to her breast their filial earth entrust?
LVII Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar, Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore: Thy factions, in their worse than civil war, Proscribed the bard whose name forevermore Their children's children would in vain adore With the remorse of ages; and the crown Which Petrarch's laureate brow supremely wore, Upon a far and foreign soil had grown, His life, his fame, his grave, though rifled -- not thine own.
LVIII Boccaccio to his parent earth bequeath'd His dust, -- and lies it not her great among, With many a sweet and solemn requiem breathed O'er him who form'd the Tuscan's siren tongue? That music in itself, whose sounds are song, The poetry of speech? No; -- even his tomb Uptorn, must bear the hy?na bigot's wrong, No more amidst the meaner dead find room, Nor claim a passing sigh, because it told for whom!
LIX And Santa Croce wants their mighty dust; Yet for this want more noted, as of yore The C?sar's pageant, shorn of Brutus' bust, Did but of Rome's best Son remind her more: Happier Ravenna! on thy hoary shore, Fortress of falling empire! honour'd sleeps The immortal exile; -- Arqua, too her store Of tuneful relics proudly claims and keeps, While Florence vainly begs her banish'd dead and weeps.
LX What is her pyramid of precious stones? Of porphyry, jasper, agate, and all hues Of gem and marble, to encrust the bones Of merchant-dukes? the momentary dews Which, sparkling to the twilight stars, infuse Freshness in the green turf that wraps the dead, Whose names are mausoleums of the Muse, Are gently prest with far more reverent tread Than ever paced the slab which paves the princely head.
LXI There be more things to greet the heart and eyes In Arno's dome of Art's most princely shrine, Where Sculpture with her rainbow sister vies; There be more marvels yet -- but not for mine; For I have been accustom'd to entwine My thoughts with Nature rather in the fields, Than Art in galleries; though a work divine Calls for my spirit's homage, yet it yields Less than it feels, because the weapon which it wields
LXII Is of another temper, and I roam By Thrasimene's lake, in the defiles Fatal to Roman rashness, more at home; For there the Carthaginian's warlike wiles Come back before me, as his skill beguiles The host between the mountains the the shore, Where Courage falls in her despairing files, And torrents swoll'n to rivers with their gore, Reek through the sultry plain, with legions scatter'd o'er,
LXIII Like to a forest fell'd by mountain winds; And such the storm of battle on this day, And such the frenzy, whose convulsion blinds To all save carnage, that, beneath the fray, An earthquake reel'd unheededly away! None felt stern Nature rocking at his feet, And yawning forth a grave for those who lay Upon their bucklers for a winding-sheet; Such is the absorbing hate when warring nations meet!
LXIV The Earth to them was as a rolling bark Which bore them to Eternity; they saw The Ocean round, but had not time to mark The motions of their vessel; Nature's law, In them suspended, reck'd not of the awe Which reigns when mountains tremble, and the birds Plunge in the clouds for refuge, and withdraw From their down-toppling nests; and bellowing herds Stumble o'er heaving plains, and man's dread hath no words.
LXV Far other scene is Thrasimene now; Her lake a sheet of silver, and her plain Rent by no ravage save the gentle plough; Her aged trees rise thick as once the slain Lay where their roots are; but a brook hath ta'en -- A little rill of scanty stream and bed -- A name of blood from that day's sanguine rain; And Sanguinetto tells ye where the dead Made the earth wet, and turn'd the unwilling waters red.
LXVI But thou, Clitumnus! in thy sweetest wave Of the most living crystal that was e'er The haunt of river nymph, to gaze and lave Her limbs where nothing hid them, thou dost rear Thy grassy banks whereon the milk-white steer Grazes; the purest god of gentle waters! And most serene of aspect, and most clear; Surely that stream was unprofaned by slaughters, A mirror and a bath for Beauty's youngest daughters!
LXVII And on thy happy shore a Temple still, Of small and delicate proportion, keeps, Upon a mild declivity of hill, Its memory of thee; beneath it sweeps Thy current's calmness; oft from out it leaps The finny darter with the glittering scales, Who dwells and revels in thy glassy deeps; While, chance, some scatter'd waterlily sails Down were the shallower wave still tells its bubbling tales.
LXVIII Pass not unblest the Genius of the place! If through the air a zephyr more serene Win to the brow, 'tis his; and if ye trace Along his margin a more eloquent green, If on the heart the freshness of the scene Sprinkle its coolness, and from the dry dust Of weary life a moment lave it clean With Nature's baptism, -- 'tis to him ye must Pay orisons for this suspension of disgust.
LXIX The roar of waters! -- from the headlong height Velino cleaves the wave-worn precipice; The fall of waters! rapid as the light The flashing mass foams shaking the abyss; The hell of waters! where they howl and hiss, And boil in endless torture; while the sweat Of their great agony, wrung out from this Their Phlegethon, curls round the rocks of jet That guard the gulf around, in pitiless horror set,
LXX And mounts in spray the skies, and thence again Returns in an unceasing shower, which round, With its unemptied cloud of gentle rain, Is an eternal April to the ground, Making it all one emerald: -- how profound The gulf! and how the giant element From rock to rock leaps with delirious bound, Crushing the cliffs, which, downward worn and rent With his fierce footsteps, yields in chasms a fearful vent
LXXI To the broad column which rolls on, and shows More like the fountain of an infant sea Torn from the womb of mountains by the throes Of a new world, than only thus to be Parent of rivers, which glow gushingly, With many windings, through the vale: -- Look back! Lo! where it comes like an eternity, As if to sweep down all things in its track, Charming the eye with dread, -- a matchless cataract,
LXXII Horribly beautiful! but on the verge, From side to side, beneath the glittering morn, An Iris sits, amidst the infernal surge, Like Hope upon a death-bed, and, unworn Its steady dyes, while all around is torn By the distracted waters, bears serene Its brilliant hues with all their beams unshorn: Resembling, 'mid the torture of the scene, Love watching Madness with unalterable mien.
LXXIII Once more upon the woody Apennine, The infant Alps, which -- had I not before Gazed on their mightier parents, where the pine Sits on more shaggy summits, and where roar The thundering Lauwine -- might be worshipp'd more; But I have seen the soaring Jungfrau rear Her never-trodden snow, and seen the hoar Glaciers of bleak Mont Blanc both far and near, And in Chimari heard the thunder-hills of fear,
LXXIV Th' Acroceraunian mountains of old name; And on Parnassus seen the eagles fly Like spirits of the spot, as 'twere for fame, For still they soared unutterably high: I've look'd on Ida with a Trojan's eye; Athos, Olympus, ?tna, Atlas, made These hills seem things of lesser dignity, All, save the lone Soracte's height, display'd Not now in snow, which asks the lyric Roman's aid
LXXV For our remembrance, and from out the plain Heaves like a long-swept wave about to break, And on the curl hangs pausing: not in vain May he, who will, his recollections rake, And quote in classic raptures, and awake The hills with Latian echoes; I abhorr'd Too much, to conquer for the poet's sake, The drill'd dull lesson, forced down word by word In my repugnant youth, with pleasure to record
LXXVI Aught that recalls the daily drug which turn'd My sickening memory; and, though Time hath taught My mind to meditate what then it learn'd, Yet such the fix'd inveteracy, wrought By the impatience of my early thought, That with the freshness wearing out before My mind could relish what it might have sought, If free to choose, I cannot now restore Its health; but what it then detested, still abhor.
LXXVII Then farewell, Horace; whom I hated so, Not for thy faults, but mine; it is a curse To understand, not feel thy lyric flow, To comprehend, but never love thy verse: Although no deeper Moralist rehearse Our little life, nor Bard prescribe his art, Nor livelier Satirist the conscience pierce, Awakening without wounding the touch'd heart, Yet fare thee well -- upon Soracte's ridge we part.
LXXVIII Oh Rome! my country! city of the soul! The orphans of the heart must turn to thee, Lone mother of dead empires! and control In their shut breasts their petty misery. What are our woes and sufferance? Come and see The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way O'er steps of broken thrones and temples, Ye! Whose agonies are evils of day -- A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.
LXXIX The Niobe of nations! there she stands, Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe; An empty urn within her wither'd hands, Whose holy dust was scatter'd long ago; The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now; The very sepulchres lie tenantless Of their heroic dwellers: dost thou flow, Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness? Rise, with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress.
LXXX The Goth, the Christian, Time, War, Flood, and Fire, Have dealt upon the seven-hill'd city's pride; She saw her glories star by star expire, And up the steep barbarian monarchs ride, Where the car climb'd the Capitol; far and wide Temple and tower went down, nor left a site: Chaos of ruins! who shall trace the void, O'er the dim fragments cast a lunar light, And say, 'here was, or is,' where all is doubly night?
LXXXI The double night of ages, and of her, Night's daughter, Ignorance, hath wrapt and wrap All round us: we but feel our way to err: The ocean hath his chart, and stars their map, And Knowledge spreads them on her ample lap; But Rome is as the desert, where we steer Stumbling o'er recollections; now we clap Our hands, and cry 'Eureka!' it is clear -- When but some false mirage or ruin rises near.
LXXXII Alas! the lofty city! and alas! The trebly hundred triumphs! and the day When Brutus made the dagger's edge surpass The conqueror's sword in bearing fame away! Alas, for Tully's voice, and Virgil's lay, And Livy's pictured page! -- but these shall be Her resurrection; all beside -- decay. Alas for Earth, for never shall we see That brightness in her eye she bore when Rome was free!
LXXXIII O thou, whose chariot roll'd on Fortune's wheel, Triumphant Sylla! Thou, who didst subdue Thy country's foes ere thou wouldst pause to feel The wrath of thy own wrongs, or reap the due Of hoarded vengeance till thine eagles flew O'er prostrate Asia; -- thou, who with thy frown Annihilated senates -- Roman, too. With all thy vices, for thou didst lay down With an atoning smile a more than earthly crown --
LXXXIV The dictatorial wreath -- couldst thou divine To what would one day dwindle that which made Thee more than mortal? and that so supine By aught than Romans Rome should thus be laid? She who was named Eternal, and array'd Her warriors but to conquer -- she who veil'd Earth with her haughty shadow, and display'd, Until the o'er-canopied horizon fail'd, Her rushing wings -- Oh! she who was Almighty hail'd!
LXXXV Sylla was first of victors; but our own, The sagest of usurpers, Cromwell! -- he Too swept off senates while he hew'd the throne Down to a block -- immortal rebel! See What crimes it costs to be a moment free, And famous through all ages! but beneath His fate the moral lurks of destiny; His day of double victory and death Beheld him win two realms, and, happier, yield his breath.
LXXXVI The third of the same moon whose former course Had all but crown'd him, on the selfsame day Deposed him gently from his throne of force, And laid him with the earth's preceding clay. And show'd not Fortune thus how fame and sway, And all we deem delightful, and consume Our souls to compass through each arduous way, Are in her eyes less happy than the tomb? Were they but so in man's how different were his doom!
LXXXVII And thou, dread statue! yet existent in The austerest form of naked majesty, Thou who beheldest, 'mid the assassins' din, At thy bathed base the bloody C?sar lie, Folding his robe in dying dignity, An offering to thine altar from the queen Of gods and men, great Nemesis! did he die, And thou, too, perish, Pompey? have ye been Victors of countless kings, or puppets of a scene?
LXXXVIII And thou, the thunder-stricken nurse of Rome! She-wolf! whose brazen-imaged dugs impart The milk of conquest yet within the dome Where, as a monument of antique art, Thou standest: -- Mother of the mighty heart, Which the great founder suck'd from thy wild teat, Scorch'd by the Roman Jove's ethereal dart, And thy limbs black with lightning -- dost thou yet Guard thine immoral cubs, nor thy fond charge forget?
LXXXIX Thou dost; but all thy foster-babes are dead -- The men of iron: and the world hath rear'd Cities from out their sepulchres: men bled In imitation of the things they fear'd, And fought and conquer'd, and the same course steer'd, At apish distance; but as yet none have, Nor could the same supremacy have near'd, Save one vain man, who is not in the grave, But, vanquish'd by himself, to his own slaves a slave --
XC The fool of false dominion -- and a kind Of bastard C?sar, following him of old With steps unequal; for the Roman's mind Was modell'd in a less terrestrial mould, With passions fiercer, yet a judgment cold, And an immortal instinct which redeem'd The frailties of a heart so soft, yet bold, Alcides with the distaff now he seem'd At Cleopatra's feet, -- and now himself he beam'd,
XCI And came -- and saw -- and conquer'd ! But the man Who would have tamed his eagles down to flee, Like a train'd falcon, in the Gallic van, Which he, in sooth, long led to victory With a deaf heart, which never seem'd to be A listener to itself, was strangely framed; With but one weakest weakness -- vanity, Coquettish in ambition, still he aim'd -- At what? can he avouch, or answer what he claim'd?
XCII And would be all or nothing -- nor could wait For the sure grave to level him; few years Had fix'd him with the C?sars in his fate, On whom we tread; for this the conqueror rears The arch of triumph and for this the tears And blood of earth flow on as they have flow'd, An universal deluge, which appears Without an ark for wretched man's abode, And ebbs but to reflow! Renew thy rainbow, God!
XCIII What from this barren being do we reap? Our senses narrow, and our reason frail, Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep, And all things weigh'd in custom's falsest scale; Opinion an omnipotence, -- whose veil Mantles the earth with darkness, until right And wrong are accidents, and men grow pale Lest their own judgments should become too bright, And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have too much light.
XCIV And thus they plod in sluggish misery, Rotting from sire to son, and age to age, Proud of their trampled nature, and so die, Bequeathing their hereditary rage To the new race of inborn slaves, who wage War for their chains, and rather than be free, Bleed gladiator-like, and still engage Within the same arena where they see Their fellows fall before, like leaves of the same tree.
XCV I speak not of men's creeds -- they rest between Man and his Maker -- but of things allow'd, Averr'd, and known, and daily, hourly seen -- The yoke that is upon us doubly bow'd, And the intent of tyranny avow'd, The edict of Earth's rulers, who are grown The apes of him who humbled once the proud, And shook them from their slumbers on the throne: Too glorious, were this all his mighty arm had done.
XCVI Can tyrants but by tyrants conquer'd be, And Freedom find no champion and no child Such as Columbia saw arise when she Sprung forth a Pallas, arm'd and undefiled? Or must such minds be nourish'd in the wild, Deep in the unpruned forest, 'midst the roar Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled On infant Washington? Has Earth no more Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?
XCVII But France got drunk with blood to vomit crime, And fatal have her Saturnalia been To Freedom's cause, in every age an clime; Because the deadly days which we have seen, And vile Ambition, that built up between Man and his hopes an adamantine wall, And the base pageant last upon the scene, Are grown the pretext for the eternal thrall Which nips life's tree, and dooms man's worst -- his second fall.
XCVIII Yet, Freedom! yet thy banner, torn, but flying, Streams like the thunder-storm against the wind; Thy trumpet voice, though broken now and dying, The loudest still the tempest leaves behind; Thy tree hath lost its blossoms, and the rind, Chopp'd by the axe, looks rough and little worth, But the sap lasts, -- and still the seed we find Sown deep, even in the bosom of the North; So shall a better spring less better fruit bring forth.
XCIX There is a stern round tower of other days, Firm as a fortress, with its fence of stone, Such as an army's baffled strength delays, Standing with half its battlements alone, And with two thousand years of ivy grown, The garland of eternity, where wave The green leaves over all by time o'er thrown; -- Where was this tower of strength? within its case What treasure lay, so lock'd, so hid? -- A woman's grave.
C But who was she, the lady of the dead, Tomb'd in a palace? Was she chaste and fair? Worthy a king's, or more -- a Roman's bed? What race of chiefs and heroes did she bear? What daughter of her beauties was she heir? How lived, how loved, how died she? Was she not So honoured -- and conspicuously there, Where meaner relics must not dare to rot, Placed to commemorate a more than mortal lot?
CI Was she as those who love their lords, or they Who love the lords of others? such have been Even in the olden time, Rome's annals say. Was she a matron of Cornelia's mien, Or the light air of Egypt's graceful queen, Profuse of joy -- or 'gainst it did she war Inveterate in virtue? Did she lean To the soft side of the heart, or wisely bar Love from amongst her griefs? -- for such the affections are.
CII Perchance she died in youth: it may be, bow'd With woes far heavier than the ponderous tomb That weigh'd upon her gentle dust, a cloud Might gather o'er her beauty, and a gloom In her dark eye, prophetic of the doom Heaven gives its favourites -- early death; yet shed A sunset charm around her, and illume With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead, Of her consuming cheek the autumnal leaf-like red.
CIII Perchance she died in age -- surviving all, Charms, kindred, children -- with the silver gray On her long tresses, which might yet recall, It may be, still a something of the day When they were braided, and her proud array And lovely form were envied, praised, and eyed By Rome -- But whither would Conjecture stray? Thus much alone we know -- Metella died, The wealthiest Roman's wife: Behold his love or pride!
CIV I know not why -- but standing thus by thee It seems as if I had thine inmate known, Thou Tomb! and other days come back on me With recollected music, though the tone Is changed and solemn, like the cloudy groan Of dying thunder on the distant wind; Yet could I set me by this ivied stone Till I had bodied forth the heated mind, Forms from the floating wreck which Ruin leaves behind;
CV And from the planks, far shatter'd o'er the rocks, Built me a little bark of hope, once more To battle with the ocean and the shocks Of the loud breakers, and the ceaseless roar Which rushes on the solitary shore Where all lies founder'd that was ever dear: But could I gather from the wave-worn store Enough for my rude boat, where should I steer? There woos no home, nor hope, nor life, save what is here.
CVI Then let the winds howl on! their harmony Shall henceforth be my music, and the night The sound shall temper with the owlets' cry, As I now hear them, in the fading light Dim o'er the bird of darkness' native site, Answering each other on the Palatine, With their large eyes, all glistening gray and bright, And sailing pinions. -- Upon such a shrine What are our petty griefs? -- let me not number mine.
CVII Cypress and ivy, weed and wallflower grown, Matted and mass'd together, hillocks heap'd On what were chambers, arch crush'd, column strown In fragments, choked up vaults, and frescos steep'd In subterranean damps, where the owl peep'd, Deeming it midnight: -- Temples, baths, or halls? Pronounce who can; for all that Learning reap'd From her research hath been, that these are walls -- Behold thee Imperial Mount! 'tis thus the mighty falls.
CVIII There is the moral of all human tales; 'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past, First Freedom, and then Glory -- when that fails, Wealth, vice , corruption, -- barbarism at last. And History, with all her volumes vast, Hath but one page, -- 'tis better written here Where gorgeous Tyranny hath thus amass'd All treasures, all delights, that eye or ear, Heart, soul, could seek, tongue ask -- Away with words! draw near,
CIX Admire, exult, despise, laugh, weep, -- for here There is such matter for all feeling: -- Man! Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear, Ages and realms are crowded in this span, This mountain, whose obliterated plan The pyramid of empires pinnacled, Of Glory's gewgaws shining in the van Till the sun's rays with added flame were fill'd! Where are its golden roofs? where those who dared to build?
CX Tully was not so eloquent as thou, Thou nameless column with the buried base! What are the laurels of the C?sar's brow? Crown me with ivy from his dwelling-place. Whose arch or pillar meets me in the face, Titus or Trajan's? No -- 'tis that of Time: Triumph, arch, pillar, all he doth displace Scoffing; and apostolic statues climb To crush the imperial urn, whose ashes slept sublime,
CXI Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome, And looking to the stars; they had contain'd A spirit which with thee would find a home, The last of those who o'er the whole earth reign'd, The Roman globe, for after none sustain'd, But yielded back his conquests: -- he was more Than a mere Alexander, and unstain'd With household blood and wine, serenely wore His sovereign virtues -- still we Trajan's name adore.
CXII Where is the rock of Triumph, the high place Where Rome embraced her heroes? where the steep Tarpeian? fittest goal of Treason's race, The promontory whence the Traitor's Leap Cured all ambition. Did the conquerors heap Their spoils here? Yes; and in yon field below, A thousand years of silenced faction sleep -- The Forum, where the immortal accents glow, And still the eloquent air breathes -- burns with Cicero!
CXIII The field of freedom, faction, fame, and blood: Here a proud people's passions were exhaled, From the first hour of empire in the bud To that when further worlds to conquer fail'd; But long before had Freedom's face been veil'd, And Anarchy assumed her attributes; Till every lawless soldier who assail'd Trod on the trembling senate's slavish mutes, Or raised the venal voice of baser prostitutes.
CXIV Then turn we to her latest tribune's name, From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee, Redeemer of dark centuries of shame -- The friend of Petrarch -- hope of Italy -- Rienzi! last of Romans! While the tree Of freedom's wither'd trunk puts forth a leaf Even for thy tomb a garland let it be -- The forum's champion, and the people's chief -- Her new-born Numa thou -- with reign, alas! too brief.
CXV Egeria! sweet creation of some heart Which found no mortal resting-place so fair As thine ideal breast; whate'er thou art Or wert, -- a young Aurora of the air, The nympholepsy of some fond despair; Or, it might be, a beauty of the earth, Who found a more than common votary there Too much adoring; whatsoe'er thy birth, Thou wert a beautiful thought, and softly bodied forth.
CXVI The mosses of thy fountain still are sprinkled With thine Elysian water-drops; the face Of thy cave-guarded spring with years unwrinkled, Reflects the meek-eyed genius of the place, Whose green, wild margin now no more erase Art's works; nor must the delicate waters sleep, Prison'd in marble -- bubbling from the base Of the cleft statue, with a gentle leap The rill runs o'er -- and round -- fern, flowers, and ivy creep,
CXVII Fantastically tangled: the green hills Are clothed with early blossoms, through the grass The quick-eyed lizard rustles, and the bills Of summer-birds sing welcome as ye pass; Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class, Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes, Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass; The sweetness of the violet's deep blue eyes, Kiss'd by the breath of heaven, seems colour'd by its skies.
CXVIII Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover, Egeria! thy all heavenly bosom beating For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover; The purple Midnight veil'd that mystic meeting With her most starry canopy, and seating Thyself by thine adorer, what befell? This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting Of an enamour'd Goddess, and the cell Haunted by holy Love -- the earliest oracle!
CXIX And didst thou not, thy breast to his replying, Blend a celestial with a human heart; And Love, which dies as it was born, in sighing, Share with immortal transports? could thine art Make them indeed immortal, and impart The purity of heaven to earthly joys, Expel the venom and not blunt the dart -- The dull satiety which all destroys -- And root from out the soul the deadly weed which cloys?
CXX Alas! our young affections run to waste, Or water but the desert; whence arise But weeds of dark luxuriance, tares of haste, Rank at the core, though tempting to the eyes, Flowers whose wild odours breathe but agonies, And trees whose gums are poisons; such the plants Which spring beneath her steps as Passion flies O'er the world's wilderness, and vainly pants For some celestial fruit forbidden to our wants.
CXXI Oh, Love! no habitant of earth thou art -- An unseen seraph, we believe in thee, -- A faith whose martyrs are the broken heart, -- But never yet hath seen, nor e'er shall see The naked eye, thy form, as it should be; The mind hath made thee, as it peopled heaven, Even with its own desiring phantasy, And to a thought such shape and image given, As haunts the unquench'd soul -- parch'd, wearied, wrung, and riven.
CXXII Of its own beauty is the mind diseased, And fevers into false creation: -- where, Where are the forms the sculptor's soul hath seiz'd? In him alone. Can Nature show so fair? Where are the charms and virtues which we dare Conceive in boyhood and pursue as men, The unreach'd Paradise of our despair, Which o'er-informs the pencil and the pen, And overpowers the page where it would bloom again?
CXXIII Who loves, raves -- 'tis youth's frenzy -- but the cure Is bitterer still, as charm by charm unwinds Which robed our idols, and we see too sure Nor worth nor beauty dwells from out the mind's Ideal shape of such; yet still it binds The fatal spell, and still it draws us on, Reaping the whirlwind from the oftsown winds; The stubborn heart, its alchemy begun, Seems ever near the prize -- wealthiest when most undone.
CXXIV We wither from our youth, we gasp away -- Sick -- sick; unfound the boon, unslaked the thirst, Though to the last, in verge of our decay, Some phantom lures, such as we sought at first -- But all too late, -- so are we doubly curst. Love, fame, ambition, avarice -- 'tis the same, Each idle, and all ill, and none the worst -- For we all are meteors with a different name, And Death the sable smoke where vanishes the flame.
CXXV Few -- none -- find what they love or could have loved, Though accident, blind contact, and the strong Necessity of loving, have removed Antipathies -- but to recur, ere long, Envenom'd with irrevocable wrong; And Circumstance, that unspiritual god And miscreator, makes and helps along Our coming evils with a crutch-like rod, Whose touch turns Hope to dust, -- the dust we all have trod.
CXXVI Our life is a false nature: 'tis not in The harmony of things, -- this hard decree, This uneradicable taint of sin This boundless upas, this all-blasting tree, Whose root is earth, whose leaves and branches be The skies which rain their plagues on men like dew -- Disease, death, bondage -- all the woes we see, And worse, the woes we see not -- which throb through The immedicable soul, with heart-aches ever new.
CXXVII Yet let us ponder boldly -- 'tis a base Abandonment of reason to resign Our right of thought -- our last and only place Of refuge; this, at least, shall still be mine: Though from our birth the faculty divine Is chain'd and tortured -- cabin'd, cribb'd, confined, And bred in darkness, lest the truth should shine Too brightly on the unpreparèd mind, The beam pours in, for time and skill will couch the blind.
CXXVIII Arches on arches! as it were that Rome, Collecting the chief trophies of her line, Would build up all her triumphs in one dome, Her coliseum stands; the moonbeams shine As 'twere its natural torches, for divine Should be the light which streams here to illume This long-explored but still exhaustless mine Of contemplation; and the azure gloom Of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume
CXXIX Hues which have words, and speak to ye of heaven, Floats o'er this vast and wondrous monument, And shadows forth its glory. There is given Unto the things of earth, which Time hath bent A spirit's feeling, and where he hath leant His hand, but broke his scythe, there is a power And magic in the ruin'd battlement, For which the palace of the present hour Must yield its pomp, and wait till ages are its dower.
CXXX Oh Time! the beautifier of the dead, Adorner of the ruin, comforter And only healer when the heart hath bled; Time! the corrector where our judgments err, The test of truth, love, -- sole philosopher, For all beside are sophists -- from thy thrift, Which never loses though it doth defer -- Time, the avenger! unto thee I lift My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a gift:
CXXXI Amidst this wreck, where thou hast made a shrine And temple more divinely desolate, Among thy mightier offerings here are mine, Ruins of years, though few, yet full of fate: If thou hast ever seen me too elate, Hear me not; but if calmly I have borne Good, and reserved my pride against the hate Which shall not whelm me, let me not have worn This iron in my soul in vain -- shall they not mourn?
CXXXII And thou, who never yet of human wrong Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis! Here, where the ancient paid thee homage long -- Thou who didst call the Furies from the abyss, And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss For that unnatural retribution -- just, Had it but been from hands less near -- in this Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust! Dost thou not hear my heart? -- Awake! thou shalt, and must.
CXXXIII It is not that I may not have incurr'd For my ancestral faults or mine the wound I bleed withal, and, had it been conferr'd With a just weapon, it had flow'd unbound; But now my blood shall not sink in the ground; To thee I do devote it. -- thou shalt take The vengeance, which shall yet be sought and found, Which if I have not taken for the sake -- But let that pass -- I sleep, but thou shalt yet awake.
CXXXIV And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now I shrink from what is suffer'd: let him speak Who hath beheld decline upon my brow, Or seen my mind's convulsion leave it weak; But in this page a record will I seek. Not in the air shall these my words disperse, Though I be ashes; a far hour shall wreak The deep prophetic fulness of this verse, And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse!
CXXXV That curse shall be Forgiveness. -- Have I not -- Hear me, my mother Earth! behold it, Heaven! Have I not had to wrestle with my lot? Have I not suffer'd things to be forgiven? Have I not had my brain sear'd, my heart riven, Hopes sapp'd, name blighted, Life's life lied away? And only not to desperation driven, Because not altogether of such clay As rots into the souls of those whom I survey.
CXXXVI From mighty wrongs to petty perfidy Have I not seen what human things could do? From the loud roar of foaming calumny To the small whisper of the as paltry few, And subtler venom of the reptile crew, The Janus glance of whose significant eye, Learning to lie with silence, would seem true, And without utterance, save the shrug or sign, Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy.
CXXXVII But I have lived, and have not lived in vain: My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire, And my frame perish even in conquering pain; But there is that within me which shall tire Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire; Something unearthly, which they deem not of, Like the remember'd tone of a mute lyre, Shall on their soften'd spirits sink, and move In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.
CXXXVIII The seal is set. -- Now welcome, thou dread power! Nameless, yet thus omnipotent, which here Walk'st in the shadow of the midnight hour With a deep awe, yet all distinct from fear; Thy haunts are ever where the dead walls rear Their ivy mantles, and the solemn scene Derives from thee a sense so deep and clear That we become a part of what has been, And grow unto the spot, all-seeing but unseen.
CXXXIX And here the buzz of eager nations ran, In murmur'd pity, or loud-roar'd applause, As man was slaughter'd by his fellow-man. And wherefore slaughter'd? wherefore, but because Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws, And the imperial pleasure. -- Wherefore not? What matters where we fall to fill the maws Of worms -- on battle-plains or listed spot? Both are but theatres -- where the chief actors rot.
CXL I see before me the Gladiator lie: He leans upon his hand -- his manly brow Consents to death, but conquers agony, And his droop'd head sinks gradually low -- And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one, Like the first of a thunder-shower; and now The arena swims around him -- he is gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hail'd the wretch who won.
CXLI He heard it, but he heeded not -- his eyes Were with his heart, and that was far away; He reck'd not of the life he lost nor prize, But where his rude hut by the Danube lay, There where his young barbarians all at play, There was their Dacian mother -- he, their sire, Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday -- All this rush'd with his blood -- Shall he expire And unavenged? Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire!
CXLII But here, where Murder breathed her bloody steam; And here, where buzzing nations choked the ways, And roar'd or murmur'd like a mountain stream Dashing or winding as its torrent strays; Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise Was death or life, the playthings of a crowd, My voice sounds much -- and fall the stars faint rays On the arena void -- seats crush'd -- walls bow'd -- And galleries, where my steps seem echoes strangely loud.
CXLIII A ruin -- yet what a ruin! from its mass Walls, palaces, half-cities, have been rear'd; Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass, And marvel where the spoil could have appear'd. Hath it indeed been plunder'd, or but clear'd? Alas! developed, opens the decay, When the colossal fabric's form is near'd: It will not bear the brightness of the day, Which streams too much on all -- years -- man -- have reft away.
CXLIV But when the rising moon begins to climb Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there; When the stars twinkle through the loops of time, And the low night-breeze waves along the air The garland-forest, which the gray walls wear, Like laurels on the bald first C?sar's head; When the light shines serene but doth not glare, Then in this magic circle raise the dead: Heroes have trod this spot -- 'tis on their dust ye tread.
CXLV 'While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; 'When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; 'And when Rome falls -- the World.' From our own land Thus spake the pilgrims o'er this mighty wall In Saxon times, which we are wont to call Ancient; and these three mortal things are still On their foundations, and unalter'd all; Rome and her Ruin past Redemption's skill, The World, the same wide den -- of thieves, or what ye will.
CXLVI Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime -- Shrine of all saints and temple of all gods, From Jove to Jesus -- spared and blest by time; Looking tranquillity, while falls or nods Arch, empire, each thing round thee, and man plods His way through thorns to ashes -- glorious dome! Shalt thou not last? Time's scythe and tyrants' rods Shiver upon thee -- sanctuary and home Of art and piety -- Pantheon! -- pride of Rome!
CXLVII Relic of nobler days, and noblest arts! Despoil'd yet perfect, with thy circle spreads A holiness appealing to all hearts -- To art a model; and to him who treads Rome for the sake of ages, Glory sheds Her light through thy sole aperture; to those Who worship, here are altars for their beads; And they who feel for genius may repose Their eyes on honour'd forms, whose busts around them close.
CXLVIII There is a dungeon, in whose dim drear light What do I gaze on? Nothing: Look again! Two forms are slowly shadow'd on my sight -- Two insulated phantoms of the brain: It is not so; I see them full and plain -- An old man, and a female young and fair, Fresh as a nursing mother, in whose vein The blood is nectar: -- but what doth she there, With her unmantled neck, and bosom white and bare?
CXLIX Full swells the deep pure fountain of young life, Where on the heart and from the heart we took Our first and sweetest nurture, when the wife, Blest into mother, in the innocent look, Or even the piping cry of lips that brook No pain and small suspense, a joy perceives Man knows not, when from out its cradled nook She sees her little bud put forth its leaves -- What may the fruit be yet? I know not -- Cain was Eve's.
CL But here youth offers to old age the food, The milk of his own gift: it is her sire To whom she renders back the debt of blood Born with her birth. No; he shall not expire While in those warm and lovely veins the fire Of health and holy feeling can provide Great Nature's Nile, whose deep stream rises higher Than Egypt's river: from that gentle side Drink, drink and live, old man! Heaven's realm holds no such tide.
CLI The starry fable of the milky way Has not thy story's purity; it is A constellation of a sweeter ray, And sacred Nature triumphs more in this Reverse of her decree, than in the abyss Where sparkle distant worlds: -- Oh, holiest nurse! No drop of that clear stream its way shall miss To thy sire's heart, replenishing its source With life, as our freed souls rejoin the universe.
CLII Turn to the mole which Hadrian rear'd on high, Imperial mimic of old Egypt's piles, Colossal copyist of deformity Whose travell'd phantasy from the far Nile's Enormous model, doom'd the artist's toils To build for giants, and for his vain earth, His shrunken ashes, raise this dome: How smiles The gazer's eyes with philosophic mirth, To view the huge design which sprung from such a birth!
CLIII But lo! the dome -- the vast and wondrous dome, To which Diana's marvel was a cell -- Christ's mighty shrine above his martyr's tomb! I have beheld the Ephesian's miracle; -- Its columns strew the wilderness, and dwell The hy?na and the jackal in their shade; I have beheld Sophia's bright roofs swell Their glittering mass i' the sun, and have survey'd Its sanctuary the while the usurping Moslem pray'd;
CLIV But thou, of temples old, or altars new, Standest alone, with nothing like to thee -- Worthiest of God, the holy and the true. Since Zion's desolation, when that He Forsook his former city, what could be, Of earthly structures, in his honour piled, Of a sublimer aspect? Majesty, Power, Glory, Strength, and Beauty all are aisled In this eternal ark of worship undefiled.
CLV Enter: its grandeur overwhelms thee not; And why? It is not lessen'd; but thy mind, Expanded by the genius of the spot, Has grown colossal, and can only find A fit abode wherein appear enshrined Thy hopes of immortality; and thou Shalt one day, if found worthy, so defined, See thy God face to face, as thou dost now His Holy of Holies, nor be blasted by his brow.
CLVI Thou movest, but increasing with the advance, Like climbing some great Alp, which still doth rise, Deceived by its gigantic elegance; Vastness which grows, but grows to harmonise -- All musical in its immensities; Rich marbles, richer painting -- shrines where flame The lamps of gold -- and haughty dome which view In air with Earth's chief structures, though their frame Sits on the firm-set ground, and this the clouds must claim.
CLVII Thou seest not all; but piecemeal thou must break, To separate contemplation, the great whole; And as the ocean many bays will make That ask the eye -- so here condense thy soul To more immediate objects, and control Thy thoughts until thy mind hath got by heart Its eloquent proportions, and unroll In mighty graduations, part by part, The glory which at once upon thee did not dart,
CLVIII Not by its fault -- but thine: Our outward sense Is but of gradual grasp -- and as it is That what we have of feeling most intense Outstrips our faint expression; even so this Outshining and o'erwhelming edifice Fools our fond gaze,and greatest of the great Defies at first our Nature's littleness, Till growing with its growth, we thus dilate Our spirits to the size of that they contemplate.
CLVIX Then pause, and be enlighten'd; there is more In such a survey than the sating gaze Of wonder pleased, or awe which would adore The worship of the place, or the mere praise Of art and its great masters, who could raise What former time, nor skill, nor thought could plan; The fountain of sublimity displays Its depth, and thence may draw the mind of man Its golden sands, and learn what great conceptions can.
CLX Or, turning to the Vatican, go see Laoco?n's torture dignifying pain -- A father's love and mortal's agony With an immortal's patience blending: -- Vain The struggle vain, against the coiling strain And gripe, and deepening of the dragon's grasp, The old man's clench; the long unvenom'd chain Rivets the living links, -- the enormous asp Enforces pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp.
CLXI Or view the Lord of the unerring bow, The God of life, and poesy, and light -- The Sun in human limbs array'd, and brow All radiant from his triumph in the fight; The shaft hath just been shot -- the arrow bright With an immortal's vengeance; in his eye And nostril beautiful disdain, and might And majesty, flash their full lightnings by, Developing in that once glance the Deity.
CLXII But in his delicate form -- a dream of Love, Shaped by some solitary nymph, whose breast Long'd for a deathless lover from above, And madden'd in that vision -- are exprest All that ideal beauty ever bless'd The mind with in its most unearthly mood, When each conception was a heavenly guest -- A ray of immortality -- and stood Starlike, around, until they gather'd to a god!
CLXIII And if it be Prometheus stole from Heaven The fire which we endure, it was repaid By him to whom the energy was given Which this poetic marble hath array'd With an eternal glory -- which, if made By human hands, is not of human thought; And Time himself hath hallow'd it, nor laid One ringlet in the dust -- nor hath it caught A tinge of years, but breathes the flame with which 'twas wrought.
CLXIV But where is he, the Pilgrim of my song, The being who upheld it through the past? Methinks he cometh late and tarries long. He is no more -- these breathings are his last; His wanderings done, his visions ebbing fast, And he himself as nothing: -- if he was Aught but a phantasy, and could be class'd With forms which live and suffer -- let that pass -- His shadow fades away into Destruction's mass,
CLXV Which gathers shadow, substance, life, and all That we inherit in its mortal shroud, And spreads the dim and universal pall Through which all things grow phantoms; and the cloud Between us sinks and all which ever glow'd, Till Glory's self is twilight, and displays A melancholy halo scarce allow'd To hover on the verge of darkness; rays Sadder than saddest night, for they distract the gaze,
CLXVI And send us prying into the abyss, To gather what we shall be when the frame Shall be resolved to something less than this Its wretched essence; and to dream of fame, And wipe the dust from off the idle name We never more shall hear, -- but never more Oh, happier thought! can we be made the same: It is enough in sooth that once we bore These fardels of the heart -- the heart whose sweat was gore.
CLXVII Hark! forth from the abyss a voice proceeds, A long low distant murmur of dread sound, Such as arises when a nation bleeds With some deep and immedicable wound; Through storm and darkness yawns the rending ground, The gulf is thick with phantoms, but the chief Seems royal still, though with her head discrown'd, And pale, but lovely, with maternal grief She clasps a babe, to whom her breast yields no relief.
CLXVIII Scion of chiefs and monarchs, where art thou? Fond hope of many nations, art thou dead? Could not the grave forget thee, and lay low Some less majestic, less beloved head? In the sad midnight, while thy heart still bled, The mother of a moment, o'er thy boy, Death hush'd that pang for ever: with thee fled The present happiness and promised joy Which fill'd the imperial isles so full it seem'd to cloy.
CLXIX Peasants bring forth in safety. -- Can it be, Oh thou that wert so happy, so adored! Those who weep not for kings shall weep for thee, And Freedom's heart, grown heavy, cease to hoard Her many griefs for ONE; for she had pour'd Her orisons for thee, and o'er thy head Beheld her Iris. -- Thou, too, lonely lord, And desolate consort -- vainly wert thou wed! The husband of a year! the father of the dead!
CLXX Of sackcloth was thy wedding garment made; Thy bridal's fruit is ashes: in the dust The fair-hair'd Daughter of the Isles is laid, The love of millions! How we did intrust Futurity to her! and, though it must Darken above our bones, yet fondly deem'd Our children should obey her child, and bless'd Her and her hoped-for seed, whose promise seem'd Like stars to shepherds' eyes: -- 'twas but a meteor beam'd.
CLXXI Woe unto us, not her; for she sleeps well: The fickle reek of popular breath, the tongue Of hollow counsel, the false oracle, Which from the birth of monarchy hath run Its knell in princely ears, till the o'erstung Nations have arm'd in madness, the strange fate Which tumbles mightiest sovereigns, and hath flung Against their blind omnipotence a weight Within the opposing scale, which crushes soon or late, --
CLXXII These might have been her destiny; but no, Our hearts deny it: and so young, so fair, Good without effort, great without a foe; But now a bride and mother -- and now there! How many ties did that stern moment tear! From thy Sire's to his humblest subject's breast Is link'd the electric chain of that despair, Whose shock was as an earthquake's, and opprest The land which loved thee so that none could love thee best.
CLXXIII Lo, Nemi! navell'd in the woody hills So far, that the uprooting wind which tears The oak from his foundation, and which spills The ocean o'er its boundary, and bears Its foam against the skies, reluctant spares The oval mirror of thy glassy lake; And calm as cherish'd hate, its surface wears A deep cold settled aspect nought can shake, All coil'd into itself and round, as sleeps the snake.
CLXXIV And near, Albano's scarce divided waves Shine from a sister valley; -- and afar The Tiber winds, and the broad ocean laves The Latian coast where sprung the Epic war, 'Arms and the Man,' whose re-ascending star Rose o'er an empire: -- but beneath thy right Tully reposed from Rome; -- and where yon bar Of girdling mountains intercepts the sight The Sabine farm was till'd, the weary bard's delight.
CLXXV But I forget. -- My Pilgrim's shrine is won, And he and I must part, -- so let it be, -- His task and mine alike are nearly done; Yet once more let us look upon the sea; The midland ocean breaks on him and me, And from the Alban Mount we now behold Our friend of youth, that Ocean, which when we Beheld it last by Calpe's rock unfold Those waves, we follow'd on till the dark Euxine roll'd
CLXXVI Upon the blue Symplegades: long years -- Long, though not very many -- since have done Their work on both; some suffering and some tears Have left us nearly where we had begun: Yet not in vain our mortal race hath run; We have had our reward, and it is here, -- That we can yet feel gladden'd by the sun, And reap from earth, sea, joy almost as dear As if there were no man to trouble what is clear.
CLXXVII Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling-place, With one fair Spirit for my minister, That I might all forget the human race, And, hating no one, love but only her! Ye elements! -- in whose enobling stir I feel myself exalted -- Can ye not Accord me such a being? Do I err In deeming such inhabit many a spot? Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot.
CLXXVIII There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep Sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more, From these our interviews, in which I steal From all I may be, or have been before, To mingle with the Universe, and feel What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.
CLXXIX Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean -- roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; Man marks the earth with ruin -- his control Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain A shadow of man's ravage, save his own, When, for a moment, like a drop of rain, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.
CLXXX His steps are not upon thy paths, -- thy fields Are not a spoil for him -- thou dost arise And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields For earth's destruction thou dost all despise, Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies, And send'st him shivering in thy playful spray And howling, to his Gods, where haply lies His petty hope in some near port or bay, And dashest him again to earth: -- there let him lay.
CLXXXI The armaments which thunderstrike the walls Of rock-built cities. bidding nations quake, And monarchs tremble in their capitals, The oak leviathons, whose huge ribs make Their clay creator the vain title take Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war -- These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake, They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride or spoils of Trafalgar.
CLXXXII Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee -- Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? Thy waters wash'd them power while they were free, And many a tyrant since; their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay Has dried up realms to deserts: -- not so thou; -- Unchangeable, save to thy wild waves' play, Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow: Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
CLXXXIII Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form Glasses itself in tempests; in all time, -- Calm or convulsed, in breeze, or gale, or storm, Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime Dark-heaving -- boundless, endless, and sublime, The image of eternity, the throne Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime The monsters of the deep are made; each zone Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
CLXXXIV And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy I wanton'd with thy breakers -- they to me Were a delight; and if the freshening sea Made them a terror -- 'twas a pleasing fear, For I was as it were a child of thee, And trusted to thy billows far and near, And laid my hand upon thy mane -- as I do here.
CLXXXV My task is done, my song hath ceased, my theme Has died into an echo; it is fit The spell should break of this protracted dream. The torch shall be extinguish'd which hath lit My midnight lamp -- and what is writ, is writ; Would it were worthier! but I am not now That which I have been -- and my visions flit Less palpably before me -- and the glow Which, in my spirit dwelt is fluttering, faint, and low.
CLXXXVI Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been -- A sound which makes us linger; -- yet -- farewell! Ye! who have traced the Pilgrim to the scene Which is his last, if in your memories dwell A thought which once was his, if on ye swell A single recollection, not in vain He wore his sandal-shoon and scallop-shell; Farewell! with him alone may rest the pain If such there were -- with you, the moral of his strain.
Poems by George Gordon Byron, George Gordon Byron's poems collection. George Gordon Byron is a classical and famous poet [Lord Byron] (22 January 1788 - 19 April 1824 / London, England). Share all poems of George Gordon Byron.