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The soul and source of music, which makes known
Eternal harmony, and sheds a charm
Like to the fabled Cytherea's zone,?
Binding all things with beauty: — 'twould dis-
The spectre Death, had he substantial power to harm.
Not vainly did the early Persian make
His altar the high places, and the peak
Of earth-o'ergazing mountains, nnd thus take
A fit and unwalled temple, there to seek
The Spirit, in whose honour shrines arc weak.
Upreared of human hands. Come, and compare
Columns and idol-dwellings, Goth or Greek,
With Nature's realms of worship, earth and air,
Nor fix on fond abodes to circumscribe thy
The sky is changed!—and such a change! Oh night,
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
Of a dark eye in woman! Far along.
Prom peak to peak, the rattling crags among
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone
But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her
And this is in the night:—Most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,—
A portion of the tempest and of thee!
How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again 'tis black,—and now, the glee
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-
As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth.
Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his way between
Heights which appear as lovers who have parted
In hate, whose mining depths so intervene, That they can meet no more, though brokenhearted;
Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted.
Love was the very root of the fond rage 7 The restus of Venus, which Inspired Love.
Which blighted their life's bloom, and then departed:
Itself expired, but leaving them an age Of years all winters,—war within themselves to wage:
Now, where the quick Rhone thus hath cleft his way,
The mightiest of the storms hath ta'en his stand:
For here, not one, but many, make their play, And fling their thunderbolts from hand to hand,
Flashing and cast around; of all the band, The brightest through these parted hills hath forked
His lightnings,—as if he did understand,
That in such gaps as desolation worked,
There the hot shaft should blast whatever
Sky, mountains, river, winds, lake, lightnings! ye!
With night, and clouds, and thunder, and a soul
To make these felt and feeling, well may be
Things that have made me watchful; the far
Of your departing voices, is the knoll
Of what in me is sleepless,—if I rest.
But where of ye, O tempests! is the goal!
Are ye like those within the human breast!
Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some
Could I embody and unbosom now
That which is most within me,—could I wreak
My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw-
Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or
All that I would have sought, and all I seek, Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe—into one word,
And that one word were Lightning, I would speak;
But as it is I live and die unheard,
With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.
The morn is up again, the dewy morn,
With breath all incense, and with cheek all
Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn,
And living as if earth contained no tomb,—
And glowing into day: we may resume
The march of our existence: and thus I,
Still on thy shores, fair Leman! may find room And food for meditation, nor pass by
Much, that may give us pause, if ponder'd fittingly.
Venice. From Canto IV
I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;1
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,2 and a dying Glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Looked to the winged Lion 'a3 marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her
She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers4
At airy distance, with majestic motion,
A ruler of the waters and their powers;
And such she was;—her daughters had their
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless
Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers. In purple was she robed, and of her feast Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.
In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,11
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!
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 vanished sway;
i The gallery spanning the canal between the
ducal palace and the prison. : See note on Wordsworth's sonnet, p. 427. 3 Tbe Lion of ft. Mark, surmounting one of the I
two pillars in the square In front of the
palace. The Lion wns also the standard of
the republic; see st. 14. * In ancient nrt. the goddess Cylwle wore a tur
5 Stanzas of Tasso's Jcrumlem Delivered were once sung by the gondoliers.
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
For us repeopled were the solitary shore.
The beings of the mind are not of clay;
Essentially immortal, they create
And multiply in us a brighter ray
And more beloved 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
And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.
Before St. Mark still glow his Steeds of brass,
Their gilded collars glittering in the sun;
But is not Doria's menace come to passfB
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 whelmed beneath the waves, and shun,
Even in destruction's depth, her foreign foes,
From whom submission wrings an infamous
Tn 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!10 Vouch it, ye
Immortal waves that saw Lepanto's fight!11
For ye are names no time nor tyranny can
Statues of glass—all shivered—the long file
Of her dead Doges are declined to dust;
But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous
Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust;
(i Here evidently meaning the Bridge of the Rialto
across the (irand Canal. - Othello
s A cbaraeter In Otway's Venice Preferred.
o This Genoese Admiral once threatened to put a
bridle on tbe bronze steeds that adorn St.
10 Crete, once possessed by Venice, but lost again
to the Turks.
11 The battle of Lepanto, 1571, a victory over the
Turks in which Venice took a leading part.
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.
When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse,
And fettered 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'ermastered victor stops, the reins
Fall from his hands, his idle scimitar
Starts from its belt—he rends his captive's
And bidB him thank the bard for freedom and his strains.
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.
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, Raddiffe," Schiller," Shake-
Had stamped 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
Rome. From Canto IV
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
12 It Is said that the Athenian prisoners who
could recite Euripides were set free. Cp. page 233. note S.
13 In The Hyateriet of Udolpho.
14 In The Qhost-Beer.
The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way
O'er steps of broken thrones and temples, Ye!
Whose agonies are evils of a day—
A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.
The Niobe of nations!" there she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe;
An empty urn within her withered hands,
Whose holy dust was scattered 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
The Goth, the Christian, Time, War, Flood, and
Have dealt upon the seven-hilled city's pride;
She saw her glories star by star expire,
And up the steep barbarian monarchs ride,
Where the car climbed the Capitol; far and
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 f
The double night of ages, and of her,
Night's daughter, Ignorance, hath wrapt and
AD round us; we but feel our way to err:
The Ocean hath his chart, the 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 of ruin rises
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's1" 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!
IB The twelve children of Niobe were slain by Apollo. They are the subject of a famous ancient group of statuary.
fan tyrants but by tyrants conquered be,
And Freedom find no champion, and no child,
Such as Columbia saw arise when she
Sprung forth a Pallas, armed and undefiledi
Or must such minds be nourished in the wild,
Deep in the tmprnned forest, 'midst the roar
Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
On infant Washington f Has earth no more
Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no
But France got drunk with blood to vomit crime;
And fatal have her Saturnalia been
To Freedom's cause, in every age and 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.
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,
Chopped by the axe, looks rough and little
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 bitter fruit
The Coliseum. From Canto IV
And here the buzz of eager nations ran,
In murmured pity, or loud-roared applause,
As man was slaughtered by his fellow-man,
And wherefore slaughtered! wherefore, but be-
Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws,
And the imperial pleasure.—Wherefore nott
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
• The Congress of Vienna, the "Holy Alliance" (Into which Wellington would not enter), and the Second Treaty of Paris.—E. H. Coleridge.
I see before me the Gladiator lie:"
He leans upon his hand—his manly brow
Consents to death, but conquers agony,
And his drooped head sinks gradually low—
And through his side the last drops, ebbing
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 hailed
the wretch who won.
He heard it. but he heeded not—his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away:
He recked not of the life he lost nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother—he, their sire,
Butchered to make a Roman holiday—
All this rushed with his blood—Shall he expire
And unavenged? Arise! ye Goths, and glut
But here, where Murder breathed her bloody steam:
And here, where buzzing nations choked the ways,
And roared or murmured 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 crushed, walls bowed— And galleries, where my steps seem echoes strangely loud.
A ruin—yet what ruin! from its mass
Walls, palaces, half-cities, have been reared;
Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass,
And marvel where the spoil could have ap-
Hath it indeed been plundered, or but cleared?
Alas! developed, opens the decay,
When the colossal fabric's form is neared:
It will not bear the brightness of the day,
Which streams too much on all years, man,
have reft away.
17 Suggested by the statue of The Dying Gaul, once supposed to represent a dying gladiator.
But when the rising moon begins to climb
Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there;
When the stars twinkle through the loops of
And the low night-breeze waves along the air
The garland-forest, which the gray walls wear,
Like laurels on the bald first Caesar'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
'' While stands the Coliseum, Borne shall stand; '' When falls the Coliseum Borne shall fall; "And when Borne 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 unaltered all; Borne and her Buin past Bedemption's skill, The World, the same wide den—of thieves,
or what ye will.
The Ocean. From Canto IV
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There iB 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.
Boll 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, unknelled, uncofBned, and
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
is Cesar was glad to cover his baldness with the wreath of laurel which the senate decreed he should wear.
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
The armaments which thunderstrike the walU
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals,
The oak leviathans, 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 mai
Alike the Armada's pride or spoils of Tra-
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee—
Assyria, Greece, Bome, Carthage, what are theyl Thy waters washed 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.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,—
Calm or convulsed, in breeze, or &ale, 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, fathom-
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 wantoned 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
* This grammatical error, occurring In so lofty a passage, Is perhaps the most famous In oar literature. It Is quite characteristic of Byron's negligence or indifference.