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Above his burnt-out brain, and sapless cinders.
This is the literary lower empire,
Where the prætorian bands take up the matter;—
Now, were I once at home, and in good satire,
I think I know a trick or two, would turn
Indeed I've not the necessary bile;
My natural temper's really aught but stern,
And even my Muse's worst reproof 's a smile; And then she drops a brief and modern curtsy, And glides away, assured she never hurts ye.
(CANTO XI, lxxxii—lxxxvi).
TALK not of seventy years as age; in seven
I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to The humblest individual under heaven,
Than might suffice a moderate century through. I knew that nought was lasting, but now even
Change grows too changeable, without being new: Nought's permanent among the human race, Except the Whigs not getting into place.
I have seen Napoleon, who seem'd quite a Jupiter,
If that can well be, than his wooden look.
But it is time that I should hoist my 'blue Peter,' And sail for a new theme:-I have seen-and shook
To see it-the king hiss'd, and then caress'd;
I have seen the Landholders without a rap
I have seen Joanna Southcote-I have seen The House of Commons turn'd to a tax-trap
I have seen that sad affair of the late Queen-I have seen crowns worn instead of a fool's cap
I have seen a Congress doing all that 's mean— I have seen some nations, like o'erloaded asses, Kick off their burthens-meaning the high classes.
But carpe diem,' Juan, 'carpe, carpe !'
I have seen small poets, and great prosers, and
I have seen the funds at war with house and land--
By slaves on horseback-I have seen malt liquors Exchanged for thin potations' by John BullI have seen John half detect himself a fool
And transient, and devour'd by the same harpy. 'Life's a poor player,'-then
Ye villains!' and above all keep a sharp eye
Not what you seem, but always what you see.
play out the
A RUINED ABBEY
(CANTO XIII, lvi-lxiv).
Ir stood embosom'd in a happy valley,
Crown'd by high woodlands, where the Druid oak Stood, like Caractacus, in act to rally
His host, with broad arms 'gainst the thunderstroke; And from beneath his boughs were seen to sally
The dappled foresters; as day awoke,
Before the mansion lay a lucid lake,
Broad as transparent, deep, and freshly fed By a river, which its soften'd way did take
In currents through the calmer water spread Around the wildfowl nestled in the brake And sedges, brooding in their liquid bed: The woods sloped downwards to its brink, and stood With their green faces fix'd upon the flood.
Its outlet dash'd into a deep cascade,
Sparkling with foam, until again subsiding,
Pursued its course, now gleaming, and now hiding Its windings through the woods; now clear, now blue, According as the skies their shadows threw.
A glorious remnant of the Gothic pile
(While yet the church was Rome's) stood half apart In a grand arch, which once screen'd many an aisle. These last had disappear'd-a loss to art: The first yet frown'd superbly o'er the soil,
And kindled feelings in the roughest heart, Which mourn'd the power of time's or tempest's march, In gazing on that venerable arch.
Within a niche, nigh to its pinnacle,
Twelve saints had once stood sanctified in stone; But these had fallen, not when the friars fell,
But in the war which struck Charles from his throne,
When each house was a fortalice-as tell
The annals of full many a line undone,The gallant cavaliers, who fought in vain For those who knew not to resign or reign.
This may be superstition, weak or wild;
But in a higher niche, alone, but crown'd,
The Virgin-Mother of the God-born Child, With her Son in her blessed arms, look'd round,
Spared by some chance when all beside was spoil'd; She made the earth below seem holy ground.
A mighty window, hollow in the centre,
The gale sweeps through its fretwork, and oft sings
The owl his anthem, where the silenced quire
But in the noontide of the moon, and when
Is musical-a dying accent driven Through the huge arch, which soars and sinks again. Some deem it but the distant echo given Back to the night wind by the waterfall, And harmonised by the old choral wall:
Others, that some original shape, or form
Shaped by decay perchance, hath given the power (Though less than that of Memnon's statue, warm In Egypt's rays, to harp at a fix'd hour) To this grey ruin, with a voice to charm,
Sad, but serene, it sweeps o'er tree or tower; The cause I know not, nor can solve; but such The fact:-I've heard it,—once perhaps too much.