« AnteriorContinuar »
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 poison; such the plants Which spring beneath her steps as Passion fies
O'er the world's wilderness, and vainly pants For some celestial fruit forbidden to our wants.
Envenom'd with irrevocable wrong ;
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 - 't is 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.
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 seized ? 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?
CXXVII. Yet let us ponder boldly 't is a base 1 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 unprepared mind, [blind. The beam pours in, for time and skill will couch the
CXXIII. . Who loves, raves - 't is 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 oft-sown winds;
The stubborn heart, its alchemy begun, (undone. Seems ever near the prize, - wealthiest when most
Of contemplation; and the azure gloom
CXXIV. We wither from our youth, we gasp away — — (thirst, Sick — sick; unfound the boon - unslaked the 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— 't is the same, Each idle - and all ill — and none the worst
For all are meteors with a different name, And Death the sable smoke where vanishes the flame.
CXXIX. Hues which have words, and speak to ye of hcaven, 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.
(loved, Few - none find what they love or could have Though accident, blind contact, and the strong Necessity of loving, have removed Antipathies - but to recur, ere long, I" At all events," says the author of the Academical Questions, “I trust, whateves may be the fate of my own speculations, that philosophy will regain that estimation which it ought to possess. The free and philosophic spirit of our nation has been the theme of admiration to the world. This was the proud distinction of Englishmen, and the lu. minous source of all their glory. Shall wc then forget the manly and dignified sentiments of our ancestors, to prate in the language of the mother or the nurse about our good old
Time, the avenger ! unto thee I lift [gift: My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a prejudices ? This is not the way to defend the cause of truth. It was not thus that our fathers maintained it in the brilliant periods of our history. Prejudice may be trusted to guard the outworks for a short space of time, while reason slumbers in the citadel; but if the latter sink into a lethargy, the former will quickly erect a standard for herself. Philosophy, wisdom, and liberty support each other: he who will
he who cannot, is a fool; and he who dares not, is a slave.'
not reason is a bigot; hool.i. pref. p. 14, 15.
CXXXI. Amidst this wreck, where thou hast made a shrine And temple more divinely desolate, Among thy inightier 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 get 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! (must. Dost thou not hear my heart? — Awake!thou shalt, and
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.
From the loud roar of foaming calumny
And without utterance, save the shrug or sigh,
Shall on their soften'd spirits sink, and move
That we become a part of what has been,
Of worms - on battle-plains or listed spot ?
The deep prophetic fulness of this verse,
Because not altogether of such clay
he is gone,
1 See Appendix, “ Historical Notes," No. XXVIII.
? [Between stanzas cxxxv. and cxxxvi. we find in the original MS. the following:
“ If to forgive be heaping coals of fire
As God hath spoken - on the heads of foes,
The Lion may be goaded by the Gnat. –
3 Whether the wonderful statue which suggested this image be a laquearian gladiator, which, in spite of Winkelmann's criticism, has been stoutly maintained; or whether it be a Greek herald, as that great intiquary positively as. serted; or whether it is to be thought a Spartan or barba
• Either Polifontes, herald of Laius, killed by @dipus ; or Cepreas, herald of Euritheus, killed by the Athenians when he endeavoured to drag the Heraclide from the altar of mercy, and in whose honour they instituted annual games, continued to the time of Hadrinn : or Anthemocritus, the Athenian herald, killed by the Megarcnses, who never recorered the inpiety. Sre Storia delle Arti, &c. tom. ii. pag. 203, 204, 205, 206, 207. lib. ix, cap. ii.
rian shield-bearer, according to the opinion of his Italian editor ; it must assuredly seem a copy of that masterpiece of Ctesilaus which represented "a wounded man dying, who perfectly expressed what there remained of life in him." Montfaucoa and Maffei thought it the identical statue ; but that statue was of bronze. The Gladiator was once in the Villa Ludovizi, and was bought by Clement XII. The right arra is an entire restoration of Michael Angelo.
1, ? See Appendix, “ Historical Notes," Nos. XXIX. XXX.
3 Suetonius informs is that Julius Cesar was particularly gratised by that decree of the senata which enabled him to wear a wreath of laurel on all occasions. He was anxious, ant to show that he was the conqueror of the world, but to hide that he was bald. A stranger at Rome would hardly have guessed at the motive, nor should we without the help of the historian.
• This is quoted in the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," as a proof that the Coliseum was entire, when scen by the Anglo-Saxon pilgrims at the end of the seventh, or the bezinning of the eighth, century. A notice on the Coli. seum may be seen in the “ Historical Illustrations," p. 263.
** Though plundered of all its brass, except the ring
which was necessary to preserve the aperture above; though exposed to repeated fires ; though sometimes flooded by the river, and always open to the rain, no monument of equal antiquity is so well preserved as this rotundo. It passed with little alteration from the Pagan into the present worship; and so convenient were its niches for the Christian altar, that Michael Angelo, ever studious of ancient beauty, introduced their design as a model in the Catholic church." - Forsyth's Italy, p. 137. 2d edit.
6 The Pantheon has been made a receptacle for the busts of modern great, or, at least, distinguished, men. The flood of light which once fell through the large orb above on the whole circle of divinities, now shines on a numerous assem. blage of mortals, some one or two of whom hare been almost deified by the veneration of their countrymen. For a notice of the Pantheon, see “ Historical Ilustrations," p. 287.
7 This and the three next stanzas allude to the story of the Roman daughter, which is recalled to the traveller by the site, or pretended site, of that adventure, now shown at the church of St. Nicholas in Carcere. The difficulties attending the full belief of the tale are stated in “ Historicai Illustra. tions," p. 295.
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 decp 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 nursc! No drop of that clear stream its way shall miss
To thy sirc'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, 1 Imperial mimic of old Egypt's piles, Colossal copyist of deformity, Whose traveli'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 eye with philosophic mirth, [birth ! To view the huge design which sprung from such a
See thy God face to face, as thou dost now
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;
(flame Rich marbles — richer painting — shrines where The lamps of gold — and haughty dome which vies In air with Earth's chief structures, though their frame
(must claim. Sits on the firm-set ground — and this the clouds
In mighty graduations, part by part,
CLIII. But lo! the dome — the vast and wondrous dome, 2 To which Diana's marvel was a cell — Christ's mighty surine above his martyr's tomb ! I have beheld the Ephesian's miracle Its columns strew the wilderness, and dwc!! The hyæna 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;
CLVIII. Not by its fault but thine: Our outward scuse 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.
Power, Glory, Strength, and Beauty, all are aisled In this eternal ark of worship undefiled.
CLIX. 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.
1 The castle of St. Angelo.“ See Historical Ilustrations."
? [This and the six next stanzas have a reference to the church of St. Peter's. For a measurement of the comparative length of this basilica and the other great churches of Europe, see the pavement of St. Peter's, and the Classical Tour through Italy, vol. ii. p. 125. et seq. ch. iv.]
(" I remember very well," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, “my own disappointment when I first visited the Vatican but on consessing, my feelings to a brother student, of whose ingenuousness I had a high opinion, he acknowledged that the works of Raphael had the same effect on him, or rather that they did not produce the effect which he expected. This was a great reliet' to my mind; and, on inquiring further of other students. I found that those persons only who, from natural imbecility, appeared to be incapable of relishing those divine performances, made pretensions to instantaneous rap, tures on first beholding them.-My not relishing them as I
was conscious I ought to have done, was one of the most humiliating circumstances that ever happened to me; I found myself in the midst of works executed upon principles with which I was unacquainted : I felt my ignorance, and stood abashed. All the indigested notions of painting which I had brought with me from England, where the art was in the lowest state it had ever been in, were to be totally done away and eradicated from my mind. It was necessary, as it is ex. pressed on a very solemn occasion, that I should become as a little child. Notwithstanding my disappointment, I proceeded to copy some of those excellent works. I viewed them again and again ; I even affected to feel their perit and admire them more than I really did. In a short time, a new taste and a new perception began to dawn upon me, and I was convinced that I had originally formed a inlse opinion of the perfection of the art, and that this great painter was well en. titled to the high rank which he holds in the admiration of the world."]
One ringlet in the dust - nor hath it caught
't was 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,
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 Oxe; for she had pour'd Her orisons for thee, and o'er thy head Bebeld her Iris. — Thou, too, lonely lord,
And desolate consort — vainly wert thou wed !
Her and her hoped-for seed, whose promise seem'd Like stars to shepherds' eyes : —'t was but a meteor beam'd.
CLXV. Which gathers shadow, substance, life, and all That we inherit in its mortal shroud, And spreads the dim and universal pall (cloud Through which all things grow phantoms ; and the Between us sinks and all which ever glow'd, Tiu Glory's self is twilight, and displays A melancholy halo scarce allow'd
. [The death of the Princess Charlotte has been a shock eren here (Venice), and must have been an carthquake at borne. The fate of this poor girl is melancholy in every respect; dying at twenty or so, in childbed - of a boy too, a
present princess and future queen, and just as she began to be happy, and to enjoy herseli, and the hopes which she inspired." ' I feel sorry in every respect." - Byron Letters.]