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CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
Visto ho Toscana, Lombardia, Romagna,
Quel Monte che divide, e quel che serra
Italia, e un mare e l'altro, che la bagna.
ARIOSTO, Satira iii.
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, throned on her hundred isles !
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 robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increased.
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!
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, can not be swept or worn away-
The keystones of the arch! though all were o'er,
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 died, And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.
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, may be, 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 :
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 over-weening phantasies unsound,
And other voices speak, and other sights surround.
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,
Perhaps I loved 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
land's language: if too fond and far Thiese aspirations in their scope incline,
If my fame should be, as my fortunes are,
Of hasty growth and blight, and dull oblivion bar
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.» Á
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.
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 5
Stand, but in mockery of his wither'd power,
Over the proud place where an emperor sued,
And monarchs gazed and envied in the hour
When Venice was a queen with an unequall'd dower.
The Şuabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns—6
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! 7
Th' octogenarian chief, Byzantium’s conquering foe.
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 ? 8
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.