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1 Aks: our young affections run to waste,
i Rant at the core, though tempting to the eyes,
'O'er the world's wilderness, and vainly pants
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 bath made thee, as it peopled heaven,
Even with its own desiring phantasy,
And to a thought such shape and image given,
ii haunts the unquench'd soul—parch'd—wearied
Of its own beauty is the mind diseased, And fevers into fake 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 onreach'd Paradise of our despair, Which o'er-informs the pencil and the pen, And overpowers the page where it would bloom again?
Who loves, raves—'t is youth's frenzy—but the cure Ii bitterer still, as charm by charm unwinds Which robed our idols, and we see too sure Sor worth nor beauty dwells from out the mind's Ideal shape of such; yet still it binds I, The fatal spell, and still it draws us on,
Heaping the whirlwind from the oft-sown winds; The stubborn heart, its alchemy begun, [undone. Stems ever near the prize, — wealthiest when most
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 — Bat 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.
CXXV. [loved, Few—none— find what they love or could have | Though accident, blind contact, and the strong Xecessity of loving, have removed Antipathies — but to recur, ere long,
J"At all events," says the author of the Academical Questions, " 1 trust, whatever may be -the fate of my own . Recularions, that philosophy will regain that estimation v^ it ought to possess. Tho free and philosophic spirit tfw nation has been the theme of admiration to the world. IDh was thB proud distinction of Englishmen, and the luawous source of all their glory. Shall we then forget the "ualy and dignified sentiments of our ancestors, to prate in the language of the mother or the nurse about our good old
Envenom'd with irrevocable wrong; And Circumstance, that unspiritual god And miscreator, makes and helps alon^ Our coming evils with a crutch-Uke rod, Whose touch turns Hope to dust, — the dust we all have trod.
Our. life is a false nature — 't is not in
The immedicable soul, with heart-aches ever new.
Yet let us ponder boldly — 't is a base >
• 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't were its natural torches, for divine Should be the light which streams here, to illume This long-explored but still cxhaustless mine Of contemplation; and the azure gloom Of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume
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.
Oh Time! the beautlfler of the dead,
My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a j
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 I 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: ho who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot, Is a fool; and he who dares not, is a slave." Vol. I. pref. p. 14, 15.
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?
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! [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 j To thee I do devote it — thou shalt take The vengeance, which shall yet be sought and fouqd,
"Which if / have not taken for the sake
But let that paw — I sleep, but thou shalt yet awake.
And if my voice break forth, 't is not that now I shrink from what is suffcr'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 I
That curse shall he Forgiveness. — Have I not —
'Sec Appendix, " Historical Notes," No. xxvin.
2 [Between stanzas exxxv. and exxxvi. we find in the original MS. the following : —
"If to forgive tie heaping coals of fire —
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 sigh. Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy. 2
But I have lived, and have not lived in vain; My mind may lose its force, my blond 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 rcmember'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,
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 hut theatres where the chief actors rot
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.
He heard it, but he heeded not — his eyes
3 Whether the wonderful statue which suggested this Image be a laqucarian gladiator, which, in spite of Wioktlmann's criticism, has been Stoutly maintained ; or whether it be a Greek herdd. as that great antiquary positively inserted • ; or whether it is to be thought a Spartan or barba
• Either Polifontes, herald of Laius, killed bv CEdijius; or Ceprens, herald of Euritheus, killed bv the Athenians when he endeavoured to drag the HeracliSie from the altar o! mercy, and in whose honour they Instituted annual games, continued to the time or Hadrian; or Antheinorritus, tin' Athenian herald, killed by the Megarenses, who never recovered the impictv. See Storia delle Arti, &c. tom. iipag.203, 2W, 205, 200, 207. Kb. ix. cap. ii.
There were his young barbarians all at play. There was their Dad*n mother — he, their sire, Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday 1 — All this rush'd with his blood — Shall he expire .lad ouvensed ? — Arise! ye Goths, and glut your Ire:
Hut here, where Murder breathed her bloody steam; Aed here, where buzzing nations choked the ways, led roar'd or murmur'd like a mountain stream Itehing 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 roice sounds much — and fall the stars' faint rays On the arena void—seats crush'd—walls bow'd — .tad galleries, where my steps seem echoes strangely
i ruin—yet what ruin! from its mass Walk, palaces, half-cities, have been rcar'd; let 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, *iich streams too much on all years, man, have reft away.
But when the rising moon begins to climb It; 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 Caesar's head;' When the light shines serene but doth not glare, Then in this magic circle raise the dead: I Heroes have trod this spot — 't is on their dust ye tread.
"While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand;4
Thus spake the pilgrims o'er this mighty wall
raa shield-bearer, according to the opinion of his Italian ; ;it mujt assuredly seem a copy of that masterpiece of CusiUm which represented "a wounded man dying, who ^rkttiy expressed what there remained of life in him." Maitfaucoa and Maffei thought it the identical statue; but &8 static wu of bronze The Gladiator was once in the Villa Ludovlzl, and was bought by Clement XII. The rigid *na ti an entire restoration of Michael Angclo. I '.' S« Appendix, " Historical Notes," Nos. xxix. xxx. 1 Suetonius informs us that Julius Casar was particularly traced by that decree of the senate which enabled him to vrcr a wreath of laurel on all occasions. He was anxious, to show that he was the conqueror of the world, but to [•■ that he was bald. A stranger at Home would hardly ye fumed at the motire, nor should we without the help | * lac historian.
4 This is quoted in the " Decline and Fall of the Roman tirfire," as a proof that the Coliseum was entire, when seen TM taf* Anglo-Saxon pilgrims at the end of the seventh, or t-e beginning of the eighth, century. A notice on the Colt, "en may be teen in the '• Historical Illustrations," p. 203.
J * * Though plundered of all its brass, except the ring
Rome and her Ruin past Redemption's skill, The World, the same wide den — of thieves, or what ye will.
Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime —
Shiver upon thee — sanctuary and home
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.6
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 sec 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?
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,
which was necessary to preserve the aperture above; though exposed to repeated tires , 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 Angclo, ever studious of ancient beauty, introduced ] their design as a model in the Catholic church." — Forsyth's Italy, p. 137. 2d edit.
"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 assemblage of mortals, some one or two of whom have been almost deified by the veneration of their countrymen. For a notice of the Pantheon, sec " Historical Illustrations," 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 Carcerc. The difficulties: attending the full belief of the tale are stated in " Historical Illustrations," p. 21*5.
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 Are 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.
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.
Turn to the mole which Hadrian rear'd on high,1 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 gaxer's eye with philosophic mirth, [birth 1 To view the huge design which sprung from such a
But lo! the dome—the vast and wondrous dome, 2 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 hyama 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;
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 undented.
'The castle of St. Angelo. •' See Historical Illustrations."
3 [Tills and the six next stanzas have a reference to the church of SL Peter's. For a measurement of the comparative length of this basilica and the other great churches of Europe, see the pavement of SL Peter's, and the Classical Tiiur through Italy, vol. ii. p. 125. ct seq. ch.lv.]
3 [" I remember very well," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, my own disappointment when I first visited the Vatican; but on confessing 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 relici 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 raptures on first beholding them My not relishing them as I
Enter: its grandeur overwhelms thee not; *
Thou movest — but increasing with the advance,
Sits on the firm-set ground — and this the clouds
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,
Not by its fault — but thine: Our outward sense Is but of gradual grasp—and as it is That what wc have of feeling most intense Outstrips our faint expression; even so this Outshining and o'envhelming 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 sixe of that they contemplate.
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.
was conscious I ought to have done, was one of the most humiliating circumstances that ever happened tome; 1 found myself in tho 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 1 had brought with me from England, where tho 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 expressed 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 merit 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 1 was convinced that 1 had originally formed a false opinion of the perfection of the art, ana that this great painter was well entitled to the high rank which he holds in the admiration of the world."3
ir, taming to the Vatican, go see Laocoiin's torture dignifying pain — i father's love and mortal's agony With an immortal's patience blending: —Vain Tie straggle; vain, against the coiling strain Isi gripe, and deepening of the dragon's grasp, Tie old man's clench; the long envenom'd chain tmts the living links, — the enormous asp In&roes pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp.
Or view the Lord of the unerring bow, Tie God of life, and poesy, and light — The Sun in human limbs array'd, and brow Ail 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, Dr.tkiping in that one glance the Deity.
Bat in his delicate form —a dream of Love, Saaped by some solitary nymph, whose breast Long'd for a deathless lover from above, lad madden'd in that vision—are exprest ill that ideal beauty ever bless'd The mind with in its most unearthly mood, "phen each conception was a heavenly guest— A ray of immortality—and stood artike, around, until they gather'd to a god!
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
Bat where is he, the Pilgrim of my song, The being who upheld it through the past? Hethioks he cometh late and tarries long. He is no more — these breathings are his last; Bis 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 — Ha shadow fades away into Destruction's mass,
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,
Tin Glory's self is twilight, and displays
A melancholy halo scarce aiiow'd
1 C The death of the Princess Charlotte has been a shock Tea here (Venice), and must have been an earthquake at r-'Jffle. The fate of this poor girl is melancholy in every rsrpect; dying at twenty or so, in childbed — of a boy too, a
To hover on the verge of Sadder than saddest night, for they distract the
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 [was gore. These fardels of the heart—the heart whose sweat
Hark! forth from the abyss a voice proceeds,
The gulf is thick with phantoms, but the chief
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 w ■ w'tn thee fled The present happiness and promised joy Which fill'd the imperial isles so full it seem'd to cloy.
Peasants bring forth in safety. —Can it be, Oh thou that wert so happy, so adored 1 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 1 The husband of a year! the father of the dead!
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 entrust Futurity to her! and, though it must Darken above our bones, yet fondly dcem'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.
Woe unto us, not her 1; for she sleeps well:
present princess and future queen, and just as she began to be happy, and to enjoy herself, and the hopes which she in. spired. 1 feci sorry in every respect." — Byron Lctteri.]