« PreviousContinue »
XXVII. The moon is up, and yet it is not night— Sunset divides the sky with her—a sea Of glory streams along the Alpine height Of blue Friuli's mountains; Heaven is free From clouds, but of all colours seems to be Melted to one vast Iris of the West, where the Day joins the past Eternity; While, on the other hand, meek Dian's crest Floats through the azure air—an island of the blest : 1 - XXVIII. A single star is at her side, and reigns . With her o'er half the lovely heaven; but still I Yon sunny sea heaves brightly, and remains Roll'd o'er the peak of the far Rhaetian hill, As Day and Night contending were, until Nature reclaim'd her order: — gently flows The deep-dyed Brenta, where their hues instil The odorous purple of a new-born rose, Which streams upon her stream, and glass'd within it glows, XXIX. Fill'd with the face of heaven, which, from afar, Comes down upon the waters; all its hues, From the rich sunset to the rising star, Their magical variety diffuse : And now they change; a paler shadow strews Its mantle o'er the mountains ; parting day Dies like the dolphin, whom each pang imbues With a new colour as it gasps away, The last still loveliest, till—'tis gone—and all is gray.
XXXII. And the soft quiet hamlet where he dwelt 4 Is one of that complexion which seems made For those who their mortality have felt, And sought a refuge from their hopes decay'd In the deep umbrage of a green hill's shade, Which shows a distant prospect far away Of busy cities, now in vain display'd, For they can lure no further; and the ray Of a bright sun can make sufficient holiday,
XXXIII. Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers, And shining in the brawling brook, where-by, Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours With a calm languor, which, though to the cye Idlesse it seem, hath its morality. If from society we learn to live, 'Tis solitude should teach us how to die; It hath no flatterers; vanity can give - No hollow aid; alone — man with his God must strive: XXXIV. Or, it may be, with demons, who impair 5 The strength of better thoughts, and seek their prey In melancholy bosoms, such as were Of moody texture from their earliest day, And loved to dwell in darkness and dismay, Deeming themselves predestined to a doom Which is not of the pangs that pass away; Making the sun like blood, the earth a tomb, The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom.
XXXV. Ferrara 6 in thy wide and grass-grown streets, Whose symmetry was not for solitude, There seems as 't were a curse upon the seats Of former sovereigns, and the antique brood Of Este, which for many an age made good Its strength within thy walls, and was of yore 'Patron or tyrant, as the changing mood Of petty power impell'd, of those who wore The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn before.
XXXVI. And Tasso is their glory and their shame. Hark to his strain and then survey his cell And see how dearly earn'd Torquato's fame, And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell: The miserable despot could not quell The insulted mind he sought to quench, and blend With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell Where he had plunged it. Glory without end Scatter'd the clouds away—and on that name attend
the temptation of our Saviour, And our unsullied John ke preferred the presence of a child to complete solitude. * [In April, 1817, Lord Byron visited Ferrara, went over the castle, cell, &c., and wrote, a few days after, the Lament of Tasso. —“ One of the Ferrarese asked me,” he says, in a letter to a friend, “if I knew Lord Byron,' an acquaintance of his, now at Naples. I told him “No which was true both ways, for I knew not the impostor ; and, in the other, no one knows himself. He stared, when told that I was the real Simon Pure. Another asked me, if I had not translated Tasso. You see what Fane is ; how accurate how boundless I don't know how others feel, but I am always the lighter and the better looked on when I have got rid of mine. It sits on me like armour on the Lord Mayor's champion , and I got rid of all the husk of literature, and the attendant babble, by answering that I had not translated Tasso, but a namesake had : and, by the blessin: of Heaven, I looked so little like a poet, that every body believed me."]
XXXVII. The tears and praises of all time; while thine Would rot in its oblivion — in the sink Of worthless dust, which from thy boasted line Is shaken into nothing; but the link Thou formest in his fortunes bids us think Of thy poor malice, naming thee with scorn— Alfonso how thy ducal pageants shrink From thee : if in another station born, Scarce fit to be the slave of him thou mad'st to mourn: XXXVIII. " Thou ! form'd to eat, and be despised, and die, Even as the beasts that perish, save that thou Hadst a more splendid trough and wider sty: He with a glory round his furrow'd brow, Which emanated then, and dazzles now, In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire, And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow 1 No strain which shamed his country's creaking lyre, That whetstone of the teeth—monotony in wire :
XXXIX. Peace to Torquato's injured shade : 't was his In life and death to be the mark where Wrong Aim'd with her poison'd arrows; but to miss. Oh, victor unsurpass'd in modern song : Each year brings forth its millions; but how long The tide of generations shall roll on, And not the whole combined and countless throng Compose a mind like thine 7 though all in one Condensed their scatter'd rays, they would not form a sun. XL. Great as thou art, yet parallel'd by those, Thy countrymen, before thee born to shine, The Bards of Hell and Chivalry : first rose The Tuscan father's comedy divine; - Then, not unequal to the Florentine, The southern Scott 2, the minstrel who call'd forth A new creation with his magic line, And, like the Ariosto of the North, 3 Sang ladye-love and war, romance and knightly worth.
XLI. The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust 4 The iron crown of laurel's mimic'd leaves; Nor was the ominous element unjust. For the true laurel-wreath which Glory weaves
! See Appendix, “Historical Notes,” No. x.
* [“Scott,” says Lord Byron, in his Ms. Diary, for 1821, “is certainly the most wonderful writer of the day. His novels are a new literature in themselves, and his poetry as good as any – if not better (only on an erroneous system, and only ceased to be so popular, because the vulgar were tired of hearing “Aristides called the Just," and Scott the Best, and ostracised him. I know no reading to which I fall with such alacrity as a work of his. I love him, too, for his manliness of character, for the extreme pleasantness of his conversation, and his good-nature towards myself personally. May he prosper : for he deserves it.” In a letter, written to Sir Walter, from Pisa, in 1822, he says – “I owe to you far more than the usual obligation for the courtesies of literature and common friendship ; for you went out of your way, in 1817. to do me a service, when it required not merely kindness, but courage, to do so , to have been recorded by you in such a manner, would have been a proud memorial at any time ; but at such a time, when All the world and his wife," as the proverb goes, were trying to trample upon me, was something still higher to my self-esteem. Isad it been a common criticism, however eloquent or panegyrical, I should have felt pleased and grateful, but not to the extent which the extraordinary good-heartedness of the whole proceeding must induce in any mind capable of such sensations."]
Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves, 5 And the false semblance but disgraced his brow; Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves, Know, that the lightning sanctifies below 6 Whate'er it strikes; —yon head is doubly sacred now.
XLII. Italia t oh Italia : thou who hast The fatal gift of beauty, which became A funeral dower of present woes and past, On thy sweet brow is sorrow plough’d by shame, And annals graved in characters of flame. Oh, God ... that thou wert in thy nakedness Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress;
XLIII. Then might'st thou more appal; or, less desired, Be hornely and be peaceful, undeplored - For thy destructive charms; then, still untired, Would not be seen the armed torrents pour'd Down the deep Alps; nor would the hostile horde Of many-nation'd spoilers from the Po Quaff blood and water; nor the stranger's sword Be thy sad weapon of defence, and so, Victor or vanquish'd, thou the slave of friend or foe.7
XLIV. Wandering in youth, I traced the path of him, 8 The Roman friend of Rome's least-mortal mind, The friend of Tully: as my bark did skim The bright blue waters with a fanning wind, Came Megara before me, and behind AEgina lay, Piraeus on the right, And Corinth on the left; I lay reclined Along the prow, and saw all these unite In ruin, even as he had seen the desolate sight; –
XLV. For Time hath not rebuilt them, but uprear'd Barbaric dwellings on their shatter'd site, Which only make more mourn’d and more endear'd The few last rays of their far-scatter'd light, And the crush'd relics of their vanish'd might. The Roman saw these tombs in his own age, These sepulchres of cities, which excite Sad wonder, and his yet surviving page
The moral lesson bears, drawn from such pilgrimage.
* [“I do not know whether Scott will like it, but I have called him “the Ariosto of the North in my text. If he should not, say so in time.”— Lord Byron to Mr. Murray, Aug. 1817.]
*, *, * See Appendix, “Historical Notes, " Nos. XI. xii. xiii.
7. The two stanzas xlii. and xliii. are, with the exception of a line or two, a translation of the famous sonnet of Filicaja: —“ Italia, Italia, O tu cui feo la sorte . "
* The celebrated letter of Servius Sulpicius to Cicero, on the death of his daughter, describes as it then was, and now is, a path which I often traced in Greece, both by sea and land, in different journeys and voyages. “On my return from Asia, as I was sailing from Egina towards Megara, I began to contemplate the prospect of the countries around me: Egina was behind, Megara before me: Piraeus on the right, Corinth on the left : all which towns, once famous and flourishing, now lie overturned and buried in their ruins. o this sight, I could not but think presently within myself, Alas! how do we poor mortals fret and vex ourselves if any of our friends happen to die or be killed, whose life is yet so short, when the carcasses of so many noble cities lie here exposed before me in one view. – Sce Middlcton's Cicero, vol. ii. p. 371.
CAN to IV.
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
* In 1817, Lord Byron visited Florence, on his way to Rome. “I remained,” he says, “but a day : however, I went to the two galleries, from which one returns drunk with beauty. The Venus is more for admiration than love ; but there are sculpture and painting, which, for the first time, at all gave me an idea of what people mean by their cant about those two most artificial of the arts. What struck me most were, the mistress of Raphael, a portrait; the mistress of Titian, a portrait ; a Venus of Titian in the Medici Gallery; the Venus ; Canova's Venus, also, in the other gallery: Titian's mistress is also in the other gallery (that is, in the Pitti Palace gallery); the Parcae of Michael Angelo, a picture; and the Antinous, the Alexander, and one or two not very decent groups in narble; the Genius of Death, a sleepinz figure, &c. &c. I also went to the Medici chapel. Fine frippery in great slabs of various expensive stones, to commemorate fifty rotten and forgotten carcasses. It is unfinished, and will remain so.” We find the following note of a second visit to the galleries in 1821, accompanied by the author of * The Pleasures of Memory: ”—“My former impressions were confirmed ; but there were too many visitors to allow me to feel any thing properly. When we were (about thirty or forty) all stuffed into the cabinet of gems and knickknackeries, in a corner of one of the galleries, I told Rogers that ‘it felt like being in the watch-house.' I heard one bold Briton declare to the woman on his arm, looking at the Venus of Titian, ‘Well, now, that is really very fine indeed ' ' – an observation which, like that of the landlord in Joseph Andrews, on “the certainty of death,’ was (as the landlord's wife observed) “extremely true." In the Pitti Palace, I did not onit Goldsmith's prescription for a connoisseur, viz. ' that
* [The delight with which the pilgrim contemplates the ancient Greek statues at Florence, and afterwards at Rome, is such as might have been expected from any great t, whose youthful mind had, like his, been imbued with those ...A. ideas and associations which afford so many sources of pleasure, through every period of life. He has gazed upon these masterpieces of art with a more susceptible, and, in spite of his disavowal, with a more learned eye, than can be traced in the effusions of any poet who had previously expressed, in any formal manner, his admiration of their beauty. It may appear fanciful to say so; – but we think the genius of Byron is, more than that of any other modern poet, akin to that peculiar genius which seems to have been diffused among ail the poets and artists of ancient Greece; and in whose spirit, above all its other wonders, the great specimens of sculpture seem to have been conceived and executed. His creations, whether of beauty or of strength, are all single creations. He requires no #." ing to give effect to his favourites, or to tell his story. is heroines are solitary symbols of loveliness, which require no foil ; his heroes stand alone as upon marble pedestals, displaying the naked power of passion, or the wrapped up and reposing energy of grief. The artist who would illustrate, as it is called, the works of any of our other poets, must borrow the mimic splendours of the pencil. He who would transfer into another vehicle the spirit of Byron, must pour the liquid metal, or hew the stubborn rock. What he loses in ease, he will gain in power. He might draw from Medora, Gulnare, Lara, or Manfred, subjects for relievos, worthy of enthusiasm almost as great as Harold has himself displayed on the contemplation of the loveliest, and the sternest relics of the inimitable genius of the Greeks. – Wilsox.]
That music in itself, whose sounds are song, i The poetry of speech 7 No; — even his tomb | Uptorn, must bear the hyaena bigot's wrong, No more amidst the meaner dead find room, Nor claim a passing sigh, because it told for whom 1
LIX. And Santa Croce wants their mighty dust; Yet for this want more noted, as of yore The Caesar's pageant, shorn of Brutus' bust, Did but of Rome's best Son remind her more: Happier Ravenna : on thy hoary shore, Fortress of falling empire honour'd sleeps The immortal exile; — Arqua, too, her store Of tuneful relics proudly claims and keeps,[weeps. While Florence vainly begs her banish'd dead and
LX. What is her pyramid of precious stones? 9 Of porphyry, jasper, agate, and all hues Of gem and marble, to encrust the bones Of merchant-dukes 2 the momentary dews Which, sparkling to the twilight stars, infuse Freshness in the green turf that wraps the dead, Whose names are mausoleums of the Muse, Are gently prest with far more reverent tread Than ever paced the slab which paves the princely head. ||
LXI. There be more things to greet the heart and eyes In Arno's dome of Art's most princely shrine, Where Sculpture with her rainbow sister vies; There be more marvels yet—but not for mine; For I have been accustom'd to entwine My thoughts with Nature rather in the fields, Than Art in galleries: though a work divine Calls for my spirit's homage, yet it yields Less than it feels, because the weapon which it wields
LXII. Is of another temper, and I roam By Thrasimene's lake, in the defiles Fatal to Roman rashness, more at home; For there the Carthaginian's warlike wiles Come back before me, as his skill beguiles The host between the mountains and the shore, Where Courage falls in her despairing files, And torrents, swoll'n to rivers with their gore, Reek through the sultryplain, with legions scattered o'er,
LXIII. Like to a forest fell'd by mountain winds; And such the storm of battle on this day, And such the frenzy, whose convulsion blinds To all save carnage, that, beneath the fray, An earthquake reel'd unheededly away : 10 None felt stern Nature rocking at his feet, And yawning forth a grave for those who lay Upon their bucklers for a winding sheet; (meet Such is the absorbing hate when warring nations
That of Alfieri is heavy: and all of them seem to be overloaded. What is necessary but a bust and name 2 and perhaps a date 2 the last for the unchronological, of whom I am one. But all your allegory and eulogy is infernal, and worse than the long wigs of English numskulls upon Roman bodies, in the statuary of the reigns of Charles the Second, William, and Anne." — Byron Letters, 1817.] *, *, *, * See Appendix, “Historical Notes,” Nos. xviii. xix. xx. and xxi. * See Appendix, “Historical Notes,” No. xxii. 10 See Appendix, “Historical Notes,” No. xxiii. — ran earthquake which shook all Italy occurred during the battle, and was unfelt by any of the combatants.]
* [" The lovely peaceful mirror reflected the mountains of Monte Pulciana, and the wild fowl skimming its ample surface, touched the waters with their rapid wings, leaving circles and trains of light to glitter in gray repose. As we moved along, one set of interesting features yielded to another, and every change excited new delight. Yet, was it not amon these tranquil scenes that Hannibal and Flaminius met Was not the blush of blood upon the silver lake of Thrasimene 2"– H. W. Willi Axis.] * No book of travels has omitted to expatiate on the temple of the Clitumnus, between Foligno and Spoleto ; and no site, or scenery, even in Italy, is more worthy a description. For an account of the dilapidation of this temple, the reader is referred to “Historical lllustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold," p. 35. * : * This pretty little gem stands on the acclivity of a bank overlooking its crystal waters, which have their source at the distance of some hundred yards towards Spoleto. The temple, fronting the river, is of an oblong form, in the Corinthian order. Four columns support the pediment, the shafts of which are covered in spiral lines, and in forms to represent the scales of fishes : the bases, too, are richly sculptured. Within the building is a chapel, the waii, of which are covered with many hundred names; but we saw none which we could recognise as British. Can it be that this classical o: is seldorn visited by our countrymen, though celebrated by Dryden and Addison 2 To future travellers from Britain it will surely be rendered interesting by the beautiful lines of Lord Byron, flowing as sweetly as the lovely stream which they describe.” – H. W. Williaxis.] * [Perhaps there are no verses in our language of happier descriptive power than the two stanzas which characterise the Clitumnus. In general poets find it so difficult to leave an
LXVIII. Pass not unblest the Genius of the place If through the air a zephyr more serene Win to the brow, 'tis his; and if ye trace Along his margin a more eloquent green, If on the heart the freshness of the scene Sprinkle its coolness, and from the dry dust Of weary life a moment lave it clean With Nature's baptism, -'tis to him ye must Pay orisons for this suspension of disgust. “
LXIX. The roar of waters 1—from the headlong height Velino cleaves the wave-worn precipice; The fall of waters rapid as the light The flashing mass foams shaking the abyss; The hell of waters 1 where they howl and hiss, And boil in endless torture; while the sweat Of their great agony, wrung out from this Their Phlegethon, curls round the rocks of jet That gird the gulf around, in pitiless horror set,
LXX. And mounts in spray the skies, and thence again Returns in an unceasing shower, which round, With its unemptied cloud of gentle rain, Is an eternal April to the ground, Making it all one emerald : — how profound The gulf I and how the giant element From rock to rock leaps with delirious bound, Crushing the cliffs, which, downward worn and rent [vent With his fierce footsteps, yield in chasms a fearful
LXXI. To the broad column which rolls on, and shows More like the fountain of an infant sea Torn from the womb of mountains by the throes Of a new world, than only thus to be Parent of rivers, which flow gushingly, [back With many windings, through the vale: — Look Lo where it comes like an eternity, As if to sweep down all things in its track, Charming the eye with dread, - a matchless cataract, *
interesting subject, that they injure the distinctness of the description by loading it so as to embarrass, rather than excite, the fancy of the reader ; or else, to avoid that fault, they confine themselves to cold and abstract generalities. Byron has, in these stanzas, admirably steered his course betwixt these extremes: while they present the outlines of a picture as pure and as brilliant as those of Claude Lorraine, the task of filling up the more minute particulars is judiciousl
left to the imagination of the reader ; and it must be dull indeed if it does not supply what the poet has left unsaid, or but generally and briefly intimated. While the eye glances over the lines, we seem to feel the refreshing coolness of the scene— we hear the bubbling tale of the more rapid streams, and see the slender proportions of the rural temple reflected in the crystal depth of l. calm pool. — Sir WALT 1: a Scott.]
* I saw the Cascata del Marmore of Terni twice, at different periods; once from the summit of the precipice, and again from the valley below. The lower view is far to be preferred, if the traveller has time for one only; but in any point of view, either from above or below, it is worth all the cascades and torrents of Switzerland put together: the Staubach, Reichenbach, Pisse Vache, fail of Arpenaz, &c. are rills in comparative appearance. Of the fall of Schaffhausen I cannot speak, not yet having seen it. — [“The stunning sound, the mist, uncertainty, and tremendous depth, bewildered the senses for a time, and the eye had little rest from the impe: tuous and hurrying waters, to search into the mysterious and whitened gulf, which presented, through a cloud of spray, the apparitions, as it were, of rocks and overhanging wood. The wind, however, would sometimes remove for an instant this misty veil, and display such a scene of havoc as appalled the soul.”-H. W. Williasisi