Lord Byron

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Canto 04. (100-186)

C. But who was she, the lady of the dead, Tombed in a palace? Was she chaste and fair? Worthy a king's—or more—a Roman's bed? What race of chiefs and heroes did she bear? What daughter of her beauties was the heir? How lived—how loved—how died she? Was she not So honoured—and conspicuously there, Where meaner relics must not dare to rot, Placed to commemorate a more than mortal lot? CI. Was she as those who love their lords, or they Who love the lords of others? such have been Even in the olden time, Rome's annals say. Was she a matron of Cornelia's mien, Or the light air of Egypt's graceful queen, Profuse of joy; or 'gainst it did she war, Inveterate in virtue? Did she lean To the soft side of the heart, or wisely bar Love from amongst her griefs?—for such the affections are. CII. Perchance she died in youth: it may be, bowed With woes far heavier than the ponderous tomb That weighed upon her gentle dust, a cloud Might gather o'er her beauty, and a gloom In her dark eye, prophetic of the doom Heaven gives its favourites—early death; yet shed A sunset charm around her, and illume With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead, Of her consuming cheek the autumnal leaf-like red. CIII. Perchance she died in age—surviving all, Charms, kindred, children—with the silver grey On her long tresses, which might yet recall, It may be, still a something of the day When they were braided, and her proud array And lovely form were envied, praised, and eyed By Rome—But whither would Conjecture stray? Thus much alone we know—Metella died, The wealthiest Roman's wife: Behold his love or pride! CIV. I know not why—but standing thus by thee It seems as if I had thine inmate known, Thou Tomb! and other days come back on me With recollected music, though the tone Is changed and solemn, like the cloudy groan Of dying thunder on the distant wind; Yet could I seat me by this ivied stone Till I had bodied forth the heated mind, Forms from the floating wreck which ruin leaves behind; CV. And from the planks, far shattered o'er the rocks, Built me a little bark of hope, once more To battle with the ocean and the shocks Of the loud breakers, and the ceaseless roar Which rushes on the solitary shore Where all lies foundered that was ever dear: But could I gather from the wave-worn store Enough for my rude boat, where should I steer? There woos no home, nor hope, nor life, save what is here. CVI. Then let the winds howl on! their harmony Shall henceforth be my music, and the night The sound shall temper with the owlet's cry, As I now hear them, in the fading light Dim o'er the bird of darkness' native site, Answer each other on the Palatine, With their large eyes, all glistening grey and bright, And sailing pinions.—Upon such a shrine What are our petty griefs?—let me not number mine. CVII. Cypress and ivy, weed and wallflower grown Matted and massed together, hillocks heaped On what were chambers, arch crushed, column strown In fragments, choked-up vaults, and frescoes steeped In subterranean damps, where the owl peeped, Deeming it midnight:—Temples, baths, or halls? Pronounce who can; for all that Learning reaped From her research hath been, that these are walls— Behold the Imperial Mount! 'tis thus the mighty falls. CVIII. There is the moral of all human tales: 'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past, First Freedom, and then Glory—when that fails, Wealth, vice, corruption—barbarism at last. And History, with all her volumes vast, Hath but ONE page,—'tis better written here, Where gorgeous Tyranny hath thus amassed All treasures, all delights, that eye or ear, Heart, soul could seek, tongue ask—Away with words! draw near, CIX. Admire, exult—despise—laugh, weep—for here There is such matter for all feeling:—Man! Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear, Ages and realms are crowded in this span, This mountain, whose obliterated plan The pyramid of empires pinnacled, Of Glory's gewgaws shining in the van Till the sun's rays with added flame were filled! Where are its golden roofs? where those who dared to build? CX. Tully was not so eloquent as thou, Thou nameless column with the buried base! What are the laurels of the Caesar's brow? Crown me with ivy from his dwelling-place. Whose arch or pillar meets me in the face, Titus or Trajan's? No; 'tis that of Time: Triumph, arch, pillar, all he doth displace, Scoffing; and apostolic statues climb To crush the imperial urn, whose ashes slept sublime, CXI. Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome, And looking to the stars; they had contained A spirit which with these would find a home, The last of those who o'er the whole earth reigned, The Roman globe, for after none sustained But yielded back his conquests:—he was more Than a mere Alexander, and unstained With household blood and wine, serenely wore His sovereign virtues—still we Trajan's name adore. CXII. Where is the rock of Triumph, the high place Where Rome embraced her heroes? where the steep Tarpeian—fittest goal of Treason's race, The promontory whence the traitor's leap Cured all ambition? Did the Conquerors heap Their spoils here? Yes; and in yon field below, A thousand years of silenced factions sleep— The Forum, where the immortal accents glow, And still the eloquent air breathes—burns with Cicero! CXIII. The field of freedom, faction, fame, and blood: Here a proud people's passions were exhaled, From the first hour of empire in the bud To that when further worlds to conquer failed; But long before had Freedom's face been veiled, And Anarchy assumed her attributes: Till every lawless soldier who assailed Trod on the trembling Senate's slavish mutes, Or raised the venal voice of baser prostitutes. CXIV. Then turn we to our latest tribune's name, From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee, Redeemer of dark centuries of shame— The friend of Petrarch—hope of Italy— Rienzi! last of Romans! While the tree Of freedom's withered trunk puts forth a leaf, Even for thy tomb a garland let it be— The forum's champion, and the people's chief— Her new-born Numa thou, with reign, alas! too brief. CXV. Egeria! sweet creation of some heart Which found no mortal resting-place so fair As thine ideal breast; whate'er thou art Or wert,—a young Aurora of the air, The nympholepsy of some fond despair; Or, it might be, a beauty of the earth, Who found a more than common votary there Too much adoring; whatsoe'er thy birth, Thou wert a beautiful thought, and softly bodied forth. CXVI. The mosses of thy fountain still are sprinkled With thine Elysian water-drops; the face Of thy cave-guarded spring, with years unwrinkled, Reflects the meek-eyed genius of the place, Whose green wild margin now no more erase Art's works; nor must the delicate waters sleep, Prisoned in marble, bubbling from the base Of the cleft statue, with a gentle leap The rill runs o'er, and round, fern, flowers, and ivy creep, CXVII. Fantastically tangled; the green hills Are clothed with early blossoms, through the grass The quick-eyed lizard rustles, and the bills Of summer birds sing welcome as ye pass; Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class, Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass; The sweetness of the violet's deep blue eyes, Kissed by the breath of heaven, seems coloured by its skies. CXVIII. Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover, Egeria! thy all heavenly bosom beating For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover; The purple Midnight veiled that mystic meeting With her most starry canopy, and seating Thyself by thine adorer, what befell? This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting Of an enamoured Goddess, and the cell Haunted by holy Love—the earliest oracle! CXIX. And didst thou not, thy breast to his replying, Blend a celestial with a human heart; And Love, which dies as it was born, in sighing, Share with immortal transports? could thine art Make them indeed immortal, and impart The purity of heaven to earthly joys, Expel the venom and not blunt the dart— The dull satiety which all destroys— And root from out the soul the deadly weed which cloys? 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 flies O'er the world's wilderness, and vainly pants For some celestial fruit forbidden to our wants. CXXI. O 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 unquenched soul—parched—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 unreached Paradise of our despair, Which o'er-informs the pencil and the pen, And overpowers the page where it would bloom again. CXXIII. Who loves, raves—'tis 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, Seems ever near the prize—wealthiest when most undone. CXXIV. We wither from our youth, we gasp away— Sick—sick; unfound the boon, unslaked the thirst, 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—'tis 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. Few—none—find what they love or could have loved: Though accident, blind contact, and the strong Necessity of loving, have removed Antipathies—but to recur, ere long, Envenomed with irrevocable wrong; And Circumstance, that unspiritual god And miscreator, makes and helps along 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—'tis 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. CXXVII. Yet let us ponder boldly—'tis a base 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 chained and tortured—cabined, cribbed, confined, And bred in darkness, lest the truth should shine Too brightly on the unprepared mind, The beam pours in, for time and skill will couch the blind. 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 'twere its natural torches, for divine Should be the light which streams here, to illume This long explored but still exhaustless mine Of contemplation; and the azure gloom Of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume CXXIX. 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 ruined battlement, For which the palace of the present hour Must yield its pomp, and wait till ages are its dower. XXX. O Time! the beautifier of the dead, Adorner of the ruin, comforter And only healer when the heart hath bled— Time! the corrector where our judgments err, The test of truth, love,—sole philosopher, For all beside are sophists, from thy thrift, Which never loses though it doth defer— Time, the avenger! unto thee I lift My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a gift: CXXXI. 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? CXXXII. And thou, who never yet of human wrong Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis! Here, where the ancients 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! Dost thou not hear my heart?—Awake! thou shalt, and must. CXXXIII. It is not that I may not have incurred For my ancestral faults or mine the wound I bleed withal, and had it been conferred With a just weapon, it had flowed 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. CXXXIV. And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now I shrink from what is suffered: 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! CXXXV. That curse shall be forgiveness.—Have I not— Hear me, my mother Earth! behold it, Heaven!— Have I not had to wrestle with my lot? Have I not suffered things to be forgiven? Have I not had my brain seared, my heart riven, Hopes sapped, name blighted, Life's life lied away? And only not to desperation driven, Because not altogether of such clay As rots into the souls of those whom I survey. CXXXVI. From mighty wrongs to petty perfidy Have I not seen what human things could do? 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. CXXXVII. But I have lived, and have not lived in vain: My mind may lose its force, my blood 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 remembered tone of a mute lyre, Shall on their softened spirits sink, and move In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love. CXXXVIII. 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 murmured pity, or loud-roared applause, As man was slaughtered by his fellow-man. And wherefore slaughtered? 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 but theatres where the chief actors rot. CXL. I see before me the Gladiator lie: He leans upon his hand—his manly brow Consents to death, but conquers agony, And his drooped 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 hailed the wretch who won. CXLI. He heard it, but he heeded not—his eyes Were with his heart, and that was far away; He recked not of the life he lost nor prize, But where his rude hut by the Danube lay, THERE were his young barbarians all at play, THERE was their Dacian mother—he, their sire, Butchered to make a Roman holiday— All this rushed with his blood—Shall he expire, And unavenged?—Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire! CXLII. But here, where murder breathed her bloody steam; And here, where buzzing nations choked the ways, And roared or murmured like a mountain-stream Dashing 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 voice sounds much—and fall the stars' faint rays On the arena void—seats crushed, walls bowed, And galleries, where my steps seem echoes strangely loud. CXLIII. A ruin—yet what ruin! from its mass Walls, palaces, half-cities, have been reared; Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass, And marvel where the spoil could have appeared. Hath it indeed been plundered, or but cleared? Alas! developed, opens the decay, When the colossal fabric's form is neared: It will not bear the brightness of the day, Which streams too much on all, years, man, have reft away. CXLIV. But when the rising moon begins to climb Its 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 grey 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: Heroes have trod this spot—'tis on their dust ye tread. CXLV. 'While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls—the World.' From our own land Thus spake the pilgrims o'er this mighty wall In Saxon times, which we are wont to call Ancient; and these three mortal things are still On their foundations, and unaltered all; Rome and her Ruin past Redemption's skill, The World, the same wide den—of thieves, or what ye will. CXLVI. Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime— Shrine of all saints and temple of all gods, From Jove to Jesus—spared and blest by time; Looking tranquillity, while falls or nods Arch, empire, each thing round thee, and man plods His way through thorns to ashes—glorious dome! Shalt thou not last?—Time's scythe and tyrants' rods Shiver upon thee—sanctuary and home Of art and piety—Pantheon!—pride of Rome! CXLVII. Relic of nobler days, and noblest arts! Despoiled 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 honoured forms, whose busts around them close. CXLVIII. There is a dungeon, in whose dim drear light What do I gaze on? Nothing: Look again! Two forms are slowly shadowed on my sight— Two insulated phantoms of the brain: It is not so: I see 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? CXLIX. 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. 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 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. 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 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. CLII. Turn to the mole which Hadrian reared on high, Imperial mimic of old Egypt's piles, Colossal copyist of deformity, Whose travelled phantasy from the far Nile's Enormous model, doomed 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, To view the huge design which sprung from such a birth! CLIII. But lo! the dome—the vast and wondrous dome, 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 hyaena and the jackal in their shade; I have beheld Sophia's bright roofs swell Their glittering mass i' the sun, and have surveyed Its sanctuary the while the usurping Moslem prayed; CLIV. 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 undefiled. CLV. Enter: its grandeur overwhelms thee not; And why? it is not lessened; but thy mind, Expanded by the genius of the spot, Has grown colossal, and can only find A fit abode wherein appear enshrined Thy hopes of immortality; and thou Shalt one day, if found worthy, so defined, See thy God face to face, as thou dost now His Holy of Holies, nor be blasted by his brow. CLVI. Thou movest—but increasing with th' 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; Rich marbles—richer painting—shrines where flame The lamps of gold—and haughty dome which vies In air with Earth's chief structures, though their frame Sits on the firm-set ground—and this the clouds must claim. CLVII. 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. CLVIII. Not by its fault—but thine: Our outward sense Is but of gradual grasp—and as it is That what we have of feeling most intense Outstrips our faint expression; e'en 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. CLIX. Then pause and be enlightened; 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. CLX. Or, turning to the Vatican, go see Laocoon's torture dignifying pain— A father's love and mortal's agony With an immortal's patience blending:—Vain The struggle; vain, against the coiling strain And gripe, and deepening of the dragon's grasp, The old man's clench; the long envenomed chain Rivets the living links,—the enormous asp Enforces pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp. CLXI. Or view the Lord of the unerring bow, The God of life, and poesy, and light— The Sun in human limbs arrayed, and brow All 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, Developing in that one glance the Deity. CLXII. But in his delicate form—a dream of Love, Shaped by some solitary nymph, whose breast Longed for a deathless lover from above, And maddened in that vision—are expressed All that ideal beauty ever blessed The mind within its most unearthly mood, When each conception was a heavenly guest— A ray of immortality—and stood Starlike, around, until they gathered to a god? CLXIII. 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 arrayed With an eternal glory—which, if made By human hands, is not of human thought And Time himself hath hallowed it, nor laid One ringlet in the dust—nor hath it caught A tinge of years, but breathes the flame with which 'twas 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 classed With forms which live and suffer—let that pass— His shadow fades away into Destruction's mass, CLXV. Which gathers shadow, substance, life, and all That we inherit in its mortal shroud, And spreads the dim and universal pall Thro' which all things grow phantoms; and the cloud Between us sinks and all which ever glowed, Till Glory's self is twilight, and displays A melancholy halo scarce allowed To hover on the verge of darkness; rays Sadder than saddest night, for they distract the gaze, CLXVI. 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 These fardels of the heart—the heart whose sweat was gore. CLXVII. Hark! forth from the abyss a voice proceeds, A long, low distant murmur of dread sound, Such as arises when a nation bleeds With some deep and immedicable wound; Through storm and darkness yawns the rending ground. The gulf is thick with phantoms, but the chief Seems royal still, though with her head discrowned, And pale, but lovely, with maternal grief She clasps a babe, to whom her breast yields no relief. CLXVIII. 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 hushed that pang for ever: with thee fled The present happiness and promised joy Which filled the imperial isles so full it seemed to cloy. CLXIX. Peasants bring forth in safety.—Can it be, O 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 One; for she had poured Her orisons for thee, and o'er thy head Beheld her Iris.—Thou, too, lonely lord, And desolate consort—vainly wert thou wed! The husband of a year! the father of the dead! CLXX. Of sackcloth was thy wedding garment made: Thy bridal's fruit is ashes; in the dust The fair-haired 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 deemed Our children should obey her child, and blessed Her and her hoped-for seed, whose promise seemed Like star to shepherd's eyes; 'twas but a meteor beamed. CLXXI. Woe unto us, not her; for she sleeps well: The fickle reek of popular breath, the tongue Of hollow counsel, the false oracle, Which from the birth of monarchy hath rung Its knell in princely ears, till the o'erstrung Nations have armed in madness, the strange fate Which tumbles mightiest sovereigns, and hath flung Against their blind omnipotence a weight Within the opposing scale, which crushes soon or late,— CLXXII. These might have been her destiny; but no, Our hearts deny it: and so young, so fair, Good without effort, great without a foe; But now a bride and mother—and now THERE! How many ties did that stern moment tear! From thy Sire's to his humblest subject's breast Is linked the electric chain of that despair, Whose shock was as an earthquake's, and oppressed The land which loved thee so, that none could love thee best. CLXXIII. Lo, Nemi! navelled in the woody hills So far, that the uprooting wind which tears The oak from his foundation, and which spills The ocean o'er its boundary, and bears Its foam against the skies, reluctant spares The oval mirror of thy glassy lake; And, calm as cherished hate, its surface wears A deep cold settled aspect nought can shake, All coiled into itself and round, as sleeps the snake. CLXXIV. And near Albano's scarce divided waves Shine from a sister valley;—and afar The Tiber winds, and the broad ocean laves The Latian coast where sprung the Epic war, 'Arms and the Man,' whose reascending star Rose o'er an empire,—but beneath thy right Tully reposed from Rome;—and where yon bar Of girdling mountains intercepts the sight, The Sabine farm was tilled, the weary bard's delight. CLXXV. But I forget.—My pilgrim's shrine is won, And he and I must part,—so let it be,— His task and mine alike are nearly done; Yet once more let us look upon the sea: The midland ocean breaks on him and me, And from the Alban mount we now behold Our friend of youth, that ocean, which when we Beheld it last by Calpe's rock unfold Those waves, we followed on till the dark Euxine rolled CLXXVI. Upon the blue Symplegades: long years— Long, though not very many—since have done Their work on both; some suffering and some tears Have left us nearly where we had begun: Yet not in vain our mortal race hath run, We have had our reward—and it is here; That we can yet feel gladdened by the sun, And reap from earth, sea, joy almost as dear As if there were no man to trouble what is clear. CLXXVII. Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling-place, With one fair Spirit for my minister, That I might all forget the human race, And, hating no one, love but only her! Ye Elements!—in whose ennobling stir I feel myself exalted—can ye not Accord me such a being? Do I err In deeming such inhabit many a spot? Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot. CLXXVIII. There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society where none intrudes, By the deep Sea, and music in its roar: I love not Man the less, but Nature more, From these our interviews, in which I steal From all I may be, or have been before, To mingle with the Universe, and feel What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal. CLXXIX. Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean—roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; Man marks the earth with ruin—his control Stops with the shore;—upon the watery plain The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain A shadow of man's ravage, save his own, When for a moment, like a drop of rain, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown. CLXXX. His steps are not upon thy paths,—thy fields Are not a spoil for him,—thou dost arise And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields For earth's destruction thou dost all despise, Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies, And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray And howling, to his gods, where haply lies His petty hope in some near port or bay, And dashest him again to earth:—there let him lay. CLXXXI. The armaments which thunderstrike the walls Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake, And monarchs tremble in their capitals. The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make Their clay creator the vain title take Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war; These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake, They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar. CLXXXII. Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee— Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? Thy waters washed them power while they were free And many a tyrant since: their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay Has dried up realms to deserts: not so thou, Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play— Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow— Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now. CLXXXIII. Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form Glasses itself in tempests; in all time, Calm or convulsed—in breeze, or gale, or storm, Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime Dark-heaving;—boundless, endless, and sublime— The image of Eternity—the throne Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime The monsters of the deep are made; each zone Obeys thee: thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone. CLXXXIV. And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be Borne like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy I wantoned with thy breakers—they to me Were a delight; and if the freshening sea Made them a terror—'twas a pleasing fear, For I was as it were a child of thee, And trusted to thy billows far and near, And laid my hand upon thy mane—as I do here. CLXXXV. My task is done—my song hath ceased—my theme Has died into an echo; it is fit The spell should break of this protracted dream. The torch shall be extinguished which hath lit My midnight lamp—and what is writ, is writ— Would it were worthier! but I am not now That which I have been—and my visions flit Less palpably before me—and the glow Which in my spirit dwelt is fluttering, faint, and low. CLXXXVI. Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been— A sound which makes us linger; yet, farewell! Ye, who have traced the Pilgrim to the scene Which is his last, if in your memories dwell A thought which once was his, if on ye swell A single recollection, not in vain He wore his sandal-shoon and scallop shell; Farewell! with HIM alone may rest the pain, If such there were—with YOU, the moral of his strain.

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