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The friend of Tully:1 as my bark did skim
The bright blue waters with a fanning wind,
Came Megara before me, and behind
Ægina lay, Piræus 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 upreared
Barbaric dwellings on their shattered site,
Which only make more mourned and more endeared
The few last rays of their far-scattered light,
And the crushed relics of their vanished might.
The Roman saw these tombs in his own age,
These sepulchers of cities, which excite
Sad wonder, and his yet surviving page
The moral lesson bears, drawn from such pilgrimage.

XLVI.

That page is now before me, and on mine
His country's ruin added to the mass

Of perished states he mourned in their decline,
And I in desolation: all that was

Of then destruction is; and now, alas!
Rome Rome imperial, bows her to the storm,
In the same dust and blackness, and we pass

The skeleton of her Titanic form,

Wrecks of another world, whose ashes still are warm.

XLVII.

Yet, Italy! through every other land

Thy wrongs should ring, and shall, from side to side;

1 Cicero.

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Mother of Arts! as once of Arms; thy hand
Was then our guardian, and is still our guide;
Parent of our Religion!1 whom the wide
Nations have knelt to for the keys of heaven!
Europe, repentant of her parricide,

Shall yet redeem thee, and, all backward driven,
Roll the barbarian tide, and sue to be forgiven.2

XLVIII.

But Arno wins us to the fair white walls,

Where the Etrurian Athens claims and keeps
A softer feeling for her fairy halls.3
Girt by her theater of hills, she reaps

Her corn, and wine, and oil, and Plenty leaps
To laughing life, with her redundant horn.
Along the banks where smiling Arno sweeps
Was modern Luxury of Commerce born,
And buried Learning rose, redeemed to a new morn.

XLIX.

There, too, the goddess loves in stone, and fills
The air around with beauty; we inhale

The ambrosial aspect, which, beheld, instills
Part of its immortality; the veil

Of heaven is half undrawn; within the pale
We stand, and in that form and face behold

What Mind can make, when Nature's self would fail;
And to the fond idolaters of old

Envy the innate flash which such a soul could mold:

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425

430

435

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1 The original Christian church was fostered by Rome.

2 What has been the progress of Italy since Byron lamented her decay? 3 Florence is on the Arno.

4 The Venus de Medici. Keene says: "It is now considered an uninspired copy by some trade artist living at Rome about the time of Augustus." Byron's taste was not always equal to his enthusiasm.

L.

We gaze and turn away, and know not where, Dazzled and drunk with beauty, till the heart Reels with its fullness; there-forever there— Chained to the chariot of triumphal Art, We stand as captives, and would not depart. Away! there need no words nor terms precise, The paltry jargon of the marble mart, Where Pedantry gulls Folly-we have eyes:1 Blood, pulse, and breast confirm the Dardan Shepherd's prize."

449

LI.

LII.

Appearedst thou not to Paris in this guise?
Or to more deeply blest Anchises? 3 or,
In all thy perfect goddess-ship, when lies

Before thee thy own vanquished Lord of War ? 4
And gazing in thy face as toward a star,
Laid on thy lap, his eyes to thee upturn,

Feeding on thy sweet cheek! while thy lips are
With lava kisses melting while they burn,

Showered on his eyelids, brow, and mouth, as from an urn?

Glowing, and circumfused in speechless love,

Their full divinity inadequate

That feeling to express, or to improve,

The gods become as mortals, and man's fate

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455

460

1 Does not even genius require education in order to judge correctly of the fine arts, painting, sculpture, poetry? Byron remained in Florence only a single day. 2 Paris of Troy awarded the prize for beauty to Venus. 3 Anchises, the father of Æneas, was beloved by Venus. 4 Mars.

Has moments like their brightest; but the weight
Of earth recoils upon us;-let it go!

We can recall such visions, and create,

From what has been, or might be, things which grow Into thy statue's form, and look like gods below.

LIII.

I leave to learnèd fingers and wise hands,
The artist and his ape,1 to teach and tell
How well his connoisseurship understands
The graceful bend, and the voluptuous swell:
Let these describe the undescribable:

I would not their vile breath should crisp the stream
Wherein that image shall forever dwell;

The unruffled mirror of the loveliest dream
That ever left the sky on the deep soul to beam.

LIV.

In Santa Croce's 2 holy precincts lie

Ashes which make it holier, dust which is
Even in itself an immortality,

Though there were nothing save the past, and this,
The particle of those sublimities

Which have relapsed to chaos: here repose
Angelo's, Alfieri's bones, and his,

The starry Galileo,5 with his woes;

Here Machiavelli's 6 earth returned to whence it rose.

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1 Imitator.

2 Holy Cross, a famous cathedral in Florence. 3 Michael Angelo Buonarroti, the master painter, sculptor, and architect (born 1475, died 1564). 4 Italian poet (born 1749, died 1803).

5 Italian astronomer (born 1564, died 1642).

6 Famous Italian political writer, author of The Prince (born 1469, died

1527).

LV.

These are four minds, which, like the elements,1

Might furnish forth creation: - Italy!

Time, which hath wronged thee with ten thousand rents
Of thine imperial garment, shall deny,
And hath denied, to every other sky,

Spirits which soar from ruin: thy decay
Is still impregnate with divinity,
Which gilds it with revivifying ray;
Such as the great of yore, Canova 2 is to-day.

LVI.

But where repose the all Etruscan three-
Dante, and Petrarch, and, scarce less than they,
The Bard of Prose,3 creative spirit! he

Of the Hundred Tales of love-where did they lay
Their bones, distinguished from our common clay
In death as life? Are they resolved to dust,
And have their country's marbles naught to say?
Could not her quarries furnish forth one bust?
Did they not to her breast their filial earth intrust?

LVII.

Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar,1
Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore:
Thy factions, in their worse than civil war,
Proscribed the bard whose name forevermore

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1 Earth, air, water, fire, or hot, cold, moist, dry.

2 An Italian sculptor of Byron's day (born 1757, died 1822).

3 Boccaccio, author of the Decameron, etc. He was buried near Florence. 4 In Ravenna. 5 Guelphs and Ghibellines.

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