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All coil'd 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 sprang the Epic war, “Arms and the Man,” whose re-ascending 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 till'd, the weary bard's delight. (2) (1) The village of Nemi was near the Arician retreat of Egeria, and, from the shades which embosomed the temple of Diana, has preserved to this
day its distinctive appellation of The Grove. Nemi is but an evening's ride from the comfortable inn of Albano.
(2) The whole declivity of the Alban hill is of unrivalled beauty, and from the convent on the highest point, which has succeeded to the temple of the Latian Jupiter, the prospect embraces all the objects alluded to in this stanza; the Mediterranean; the whole scene of the latter half of the AEneid, and the coast from beyond the mouth of the Tiber to the headland of Circaeum and the Cape of Terracina.-See “Historical Notes,” at the end of this canto, No. XXXI.
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 follow'd on till the dark Euxine roll'd
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 gladden'd by the sun, And reap from earth, sea, joy almost as dear As if there were no man to trouble what is clear.
Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot.
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 wasted them 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.
(1) [When Lord Byron wrote this stanza, he had, no doubt, the following passage in Boswell's Johnson floating on his mind:– “Dining one day with General Paoli, and talking of his projected journey to Italy, - “A man,” said Johnson, “who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of all travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. All our religion, almost all our law, almost all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come to us from the shores of the Mediterranean.” The General observed, that * The Mediterranean would be a noble subject for a poem.”— Croker's Boswell, vol. iii. p. 400. – E.]
(1) [This passage would, perhaps, be read without emotion, if we did not know that Lord Byron was here describing his actual feelings and habits, and that this was an unaffected picture of his propensities and amusements even from childhood, - when he listened to the roar, and watched the bursts of the northern ocean on the tempestuous shores of Aberdeenshire. It was a fearful and violent change at the age of ten years to be separated from this congenial solitude, – this independence so suited to his haughty and contemplative spirit, — this rude grandeur of nature, — and thrown among the mere worldly-minded and selfish ferocity, the affected polish and repelling coxcombry, of a great public school. How many thousand times did the moody, sullen, and indignant boy wish himself back to the keen air and boisterous billows that broke lonely upon the simple and soul-invigorating haunts of his childhood, How did he prefer some ghoststory; some tale of second-sight; some relation of Robin Hood's feats;