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Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done
In youth she was all glory, a new Tyre,— Her very by-word sprung from victory, The ‘Planter of the Lion,” which through fire And blood she bore o'er subject earth and sea; Though making many slaves, herself still free, * And Europe's bulwark gainst the Ottomite; Witness Troy's rival, Candia! Wouch it, ye Immortal waves that saw Lepanto's fight! For ye are names no time nor tyranny can blight.
Statues of glass—all shiver’d—the long file Of her dead Doges are declined to dust; But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous pile Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust; Their sceptre broken, and their sword in rust, Have yielded to the stranger: empty halls, Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must Too oft remind her who and what enthralls, Have flung a desolate cloud o'er Venice' lovely walls.
When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse, And fettered thousands bore the yoke of war, Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse, Her voice their only ransom from afar: See! as they chant the tragic hymn, the car Of the o’ermastered victor stops, the reins Fall from his hands—his idle scimitar Starts from its belt—he rends his captive's chains, And bids him thank the bard for freedom and his strains.
Thus, Venice, if no stronger claim were thine,
I loved her from my boyhood—She to me
And Otway, Radcliffe, Schiller, Shakspeare’s art
I can repeople with the past—and of The present there is still for eye and thought, And meditation chasten’d down, enough; And more, it may be, than I hoped or sought; And of the happiest moments which were wrought Within the web of my existence, some From thee, fair Venice' have their colours caught: There are some feelings time cannot benumb, Nor torture shake, or mine would now be cold and dum
But from their nature will the tannen grow Loftiest on loftiest and least shelter’d rocks, Rooted in barrenness, where nought below Of soil supports them 'gainst the Alpine shocks Of eddying storms; yet springs the trunk and mocks The howling tempest, till its height and frame Are worthy of the mountain from whose blocks Of bleak, gray, granite, into life it came, And grew a giant tree;——the mind may grow the same.
Existence may be borne, and the deep root
All suffering doth destroy, or is destroy'd, Even by the sufferer ; and, in each event, Ends. Some, with hope replenish’d and rebuoy’d, Return to whence they came—with like intent, And weave their web again; some, bow’d and bent, Wax gray and ghastly, withering ere their time, And perish with the reed on which they leant: Some seek devotion, toil, war, good or crime, According as their souls were form'd to sink or climb.
But ever and anon of griefs subdued
There comes a token like a scorpion’s sting,
Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued:
And slight withal may be the things which bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling Aside for ever: it may be a sound— A tone of music,-summer's eve—or spring, A flower—the wind—the Ocean—which shall wound, Striking the electric chain where with we are darkly bound;
And how and why we know not, nor can trace Home to its cloud this lightning of the mind, But feel the shock renew’d, nor can efface The blight and blackening which it leaves behind, Which out of things familiar, undesign'd When least we deem of such, calls up to view The spectres whom no exorcism can bind, The cold—the changed—perchance the dead—anew, The mourn'd, the loved, the lost—too many —yet how few.
But my soul wanders; I demand it back
The commonwealth of kings, the men of Rome!
The moon is up, and yet it is not night—
A single star is at her side, and reigns
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,
Fill'd with the face of heaven, which, from afar
OH Rome! my country! city of the soul!
The Niobe of nations! there she stands,
The Goth, the Christian, Time, War, Flood, and Fire,
THERE is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
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, unknell’d, uncoffin'd, and unknown.
The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save theeAssyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they l 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.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form Glasses itself in tempests; in all time, Calm or convuls’d—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.