Page images


(CHILDE HAROLD, Canto iii. Stanzas 99-104.)

CLARENS! Sweet Clarens, birthplace of deep Love!
Thine air is the young breath of passionate thought;
Thy trees take root in Love; the snows above
The very Glaciers have his colours caught,
And sunset into rose-hues sees them wrought
By rays which sleep there lovingly: the rocks,

The permanent crags, tell here of Love, who sought
In them a refuge from the worldly shocks,

Which stir and sting the soul with hope that woos, then mocks.

Clarens! by heavenly feet thy paths are trod,—
Undying Love's, who here ascends a throne

To which the steps are mountains; where the god
Is a pervading life and light,- -so shown

Not on those summits solely, nor alone

In the still cave and forest; o'er the flower His eye is sparkling, and his breath hath blown, His soft and summer breath, whose tender power Passes the strength of storms in their most desolate hour.

All things are here of him; from the black pines,
Which are his shade on high, and the loud roar
Of torrents, where he listeneth, to the vines

Which slope his green path downward to the shore,


Where the bow'd waters meet him, and adore,
Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the wood,
The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar,
But light leaves, young as joy, stands where it stood,
Offering to him, and his, a populous solitude.

A populous solitude of bees and birds,
And fairy-form'd and many-colour'd things,

Who worship him with notes more sweet than words,
And innocently open their glad wings,

Fearless and full of life: the gush of springs,
And fall of lofty fountains, and the bend

Of stirring branches, and the bud which brings
The swiftest thought of beauty, here extend,
Mingling, and made by Love, unto one mighty end.

He who hath loved not, here would learn that lore,
And make his heart a spirit; he who knows
That tender mystery, will love the more,

For this is Love's recess, where vain men's woes,

And the world's waste, have driven him far from those,

For 'tis his nature to advance or die;

He stands not still, but or decays, or grows

Into a boundless blessing, which may vie

With the immortal lights, in its eternity.

'Twas not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot,
Peopling it with affections; but he found
It was the scene which passion must allot
To the mind's purified beings; 'twas the ground
Where early Love his Psyche's zone unbound,
And hallow'd it with loveliness: 'tis lone,

And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound,

And sense, and sight of sweetness; here the Rhone

Hath spread himself a couch, the Alps have rear'd a



(CHILDE HAROLD, Canto iv. Stanzas 42-47.)

ITALIA! 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;

Then might'st thou more appal; or, less desired, Be homely 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

Wandering in youth, I traced the path of him,1
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,

1 Servius Sulpicius. See Middleton's Cicero, vol. ii. p. 371.

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;

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.

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

Of perish'd states he mourn'd 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.

Yet, Italy! through every other land

Thy wrongs should ring, and shall, from side to side;
Mother of Arts! as once of arms; thy hand
Was then our guardian, and is still our guide;
Parent of our Religion! 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.


(CHILDE HAROLD, Canto iv. Stanzas 1-4.)

I STOOD in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand :

I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles

O'er the far times, when many a subject land

Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles,

Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion,

A ruler of the waters and their powers:

And such she was ;-her daughters had their dowers From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East Pour'd in her lap all gems in sparkling showers. In purple was she robed, and of her feast Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increased.

« PreviousContinue »