I only have Canto the Fourth available now; I will try and post the others as soon as possible


Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the Fourth

I

1         I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
2         A palace and a prison on each hand:
3         I saw from out the wave her structures rise
4         As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand:
5         A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
6         Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
7         O'er the far times, when many a subject land
8         Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles,
9     Where Venice sate in state, thron'd on her hundred isles!

II

10       She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
11       Rising with her tiara of proud towers
12       At airy distance, with majestic motion,
13       A ruler of the waters and their powers:
14       And such she was; her daughters had their dowers
15       From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East
16       Pour'd in her lap all gems in sparkling showers.
17       In purple was she rob'd, and of her feast
18   Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increas'd.

III

19       In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,
20       And silent rows the songless gondolier;
21       Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
22       And music meets not always now the ear:
23       Those days are gone--but Beauty still is here.
24       States fall, arts fade--but Nature doth not die,
25       Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
26       The pleasant place of all festivity,
27   The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

IV

28       But unto us she hath a spell beyond
29       Her name in story, and her long array
30       Of mighty shadows, whose dim forms despond
31       Above the dogeless city's vanish'd sway;
32       Ours is a trophy which will not decay
33       With the Rialto; Shylock and the Moor,
34       And Pierre, cannot be swept or worn away--
35       The keystones of the arch! though all were o'er,
36   For us repeopl'd were the solitary shore.

V

37       The beings of the mind are not of clay;
38       Essentially immortal, they create
39       And multiply in us a brighter ray
40       And more belov'd existence: that which Fate
41       Prohibits to dull life, in this our state
42       Of mortal bondage, by these spirits supplied,
43       First exiles, then replaces what we hate;
44       Watering the heart whose early flowers have died,
45   And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.

VI

46       Such is the refuge of our youth and age,
47       The first from Hope, the last from Vacancy;
48       And this worn feeling peoples many a page,
49       And, maybe, that which grows beneath mine eye:
50       Yet there are things whose strong reality
51       Outshines our fairy-land; in shape and hues
52       More beautiful than our fantastic sky,
53       And the strange constellations which the Muse
54   O'er her wild universe is skilful to diffuse:

VII

55       I saw or dream'd of such--but let them go;
56       They came like truth--and disappear'd like dreams;
57       And whatsoe'er they were--are now but so:
58       I could replace them if I would; still teems
59       My mind with many a form which aptly seems
60         Such as I sought for, and at moments found;
61       Let these too go--for waking Reason deems
62       Such overweening fantasies unsound,
63   And other voices speak, and other sights surround.

VIII

64       I've taught me other tongues, and in strange eyes
65       Have made me not a stranger; to the mind
66       Which is itself, no changes bring surprise;
67       Nor is it harsh to make, nor hard to find
68       A country with--ay, or without mankind;
69       Yet was I born where men are proud to be--
70       Not without cause; and should I leave behind
71       The inviolate island of the sage and free,
72   And seek me out a home by a remoter sea,

IX

73       Perhaps I lov'd it well: and should I lay
74       My ashes in a soil which is not mine,
75       My spirit shall resume it--if we may
76       Unbodied choose a sanctuary. I twine
77       My hopes of being remember'd in my line
78       With my land's language: if too fond and far
79       These aspirations in their scope incline,
80       If my fame should be, as my fortunes are,
81   Of hasty growth and blight, and dull Oblivion bar

X

82       My name from out the temple where the dead
83       Are honour'd by the nations--let it be--
84       And light the laurels on a loftier head!
85       And be the Spartan's epitaph on me--
86       "Sparta hath many a worthier son than he."
87       Meantime I seek no sympathies, nor need;
88       The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree
89       I planted: they have torn me, and I bleed:
90   I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.

XI

91       The spouseless Adriatic mourns her lord;
92       And annual marriage now no more renew'd,
93       The Bucentaur lies rotting unrestor'd,
94       Neglected garment of her widowhood!
95       St. Mark yet sees his lion where he stood
96       Stand, but in mockery of his wither'd power,
97       Over the proud Place where an Emperor sued,
98       And monarchs gaz'd and envied in the hour
99   When Venice was a queen with an unequall'd dower.

XII

100     The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns--
101     An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt;
102     Kingdoms are shrunk to provinces, and chains
103     Clank over sceptred cities, nations melt
104     From power's high pinnacle, when they have felt
105     The sunshine for a while, and downward go
106     Like lauwine loosen'd from the mountain's belt:
107     Oh, for one hour of blind old Dandolo,
108 Th' octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe!

XIII

109     Before St. Mark still glow his steeds of brass,
110     Their gilded collars glittering in the sun;
111     But is not Doria's menace come to pass?
112     Are they not bridled?--Venice, lost and won,
113     Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done,
114     Sinks, like a sea-weed, into whence she rose!
115     Better be whelm'd beneath the waves, and shun,
116     Even in destruction's depth, her foreign foes,
117 From whom submission wrings an infamous repose.

XIV

118     In youth she was all glory, a new Tyre,
119     Her very by-word sprung from victory,
120     The "Planter of the Lion," which through fire
121     And blood she bore o'er subject earth and sea;
122     Though making many slaves, herself still free,
123     And Europe's bulwark 'gainst the Ottomite;
124     Witness Troy's rival, Candia! Vouch it, ye
125     Immortal waves that saw Lepanto's fight!
126 For ye are names no time nor tyranny can blight.

XV

127     Statues of glass--all shiver'd--the long file
128     Of her dead Doges are declin'd to dust;
129     But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous pile
130     Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust;
131     Their sceptre broken, and their sword in rust,
132     Have yielded to the stranger: empty halls,
133     Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must
134     Too oft remind her who and what enthralls,
135 Have flung a desolate cloud o'er Venice' lovely walls.

XVI

136     When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse,
137     And fetter'd thousands bore the yoke of war,
138     Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse,
139     Her voice their only ransom from afar:
140     See! as they chant the tragic hymn, the car
141     Of the o'ermaster'd victor stops, the reins
142     Fall from his hands--his idle scimitar
143     Starts from its belt--he rends his captive's chains,
144 And bids him thank the bard for freedom and his strains.

XVII

145     Thus, Venice! if no stronger claim were thine,
146     Were all thy proud historic deeds forgot,
147     Thy choral memory of the Bard divine,
148     Thy love of Tasso, should have cut the knot
149     Which ties thee to thy tyrants; and thy lot
150     Is shameful to the nations--most of all,
151     Albion, to thee: the Ocean queen should not
152     Abandon Ocean's children; in the fall
153 Of Venice think of thine, despite thy watery wall.

XVIII

154     I loved her from my boyhood; she to me
155     Was as a fairy city of the heart,
156     Rising like water-columns from the sea,
157     Of joy the sojourn, and of wealth the mart;
158    And Otway, Radcliffe, Schiller, Shakespeare's art,
159     Had stamp'd her image in me, and even so,
160     Although I found her thus, we did not part;
161     Perchance even dearer in her day of woe,
162 Than when she was a boast, a marvel, and a show....
 
 

to Byron: Selected Poetry