Lord George Gordon Byron

Here you will find the Long Poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: A Romaunt. Canto II. of poet Lord George Gordon Byron

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: A Romaunt. Canto II.

Come, blue-eyed maid of heaven!-but thou, alas! 
Didst never yet one mortal song inspire- 
Goddess of Wisdom! here thy temple was, 
And is, despite of war and wasting fire, 
And years, that bade thy worship to expire: 
But worse than steel, and flame, and ages slow, 
Is the dread sceptre and dominion dire 
Of men who never felt the sacred glow 
That thoughts of thee and thine on polish'd breasts bestow. 

Ancient of days! august Athena! where, 
Where are thy men of might? thy grand in soul? 
Gone-glimmering through the dream of things that were: 
First in the race that led to Glory's goal, 
They won, and pass'd away-is this the whole? 
A school-boy's tale, the wonder of an hour! 
The warrior's weapon and the sophist's stole 
Are sought in vain, and o'er each mouldering tower, 
Dim with the mist of years, grey flits the shade of power. 

Son of the morning, rise! approach you here! 
Come-but molest not yon defenceless urn: 
Look on this spot-a nation's sepulchre! 
Abode of gods, whose shrines no longer burn. 
Even gods must yield-religions take their turn: 
'Twas Jove's--2tis Mahomet's-and other creeds 
Will rise with other years, till man shall learn 
Vainly his incense soars, his victim bleeds; 
Poor child of Doubt and Death, whose hope is built on reeds. 

Bound to the earth, he lifts his eye to heaven- 
Is't not enough, unhappy thing! to know 
Thou art? Is this a boon so kindly given, 
That being, thou wouldst be again, and go, 
Thou know'st not, reck'st not to what region, so 
On earth no more, but mingled with the skies? 
Still wilt thou dream on future joy and woe? 
Regard and weigh yon dust before it flies: 
That little urn saith more than thousand homilies. 

Or burst the vanish'd Hero's lofty mound; 
Far on the solitary shore he sleeps: 
He fell, and falling nations mourn'd around; 
But now not one of saddening thousands weeps, 
Nor warlike-worshipper his vigil keeps 
Where demi-gods appear'd, as records tell. 
Remove yon skull from out the scatte?d heaps: 
Is that a temple where a God may dwell? 
Why ev'n the worm at last disdains her shatter?d cell! 

Look on its broken arch, its ruin'd wall, 
Its chambers desolate, and portals foul: 
Yes, this was once Ambition's airy hall, 
The dome of Thought, the palace of the Soul: 
Behold through each lack-lustre, eyeless hole, 
The gay recess of Wisdom and of Wit 
And Passion's host, that never brook'd control: 
Can all, saint, sage, or sophist ever writ, 
People this lonely tower, this tenement refit? 

Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son! 
'All that we know is, nothing can be known.' 
Why should we shrink from what we cannot shun? 
Each has his pang, but feeble sufferers groan 
With brain-born dreams of evil all their own. 
Pursue what Chance or.Fate proclaimeth best; 
Peace waits us on the shores of Acheron: 
There no forc'd banquet claims the sated guest, 
But Silence spreads the couch of ever welcome rest. 

Yet if, as holiest men have deem'd, there be 
A land of souls beyond that sable shore, 
To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee 
And sophists, madly vain of dubious lore; 
How sweet it were in concert to adore 
With those who made our mortal labours light! 
To hear each voice we fear'd to hear no more! 
Behold each mighty shade reveal'd to sight, 
The Bactrian, Samian sage, and all who taught the right! 

There, thou!-whose love and life together fled, 
Have left me here to love and live in vain- 
Twin'd with my heart, and can I deem thee dead, 
When busy Memory flashes on my brain? 
Well-I will dream that we may meet again, 
And woo the vision to my vacant breast: 
If aught of young Remembrance then remain, 
Be as it may Futurity's behest, 
For me 'twere bliss enough to know thy spirit blest! 

Here let me sit upon this massy stone, 
The marble column's yet unshaken base; 
Here, son of Saturn! was thy favrite throne: 
Mightiest of many such! Hence let me trace 
The latent grandeur of thy dwelling place. 
It may not be: nor ev'n can Fancy's eye 
Restore what Time hath labour'd to deface. 
Yet these proud pillars claim no passing sigh, 
Unmov'd the Moslem sits, the light Greek carols by. 

But who, of all the plunderers of yon fane 
On high, where Pallas linger'd, loth to flee 
The latest relic of her ancient reign; 
The last, the worst, dull spoiler, who was he? 
Blush, Caledonia! such thy son could be! 
England! I joy no child he was of thine: 
Thy free-born men should spare what once was free 
Yet they could violate each saddening shrine, 
And bear these altars o'er the long-reluctant brine. 

But most the modern Pict?s ignoble b