Lord George Gordon Byron

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

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

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, thron'd 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 rob'd, and of her feast 
Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increas'd. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns -- 
An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt; 
Kingdoms are shrunk to provinces, and chains 
Clank over sceptred cities, nations melt