Verse > Lord Byron > Poems
Lord Byron (1788–1824).  Poetry of Byron.  1881.
II. Descriptive and Narrative
Venice, I
(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        5
  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,        10
  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        15
  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.
  In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more,
  And silent rows the songless gondolier;        20
  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,        25
  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        30
  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, can not be swept or worn away—
  The keystone of the arch! though all were o’er,        35
For us repeopled were the solitary shore.

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