Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
By Lord Byron (1788–1824)
From ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’

  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
  Looked to the wingèd Lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sat 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
    Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers.
  In purple was she robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deemed 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 vanished 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,        35
For us repeopled 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 beloved existence: that which Fate        40
    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.        45

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