« PreviousContinue »
In Venice Tasso's 1 echoes are no more,
But unto us she hath a spell beyond
The keystones of the arch! though all were o'er
The beings of the mind are not of clay ; 6
Watering the heart whose early flowers have died,
1 Of Tasso.] See below, and Byron's • Tasso's Lament,' in connection with Leonora and his imprisonment.
2 The Rialto.] The island in which the Exchange of Venice was. See Merchant of Venice,' • On the Rialto.' See Beppo.? 3 Shylock.] The Jew in Shakspeare's · Merchant of Venice.'
The Mcor.] The Othello of Shakspeare. 5 And Pierre.] A character in the Venice Preserved' of Otway.
6 The beings of the mind are not of clay.] Conf. ii. st. vi. Lament of Tasso' ii.
1 Such is the refuge of our youth and age,
And the strange constellations which the Muse
I saw or dreamed of such,-but let them go,-
Such uver-weening phantasies unsound,
I've taught me other tongues, and in strange eyes
The inviolate island 2 of the sage and free,
Perhaps I loved it well ; and should I lay
And now because I feel it growing dull.'
These aspirations in their scope incline,
If my fame should be, as my fortunes are,
My name from out the temple where the dead
I planted ; they have torn me, and I bleed :
The spouseless Adriatic 4 mourns her lord ;
1 If my fame should be, 8c.] The impression of the two Cantos of the Childe Harold' on the public mind was instantaneous, and Byron woke one day, as he says, to find himself famous.
2 Though actually buried at Hucknall, in Nottinghamshire, he entertained the idea, even at this time, that his body would be admitted into the Christian Pantheon of England's great menWestminster Abbey. As in an allusion he makes below, he is conspicuous for his absence.
3 A worthier son.] The language of the mother of Brasidas, when she heard of her son's death at Amphipopulis, B.C. 422.
4 The spouseless Adriatic, the annual marriage, the Bucentuur.] The Republic of Venice, in the twelfth century, baving cspoused the party of Pope Alexander III. against Frederick Barbarossa, the Pope gave the city a ring, with which to wed the Adriatic. The ring was thrown into the sea by the Doge from the ‘Bucentaur,' the Doge's barge. The ceremony became annual. See • Two Foscari.' 3 An emperor sued.] Frederick Barbarossa. See Rogers’ ‘Italy'
• Did Barbarossa fling his mantle off,
Of the proud pontiff' (Alexander III.).
The Suabian 1 sued, and now the Austrian 2 reigns-
Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo ! 4
Before St. Mark still glow his steeds of brass,5
Even in destruction's depth, her foreign foes,
In youth she was all glory,-a new Tyre ;?
from victory, The ‘Planter of the Lion,'8 which through fire And blood she bore o'er subject earth and sea ;
The Suabian.] Though elected Emperor of Austria, Frederick Barbarossa was Duke of Suabia.
2 The Austrian.] Venice was given up to Austria in 1814, and she was at this time still trampled on. She was, however, freed from the Austrian yoke by Napoleon III.
3 Lauvine.] German lawine,' avalanche.'
4 Dandolo.] From A.D. 1110 to 1205. The Eastern Emperor Manuel Comnenus put out his eyes in 1173. Taking part in the fourth Crusade in 1202, he diverted his forces and took Constantinople, i.e. Byzantium.
*5 His steeds of brass.] These horses were removed by Napoleon I., but subsequently restored.
6 Doria.] Peter Doria, the Genoese, who made himself master or Chiozza, and proudly rejected the terms of the Venetians, A.D. 1380.
? A new Tyre.] The Phænician town on the coast of Palestine. 8 The lion on the flag of St. Mark-Pianta-leone, the planter of
Though making many slaves, herself still free,
Immortal waves that saw Lepanto’s fight!
Vouch it, ye
Statues of glass—all shivered—the long file
Too oft remind her who and what enthrals,
Starts from its belt-he rends his captive's chains,
Were all thy proud historic deeds forgot, the lion ; hence pantaloon,' in the sense of a character on the stage. The French pantalon (a garment) is a modern word.
1 Ottomite.] Follower of Othman, or Osman, i.e. the Ottoman, a Turk.
2 Candia.] The island of Crete, with its Mount Ida. See Virg. Æn. iii
. 180, 1 Agnovit prolem ambiguam. Lepanto.] Alluding to the fleet of Venice which fought the battle.
4 Thin streets.] In the sense of empty, as opposed to frequens or creber. Note modern use: a thin house (an empty theatre).
Syracuse.] After the disastrous termination of the Athenian expedition to Syracuse, A.D. 413, the Athenian captives were said to have gained their freedom by reciting some of the ems of Euripides, the Attic muse.