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Land of Albania ! let me bend mine eyes On thee, thou rugged nurse of savage men ! The cross descends, thy minarets arise, And the pale crescent 1 sparkles in the glen, Through many a cypress grove within each city's ken.
Childe Harold sailed, and passed the barren spot,?
Where sad Penelope o'erlooked the wave ;
And onward viewed the mount, not yet forgot,
The lover's refuge, and the Lesbian's grave.
Dark Sappho ! could not verse immortal save
That breast imbued with such immortal fire ?
Could she not live who life eternal gave ?
If life eternal may await the lyre,
That only heaven to which Earth's children may aspire.
'Twas on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve Childe Harold hailed Leucadia's
cape A spot he longed to see, nor cared to leave : Oft did he mark the scenes of vanished war, Actium,* Lepanto, fatal Trafalgar ; Mark them unmoved, for he would not delight (Born beneath some remote inglorious star)
In themes of bloody fray, or gallant fight, But loathed the bravo's trade, and laughed at martial
1 The country being Turkish is mostly Mahommedan,
The barren spot.] Ithaca. 3 The Lesbian's grave.] Sappho the Lesbian, the most celebrated poetess of ancient days, B.C. 600, called by Plato the tenth Muse. According to tradition she threw herself from the Leucadian promontory in the south of the island. See • Leucadia’s far-projecting rock of woe' (Stanza xli.).
4 Actium. The battle of Actium, in Acarnania, south of Epirus, was fought B.C. 31, between Augustus, “the second Cæsar,' and Antony and Cleopatra (see Stanza xlv.).
5 Lepanto.) At the northern entrance into the Gulf of Corinth, the scene of the Turkish defeat by the Austrian fleet, 1571.
6 Trafalgar.] The defeat of the French fleet by Nelson, 1805, off Cadiz.
But when he saw the evening star above
Leucadia's far-projecting rock of woe,
And hailed the last resort of fruitless love,
He felt, or deemed he felt, no common glow :
And as the stately vessel glided slow
Beneath the shadow of that ancient mount,
He watched the billows' melancholy flow,
And, sunk albeit in thought as he was wont,
More placid seemed his eye, and smooth his pallid front.
Morn dawns; and with it stern Albania's hills,
Dark Suli's ? rocks, and Pindus's inland peak,
Robed half in mist, bedewed with snowy rills,
Arrayed in many a dun and purple streak,
Arise ; and, as the clouds along them break,
Disclose the dwelling of the mountaineer :
Here roams the wolf, the eagle whets his beak,
Birds, beasts of prey, and wilder men appear,
And gathering storms around conyulse the closing year.
Now Harold felt himself at length alone,
And bade to Christian tongues a long adieu ;
Now he adventured on a shore unknown,
Which all admire, but many dread to view :
His breast was armed 'gainst fate, his wants were few;
Peril he sought not, but ne'er shrank to meet ;
The scene was savage, but the scene was new;
This made the ceaseless toil of travel sweet, Beat back keen winter's blast, and welcomed summer's heat.
Here the red cross, for still the cross is here,
Though sadly scoffed at by the circumcised,
Forgets that pride to pampered priesthood dear;
Churchman and votary alike despised.
1. Leucadia's far-projecting rock of woe.] See above (Stanza xxxix.).
2 Suli.] On the coast of Epirus. 5 Pindus.] · Divides Thessaly and Athamania, cast of Epirus,
Foul Superstition ! howsoe'er disguised,
Idol, saint, virgin, prophet, crescent, cross,
For whatsoever symbol thou art prized,
Thou sacerdotal gain, but general loss !
Who from true worship’s gold can separate thy dross ?
Ambracia's 1 gulf behold, where once was lost
A world for woman,lovely, harmless thing!
In yonder rippling bay, their naval host
Did many a Roman chief and Asian king 3
To doubtful conflict, certain slaughter bring :
Look where the second Cæsar's trophies rose :
Now, like the hands that reared them, withering :
Imperial anarchs, doubling human woes !
GOD! was thy globe ordained for such to win and lose ?
From the dark barriers of that rugged clime,
Even to the centre of Illyria's 4 vales,
Childe Harold passed o'er many a mount sublime,
Through lands scarce noticed in historic tales ;
Yet in famed Attica such lovely dales
Are rarely seen ; nor can fair Tempe boast
A charm they know not; loved Parnassus fails,
Though classic ground and consecrated most,
To match some spots that lurk within this lowering coast.
He passed bleak Pindus, Acherusia's lake,
And left the primal city of the land,
And onwards did his further journey take
To greet Albania's chief,? whose dread command
Is lawless law; for with a bloody hand
He sways a nation, turbulent and bold :
1 Ambracia.] The modern Gulf of Arta.
? Woman.] Cleopatra, the cause of quarrel between Antony and Octavia.
3 Asian king.] The Eastern allies of Antony. 4 Ilyria.] North of Epirus on the Adriatic.
5 Tempe.) The beautiful valley of the Penēus, north of Thessaly. The valley is only five miles long.
6 Acherusia's lake.] The lake near Yannina.
7 Albania's chief:] Ali Pasha, the Albanian Napoleon.
Yet here and there some daring mountain-band
Disdain his power, and from their rocky hold
Hurl their defiance far, nor yield, unless to gold.
Monastic Zitza !? from thy shady brow,
Thou small, but favoured spot of holy ground !
Where'er we gaze, around, above, below,
What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found !
Rock, river, forest, mountain, all abound,
And bluest skies that harmonise the whole :
Beneath, the distant torrent's rushing sound
Tells where the volumed cataract doth roll
Between those hanging rocks, that shock yet please the
Amidst the grove that crowns yon tufted hill,
Which, were it not for many a mountain nigh
Rising in lofty ranks, and loftier still,
Might well itself be deemed of dignity,
The convent's white walls glisten fair on high :
Here dwells the caloyer, 3 nor rude is he,
Nor niggard of his cheer; the passer by
Is welcome still ; nor heedless will he flee
From hence, if he delight kind Nature's sheen to see.
Here in the sultriest season let him rest,
Fresh is the green beneath those aged trees :
Here winds of gentlest wing will fan his breast,
From heaven itself he may inhale the breeze :
The plain is far beneath-oh! let him seize
Pure pleasure while he can; the scorching ray
Here pierceth not, impregnate with disease :
Then let his length the loitering pilgrim lay,
And gaze, untired, the morn, the noon, the eve away.
1 Hurl their defiunce far, &c.] Alludes to the betrayal of the castle of Suli, after a siege of 18 years, to the Albanians.
? Zitza.] Near Yannina.
3 Caloyer.] From modern Greek, kadóyepos, monk.
Dusky and huge, enlarging on the sight,
Nature's volcanic amphitheatre,
Chimæra’s alps extend from left to right :
Beneath, a living valley seems to stir :
Flocks play, trees wave, streams flow, the mountain-fr
Nodding above; behold black Acheron !?
Once consecrated to the sepulchre.
Pluto ! if this be hell I look upon,
Close shamed Elysium's gates,3 my shade shall seek for
Ne city's towers pollute the lovely view ;
Unseen is Yanina, though not remote,
Veiled by the screen of hills : here men are few,
Scanty the hamlet, rare the lonely cot:
But peering down each precipice, the goat
Browseth ; and, pensive o'er his scattered flock,
The little shepherd in his white capote 4
Doth lean his boyish form along the rock,
Or in his cave awaits the tempest's short-lived shock.
Oh! where, Dodona ! 5 is thine aged grove,
Prophetic fount, and oracle divine ?
What valley echoed the response of Jove ?
What trace remaineth of the Thunderer's shrine ?
All, all forgotten--and shall man repine
That his frail bonds to fleeting life are broke ?
Cease, fool! the fate of gods may well be thine :
Wouldst thou survive the marble or the oak ?
When nations, tongues, and worlds must sink beneath
? Chimara's alps.] The mountains of Chimara run down to the Adriatic.
2 Acheron.] A dark river of Thesprotia, gives its name to a river of Hell; from öxos and pów, the stream of ache.
3 Close shamed Elysium's gates.] If Hell be thus beautiful, it shames Elysium, therefore close the gates of Heaven.
4 Capote.] See Glossary.
5 Dodona.] The oak-grove oracle of the ancient Zeus, called here Jupiter, the Thunderer,' in Epirus.