Page images
PDF
EPUB

Tears, big tears, gushed from the rough soldier's lid,

Lamenting and yet envying such a doom, Falling for France, whose rights he battled to resume.

LVII

Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career,-
His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes ;
And fitly may the stranger lingering here
Pray for his gallant spirit's bright repose ;
For he was Freedom's champion, one of those,
The few in number, who had o'erstept
The charter to chastise,' which she bestows

On such as wield her weapons ; he had kept
The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept.

LVIII

Here Ehrenbreitstein, with her shattered wall
Black with the miner's blast, upon her height
Yet shows of what she was, when shell and ball
Rebounding idly on her strength did light:
A tower of victory ! from whence the flight
Of baffled foes was watched along the plain :
But Peace destroyed what War could never blight,

And laid those proud roofs bare to Summer's rainOn which the iron shower for years had poured in vain.

LIX

Adieu to thee, fair Rhine! How long delighted
The stranger fain would linger on his way!
Thine is a scene alike where souls united
Or lonely Contemplation thus might stray ;
And could the ceaseless vulture cease to proy
On self-condemning bosoms, it were here,
Where Nature, nor too sombre nor too gay,

Wild but not rude, awful yet not austere,
Is to the mellow Earth as Autumn to the year.

In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute took at once
The attraction of a country in romance.'

Wordsworth (On the French Revolution). 1 The charter to chastise.] Note the connection.

2 Ehrenbreitstein.] The Broad Stone of Honour,' opposite Co. blentz, one of the strongest fortifications in the world.

LX

Adieu to thee, again ! a vain adieu !
There can be no farewell to scene like thine ;
The mind is coloured by thy every hue ;
And if reluctantly the eyes resign
Their cherished gaze upon thee, lovely Rhine!
'Tis with the thankful glance of parting praise ;
More mighty spots may rise-more glaring shine,

But none unite in one attaching maze
The brilliant, fair, and soft,—the glories of old days.

LXI

The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom 1
Of coming ripeness, the white city's sheen,
The rolling stream, the precipice's gloom,
The forest's growth, and Gothic walls between,
The wild rocks shaped, as they had turrets been,
In mockery of man's art; and these withal
A race of faces happy as the scene,

Whose fertile bounties here extend to all,
Still springing o'er thy banks, though Empires near them

fall.

LXII

But these recede. Above me are the Alps,
The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
And throned Eternity in icy halls
Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls
The avalanche-the thunderbolt of snow !
All that expands the spirit, yet appals,

Gather around these summits, as to show
How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man

below.

LXIII

But ere these matchless heights I dare to scan,
There is a spot should not be passed in vain,-

1 IIe enlarges on the rapid succession of beautiful objects—the precipice, the forest, the numerous Gothic churches and towns-on the Rhine.

Morat !1 the proud, the patriot field! where man
May gaze on ghastly trophies of the slain,
Nor blush for those who conquered on that plain ;
Here Burgundy bequeathed his tombless host,
A bony heap, through ages to remain,

Themselves their monument ;—the Stygian coast Unsepulchred they roamed, and shrieked each wandering

ghost.

LXIV

While Waterloo with Canna's ? carnage vies, Morat and Marathon twin names shall stand ; They were true Glory's stainless victories, Won by the unambitious heart and hand Of a proud, brotherly, and civic band, All unbought champions in no princely cause Of vice-entailed Corruption; they no land Doomed to bewail the blasphemy of laws Making kings' rights divine, 3 by some Draconic clause.

LXV

By a lone wall a lonelier column rears
A

gray and grief-worn aspect of old days;
'Tis the last remnant of the wreck of years,
And looks as with the wild-bewildered gaze
Of one to stone converted by amaze,
Yet still with consciousness, and there it stands
Making a marvel that it not decays,

When the coeval pride of human hands,
Levelled Aventicum,“ hath strewed her subject lands.

1 Morat.] North of Freyburg, in Switzerland. The Swiss defeated Charles the Bold of Burgundy, 1476, and on its battle-field achieved their independence. The skulls of the dead lay for centuries on the battle-field.

2 Canna.] The day of Rome's greatest disaster, the dies Cannensis. The Romans were defeated here, B.c. 216, by Hannibal. The village is on the banks of the Aufidus, in ancient Apulia.

3 Kings' rights dirine.] The political views of Byron were at this time strongly anti-monarchical. Under the influence of Count Gamba, to which family the Countess Guiccioli belonged, he had involved himself in the revolutionary societies of Italy. See · Island,' xiii.

4 Levelled Aventicum.] In opposition to coeval pride (line preceding). Aventicum, the old capital of Helvetia, the modern Arenches.

LXVI
And there-oh! sweet and sacred be the name !-
Julia —the daughter, the devoted-gave
Her youth to Heaven ; her heart, beneath a claim
Nearest to Heaven's, broke o'er a father's grave.
Justice is sworn 'gainst tears, and hers would crave
The life she lived in ; but the judge was just,
And then she died on him she could not save,

Their tomb was simple, and without a bust,
And held within their urn one mind, one heart, one dust.

LXVII

But these are deeds which should not pass away,
And names that must not wither, though the earth
Forgets her empires with a just decay,
The enslavers and the enslaved, their death and birth;
The high, the mountain-majesty of worth
Should be, and shall, survivor of its woe,
And from its immortality look forth

In the sun's face, like yonder Alpine snow,
Imperishably pure beyond all things below.

LXVIII
Lake Leman? woos me with its crystal face,
The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect in each trace
Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue :
There is too much of man here, to look through
With a fit mind the might which I behold ;
But soon in me shall Loneliness renew

Thoughts hid, but not less cherished than of old,
Ere mingling with the herd had penned me in their fold.

LXIX

To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind :
All are not fit with them to stir and toil,

1 Julia.] Julia Alpinula, the priestess of Avenches, died after a vain attempt to save her father, condemned to death by Aulus Cæcina, about A.D. 69. Her epitaph still remained unobliterated amidst universal ruin.

? Lake Leman.). The Lake of Geneva, Lacus Lemannus. • Prisoner of Chillon,' - Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls.'

Nor is it discontent to keep the mind
Deep in its fountain, lest it overboil
In the hot throng, where we become the spoil
Of our infection, till too late and long
We may deplore and struggle with the coil,

In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong
Midst a contentious world, striving where none are

strong.

LXX

There, in a moment, we may plunge our years
In fatal penitence, and in the blight
Of our own soul turn all our blood to tears,
And colour things to come with hues of Night;
The race of life becomes a hopeless flight
To those that walk in darkness : on the sea,
The boldest steer but where their ports invite ;

But there are wanderers o'er Eternity
Whose bark drives on and on, and anchor'd ne'er shall be.

LXXI
Is it not better, then, to be alone,
And love Earth only for its earthly sake ?
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone,
Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake,
Which feeds it as a mother who doth make
A fair but froward infant her own care,
Kissing its cries away as these awake

Is it not better thus our lives to wear,
Than join the crushing crowd, doomed to inflict or bear ?

LXXII

I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities torture :1 I can see
Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,

1 The influence of Shelley upon the mind of Byron is perceptible in many of his utterances in Canto iii. Shelley also had taught him to appreciate what is called the Lake School, especially Wordsworth, the priest of Nature. See lxix. and lxxii. Throughout the whole flows the Byronic nature, a deep melancholy (see lxv.). For Shelley's influence see Island, xvi. ; also • D. J.

' xy. 88, and xiv. 1, 2, 3, 4. For his feelings to Wordsworth, see Introduction.

« PreviousContinue »