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Look on its broken arch, its ruined wall,
And Passion's host, that never brooked control :
Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son!
Yet if, as holiest men have deemed, there be
With those who made our mortal labours light!
The Bactrian, Samian3 sage, and all who taught the right!
1 All that we know is, nothing can be known.] This is rather teaching of the Ionian school, návτa peî, or of the sophists, than of the wisest of Athens' sons-Socrates-or of his disciple Plato, who admitted the possibility of a knowledge of that which was real and immutable-Tò öv or voúμevov. See the 'Nosce teipsum' of Socrates. 2 Acheron.] See stanza li. note 2.
5 Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.'
4 Bactrian.] Zoroaster, who recognised and taught the principle of the dualism of good and evil, about 500 B.C.
5 Samian.] Pythagoras, about 583 B.C., one of whose most
There, thou!-whose love and life together fled,
For me 'twere bliss enough to know thy spirit blest!
Here let me sit upon this massy stone,
But who, of all the plunderers of yon fane
The last, the worst, dull spoiler, who was he?
Thy free-born men should spare what once was free;
And bear these altars o'er the long-reluctant brine.*
practical tenets was by tradition reputed to be the importance of daily self-examination.
i Vacant.] Conf. Horace, Od. i. 5, 10, Qui semper vacuam unoccupied by any other love, constant.
2 Son of Saturn.] The temple of Zeus Olympius.
3 Where Pallas lingered.] The Parthenon, for the spoliation of which Byron thus vituperates Lord Elgin, the Pict,' who sold 'the Elgin marbles' obtained from Athens, to the British nation in 1816. Byron classes Elgin with Alaric in 'Curse of Minerva.'
4 Long-reluctant brine.] The ship conveying them was wrecked in the Archipelago.
But most the modern Pict's ignoble boast
To rive what Goth, and Turk, and Time hath spared : Cold as the crags upon his native coast,
His mind as barren and his heart as hard,
Is he whose head conceived, whose hand prepared,
Her sons too weak the sacred shrine to guard,
What! shall it e'er be said by British tongue,
Though in thy name the slaves her bosom wrung,
Where was thine Ægis, Pallas! that appalled
Stern Alaric1 and Havoc on their
Where Peleus'1 son? whom Hell in vain enthralled,
Bursting to light in terrible array!
What! could not Pluto spare the chief once more,
Idly he wandered on the Stygian shore,
Nor now preserved the walls he loved to shield before.
Cold is the heart, fair Greece! that looks on thee,
Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed
1 Alaric.] The Goth, was driven out of Greece by Stilicho, A.D. 402. The popular story is here alluded to, that Athens was defended by the shade Achilles, Peleus' son,' released from the Stygian shore.
By British hands, which it had best behoved
To guard those relics ne'er to be restored.
And snatched thy shrinking Gods to northern climes abhorred !
But where is Harold? shall I then forget
No loved-one now in feigned lament could rave;
And left without a sigh the land of war and crimes.
He that has sailed upon the dark blue sea
And oh, the little warlike world within! The well-reeved guns, the netted canopy,3 The hoarse command, the busy humming din, When, at a word, the tops are manned on high; Hark, to the Boatswain's call, the cheering cry! While through the seaman's hand the tackle glides ; Or schoolboy Midshipman that, standing by, Strains his shrill pipe as good or ill betides, And well the docile crew that skilful urchin guides.
1 The dullest sailer.] The slowest vessel skimming quickly on. 2 Well-reeved.] Carefully secured by ropes.
The netted canopy.] The awning intended to ward off splinters from those on deck.
White is the glassy deck, without a stain,
Where on the watch the staid Lieutenant walks : Look on that part which sacred doth remain For the lone chieftain, who majestic stalks, Silent and feared by all-not oft he talks With aught beneath him, if he would preserve That strict restraint, which broken, ever balks Conquest and fame but Britons rarely swerve From law, however stern, which tends their strength to
Blow! swiftly blow, thou keel-compelling gale!
The flapping sail hauled down to halt for logs like these!
The moon is up; by Heaven, a lovely eve!
Or to some well-known measure featly move, Thoughtless, as if on shore they still were free to rove.
Through Calpe's straits 2 survey the steepy shore;
1 Arion.] The story is told by Herodotus of Arion, the inventor of the dithyramb (in honour of Dionysus), and the sailors who threw him into the sea in place of putting him to a more violent death, being won by the power of his song. A dolphin conveyed him to Corinth.
2 Calpe's straits.] Gibraltar.