Imatges de pÓgina
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SONNET:

POLITICAL GREATNESS.

NOR happiness, nor majesty, nor fame,

Nor peace, nor strength, nor skill in arms or arts,
Shepherd those herds whom tyranny makes tame;
Verse echoes not one beating of their hearts,
History is but the shadow of their shame,
Art veils her glass, or from the pageant starts
As to oblivion their blind millions fleet,

Staining that Heaven with obscene imagery
Of their own likeness. What are numbers knit
By force or custom? Man who man would be,

Must rule the empire of himself; in it
Must be supreme, establishing his throne
On vanquished will, quelling the anarchy
Of hopes and fears, being himself alone.

1821.

ODE TO LIBERTY.

Yet, Freedom, yet thy banner torn but flying,
Streams like a thunder-storm against the wind.

A GLORIOUS people vibrated again :
The lightning of the nations, Liberty,

BYRON.

From heart to heart, from tower to tower, o'er Spain,
Scattering contagious fire into the sky,
Gleamed. My soul spurned the chains of its dismay,
And, in the rapid plumes of song,
Clothed itself, sublime and strong;

As a young eagle soars the morning clouds among,
Hovering in verse o'er its accustomed prey;
Till from its station in the heaven of fame
The Spirit's whirlwind rapt it, and the ray
Of the remotest sphere of living flame
Which paves the void was from behind it flung,
As foam from a ship's swiftness, when there came
A voice out of the deep: I will record the same.

The Sun and the serenest Moon sprang forth;
The burning stars of the abyss were hurled
Into the depths of heaven. The dædal earth,
That island in the ocean of the world,
Hung in its cloud of all-sustaining air:
But this divinest universe

Was yet a chaos and a curse,

For thou wert not: but power from worst producing

worse,

The spirit of the beasts was kindled there,

And of the birds, and of the watery forms, And there was war among them, and despair

Within them, raging without truce or terms: The bosom of their violated nurse

Groaned, for beasts warred on beasts, and worms

on worms,

And men on men; each heart was as a hell of storms.

Man, the imperial shape, then multiplied

His generations under the pavilion
Of the Sun's throne: palace and pyramid,

Temple and prison, to many a swarming million, Were, as to mountain-wolves their ragged caves. This human living multitude

Was savage, cunning, blind, and rude, For thou wert not; but o'er the populous solitude, Like one fierce cloud over a waste of waves Hung Tyranny; beneath, sate deified The sister-pest, congregator of slaves;

Into the shadow of her pinions wide

Anarchs and priests who feed on gold and blood,
Till with the stain their inmost souls are dyed,
Drove the astonished herds of men from every side.

The nodding promontories, and blue isles,

And cloud-like mountains, and dividuous waves Of Greece, basked glorious in the open smiles Of favouring heaven: from their enchanted caves Prophetic echoes flung dim melody.

On the unapprehensive wild

The vine, the corn, the olive mild,

Grew savage yet, to human use unreconciled;

And, like unfolded flowers beneath the sea,

Like the man's thought dark in the infant's brain, Like aught that is which wraps what is to be,

Art's deathless dreams lay veiled by many a vein Of Parian stone; and yet a speechless child, Verse murmured, and Philosophy did strain Her lidless eyes for thee; when o'er the Ægean main

Athens arose a city such as vision

Builds from the purple crags and silver towers
Of battlemented cloud, as in derision
Of kingliest masonry: the ocean-floors
Pave it; the evening sky pavilions it;
Its portals are inhabited

By thunder-zonèd winds, each head
Within its cloudy wings with sunfire garlanded,
A divine work! Athens diviner yet

Gleamed with its crest of columns, on the will Of man, as on a mount of diamond, set;

For thou wert, and thine all-creative skill Peopled with forms that mock the eternal dead In marble immortality, that hill

Which was thine earliest throne and latest oracle.

Within the surface of Time's fleeting river

Its wrinkled image lies, as then it lay

Immovably unquiet, and for ever

It trembles, but it cannot pass away! The voices of thy bards and sages thunder With an earth-awakening blast

Through the caverns of the past;

Religion veils her eyes; Oppression shrinks aghast :

A winged sound of joy, and love, and wonder,
Which soars where Expectation never flew,
Rending the veil of space and time asunder!

One ocean feeds the clouds, and streams, and dew; One sun illumines heaven; one spirit vast

With life and love makes chaos ever new,

As Athens doth the world with thy delight renew.

Then Rome was, and from thy deep bosom fairest,
Like a wolf-cub from a Cadmæan Mænad,
She drew the milk of greatness, though thy dearest
From that Elysian food was yet unweaned;
And many a deed of terrible uprightness

By thy sweet love was sanctified;

And in thy smile, and by thy side, Saintly Camillus lived, and firm Atilius died. But when tears stained thy robe of vestal whiteness, And gold profaned thy capitolian throne, Thou didst desert, with spirit-wingèd lightness, The senate of the tyrants: they sunk prone

Slaves of one tyrant: Palatinus sighed

Faint echoes of Ionian song; that tone

Thou didst delay to hear, lamenting to disown.

From what Hyrcanian glen or frozen hill,
Or piny promontory of the Arctic main,
Or utmost islet inaccessible,

Didst thou lament the ruin of thy reign,
Teaching the woods and waves, and desert rocks,
And every Naiad's ice-cold urn,

To talk in echoes sad and stern,

Of that sublimest lore which man had dared unlearn?

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