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Enter : its grandeur overwhelms thee not;
And why? it is not lessen'd ; but thy mind,
Expanded by the genius of the spot,
Has grown colossal, and can only find
A fit abode, wherein appear
Thy hopes of immortality; and thou
Shalt one day, if found worthy, so defined,
See thy God face to face, as thou dost now His Holy of Holies, nor be blasted by his brow.
Thou movest—but increasing with the advance,
Like climbing some great Alp, which still doth rise,
Deceived by its gigantic elegance ;
Vastness which grows—but grows to harmonize-
All musical in its immensities :
Rich marbles-richer painting-shrines where flame
The lamps of gold—and haughty dome which vies
In air with earth's chief structures, though their frame
Sits on the firm-set ground—and this the clouds must claim.
Thou seest not all ; but piecemeal thou must break,
To separate contemplation, the great whole;
And as the ocean many bays will make,
That ask the eyemso here condense thy soul
To more immediate objects, and control
Thy thoughts until thy mind hath got by heart
Its eloquent proportions, and unroll
In mighty graduations, part by part,
The glory which at once upon thee did not dart,
Not by its fault_but thine : our outward sense
Is but of gradual grasp—and as it is
That what we have of feeling most intense
Outstrips our faint expression ; even so this
Outshining and o’erwhelming edifice
Fools our fond gaze, and, greatest of the great,
Defies at first our nature's littleness,
Till, growing with its growth, we thus dilate
Our spirits to the size of that they contemplate.
Then, pause, and be enlighten'd ; there is more
In such a survey than the sating gaze
Of wonder pleased, or awe which would adore
The worship of the place, or the mere praise
Of art and its great masters, who could raise
What former time, nor skill, nor thought could plan :
The fountain of sublimity displays
Its depth, and thence may draw the mind of man
Its golden sands, and learn what great conceptions can.
Or, turning to the Vatican, go see
Laocoon's torture dignifying pain-
A father's love and mortal's agony
With an immortal's patience blending :—vain
The struggle ; vain, against the coiling strain
And gripe, and deepening of the dragon's grasp,
The old man's clench ; the long envenom'd chain
Rivets the living links,—the enormous asp
Enforces pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp.
Or view the Lord of the unerring bow,
The god of life, and poesy, and light-
The sun in human limbs array'd, and brow
All radiant from his triumph in the fight;
The shaft hath just been shot—the arrow bright
With an immortal's vengeance;
eye And nostril beautiful disdain, and might,
And majesty, flash their full lightnings by, Developing in that one glance the deity.
But in his delicate form-a dream of love,
Shaped by some solitary nymph, whose breast
Long’d for a deathless lover from above,
And madden'd in that vision—are exprest
All that ideal beauty ever bless'd
The mind with in its most unearthly mood,
When each conception was a heavenly guest-
A ray of immortality—and stood,
Star-like, around, until they gather'd to a god!
And if it be Prometheus stole from heaven
The fire which we endure, it was repaid
By him to whom the energy was given
Which this poetic marble hath array'd
With an eternal glory—which, if made
By human hands, is not of human thought;
And Time himself hath hallow'd it, nor laid
One ringlet in the dust-nor hath it caught
A tinge of years, but breathes the flame with which 't was wrought.
But where is he, the Pilgrim of my song,
The being who upheld it through the past?
Methinks he cometh late and tarries long.
He is no more—these breathings are his last ;
His wanderings done, his visions ebbing fast,
And he himself as nothing : if he was
Aught but a phantasy, and could be class'd
With forms which live and suffer-let that pass—
His shadow fades
into destruction's mass ;
Which gathers shadow, substance, life, and all
That we inherit, in its mortal shroud,
And spreads the dim and universal pall
Through which all things grow phantoms ; and the cloud
Between us sinks, and all which ever glow'd,
Till glory's self is twilight, and displays
A melancholy halo scarce allow'd
To hover on the verge of darkness ; rays
Sadder than saddest night, for they distract the gaze,
And send us prying into the abyss,
To gather what we shall be when the frame
Shall be resolved to something less than this
Its wretched essence; and to dream of fame,
And wipe the dust from off the idle name
We never more shall hear,—but never more,
Oh, happier thought! can we be made the same :
It is enough in sooth that once we bore
These fardels of the heart-the heart whose sweat was gore.
Hark! forth from the abyss a voice proceeds,
A long low distant murmur of dread sound,
Such as arises when a nation bleeds
With some deep and immedicable wound;
Through storm and darkness yawns the rending ground,
The gulf is thick with phantoms, but the chief
Seems royal still, though with her head discrown'd,
And pale, but lovely, with maternal grief
She clasps a babe, to whom her breast yields no relief.
Scion of chiefs and monarchs, where art thou ?
Fond hope of many nations, art thou dead ?
Could not the grave forget thee, and lay low
Some less majestic, less beloved head?
In the sad midnight, while thy heart still bled,
The mother of a moment, o'er thy boy,
Death hush'd that
ever : with thee fled The present happiness and promised joy Which fill’d the imperial isles so full it seem'd to cloy.
Peasants bring forth in safety.-Can it be,
O thou that wert so happy, so adored!
Those who weep not for kings shall weep for thee,
And Freedom's heart, grown heavy, cease to hoard
Her many griefs for one ; for she had pour'd
Her orisons for thee, and o’er thy head
Beheld her Iris.—Thou, too, lonely lord,
And desolate consort--vainly wert thou wed!
The husband of a year! the father of the dead !
Of sackcloth was thy wedding garment made;
Thy bridal's fruit is ashes : in the dust
The fair-hair'd daughter of the isles is laid,
The love of millions ! How we did entrust
Futurity to her! and, though it must
Darken above our bones, yet fondly deem'd
Our children should obey her child, and bless'd
Her and her hoped-for seed, whose promise seein'd
Like stars to shepherds' eyes :--'t was but a meteor beam'd.
Woe unto us, not her, for she sleeps well :
The fickle wreath of popular breath, the tongue
Of hollow counsel, the false oracle,
Which from the birth of monarchy hath rung
Its knell in princely ears, till the o’erstung
Nations have arm'd in madness, the strange fate
Which tumbles mightiest sovereigns, 69 and hath flung
Against their blind omnipotence a weight
Within the opposing scale, which crushes soon or late-
These might have been her destiny. But no,
Our hearts deny it: and so young, so fair,
Good without effort, great without a foe;
But now a bride and mother and now there!
ties did that stern moment tear! From thy sire's to his humblest subject's breast Is link'd the electric chain of that despair,
Whose shock was as an earthquake's, and opprest The land which loved thee so that none could love thee berta
Lo, Nemi! ? navell'd in the woody hills
So far, that the uprooting wind, which tears
The oak from his foundation, and which spills
The ocean o'er its boundary, and bears
Its foam against the skies, reluctant spares
The oval mirror of thy glassy lake;
And, calm as cherish'd hate, its surface wears
A deep cold settled aspect nought can shake,
All coil'd into itself and round, as sleeps the snake. :
Albano's scarce divided waves
Shine from a sister valley ;-and afar
The Tiber winds, and the broad ocean laves
The Latian coast where sprung the Epic war,
“ Arms and the man,” whose re-ascending star
Rose o’er an empire ;-but beneath thy right
Tully reposed from Rome ;-and where yon bar
Of girdling mountains intercepts the sight,
The Sabine farm was till’d, the weary bard's delight.?