Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

CLIII.
But lo! the dome - - the vast and wondrous dome, (').
To which Diana's marvel was a cell -
Christ's mighty shrine above his martyr's tomb !
I have beheld the Ephesian's miracle -
Its columns strew the wilderness, and dwell
The hyæna and the jackall in their shade ;
I have beheld Sophia's bright roofs swell

Their glittering mass i' the sun, and have survey'd
Its sanctuary the while the usurping Moslem pray'd ;

CLIV.
But thou, of temples old, or altars new,
Standest alone — with nothing like to thee-
Worthiest of God, the holy and the true.
Since Zion's desolation, when that Ho
Forsook his former city, what could be,
Of earthly structures, in his honour piled,
or a sublimer aspect ? Majesty,

Power, Glory, Strength, and Beauty, all are aisled
In this eternal ark of worship undefiled.

CLV.
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 enshrined
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.

CLVI.
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 harmonise
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.

(1) This and the six next stanzas have a reference to the church of St. Peter's. For a measurement of the comparative length of this basilicn, and the other groat churches of Europe, soo tho pavement of St. Poter's, and tho classical Tour through Italy, vol. ii. pag. 125. et seq. chap. iv.

CLVII.

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 eye

so 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,

CLVIII.

Not by its fault — but thine : Our outward senso
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.

CLIX.

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.

CLX.

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.

CLXI.

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 ; in his eye
And nostril beautiful disdain, and might

And majesty, flash their full lightnings by,
Developing in that one glance the Deity.

CI.XII.

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,
Starlike, around, until they gather'd to a god!

CLXIII.

And if it be Prometheus stole from Heaven
The fire which we endure, it was repaid
By him to whom the energy was given
Vi hich this poetic marble hath array'd
With an eternal glory — which if made,
Ly human hands; is not of human thought;
And Time himself hath hallow'd it, nor laid

One ringlet in the dust - nor huth it caught
A tinge of years, but breathes the flame with which 'twas

wrought.

CLXIV.

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 Ilis shaduw fudes away

iuto Destruction's muss,

[ocr errors]

Jet that pass

CLXV.

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 selt 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,

CLXVI.

And send us prying into the abyss,
To gather what we shall be when the frame
Shall be resolved to something less than this
Ils 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.

CLXVII.

Hark! forth from the abyss a voice proceeds,
A long low distant murinur 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.

CLXVIII.

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 legs majestic, less beloved head?
In the sad midnight, while thy heart still bled,
Che mother of a moment, o'er thy boy,
Death hush'd that pang for ever: with thee fled

The present happiness and promised joy
Which fill'd the inperial isles so full it seem'd to cloy.

CLXIX.
Peasants bring forth in safety. - Can it be,
Oh 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 !

CLXX.

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 intrust
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 seem'd
Like stars to shepherds' eyes : - 'twas but a meteor beam'd.

CLXXI.
Woo unto us, not her; for she sleeps well :
The fickle reek 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, and hath flung

Against their blind omnipotence a weight
Within the opposing scale, which crushes soon or late,

CLXXII.
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!
How
many

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 best.

(1) Mary died on the scaffold ; Elizabeth of a broken heart; Charles V. a hermit; Louis XIV. a bankrupt in means and glory ; Cromwell of anxiety; and," the greatC.:1 is behind," Napoleon livos a prisoner. To theso sovoroigns a long but suporflize ous list might be added of names equally illustrious and unhappy.

« ForrigeFortsett »