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CLXXI. Wo unto us, not her; for she sleeps well: The fickle reed 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 (69) Which tumbles mightiest sovereigns, 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 !
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
(70) 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.
CLXXIV. And near 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 tilld, the weary bard's delight.(71)
CLXXV. But I forget.—My pilgrim's shrine is won, And he and I must part,--so let it be, His task and mine alike are nearly done; Yet once more let us look upon the sea; The midland ocean breaks on him and me, And from the Alban Mount we now behold Our friend of youth, that ocean, which when we Beheld it last by Calpe's rock unfold Those waves, we follow'd on till the dark Euxine roll'd
CLXXVI. Upon the blue Symplegades : long years Long, though not very many, since have done Their work on both; some suffering and some tears Have left us nearly where we had begun : Yet not in vain our mortal race hath run, We have had our reward-and it is here; That we can yet feel gladden'd by the sun,
And reap from earth, sea, joy almost as dear As if there were no man to trouble what is clear,
Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling place,
With one fair Spirit for my minister,
That I might all forget the human race,
And, hating no one, love but only her!
Ye Elements !-in whose ennobling stir
I feel myself exalted-Can ye not
Accord me such a being? Do I err
In deeming such inhabit many a spot?
Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet can not all conceal.
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean-roll !
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin-his control
Stops with the shore ;--upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknell'a, uncoffin'd, and unknown.
CLXXX. His steps are not upon thy paths,-thy fields Are not a spoil for him,- thou dost arise And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields For earth's destruction thou dost all despise. Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies, And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray And howling, to his Gods, where haply lies His petty hope in some near port or bay, And dashest him again to earth :there let him lay:
The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals,
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts :--not so thou,
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play-
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow-
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now,
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving ;-boundless, endless, and sublime :
The image of Eternity--the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward : from a boy
I wanton'd with thy breakers--they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror-'twas a pleasing fear,
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane-as I do here.
My task is done-my song hath ceased-my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted dream.
The torch shall be extinguish'd which hath lit
My midnight lamp--and what is writ, is writ,--
Would it were worthier! but I am not now
That which I have been-and my visions flit
Less palpably before me—and the glow
Which in my spirit dwelt, is futtering, faint and low.