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Fair Florence found, in sooth, with some amaze,
One who, 't was said, still sigh'd to all he saw,
Withstand, unmoved, the lustre of her gaze,
Which others hail'd with real or mimic awe,
Their hope, their doom, their punishment, their law;
All that gay beauty from her bondsmen claims :
And much she marvell’d that a youth so raw
Nor felt, nor feign'd at least, the oft-told flames,
Which, though sometimes they frown, yet rarely anger dames.
Little knew she that seeming marble-heart,
Now mask'd in silence or withheld by pride,
Was not unskilful in the spoiler's art,
And spread its snares licentious far and wide;
Nor from the base pursuit had turn'd aside,
As long as aught was worthy to pursue :
But Harold on such arts no more relied;
And had he doated on those eyes so blue,
Yet never would he join the lover's whining crew.
Not much he kens, I.ween, of woman's breast,
Who thinks that wanton thing is won by sighs ;
What careth she for hearts when once possess'd ?
Do proper homage to thine idol's eyes ;
But not too humbly, or she will despise
Thee and thy suit, though told in moving tropes :
Disguise even tenderness, if thou art wise ;
Brisk confidence still best with woman copes ;
Pique her and soothe in turn, soon passion crowns thy hopes.
'T is an old lesson ; time approves it true,
And those who know it best deplore it most ;
When all is won that all desire to woo,
The paltry prize is hardly worth the cost :
Youth wasted, minds degraded, honour lost,
These are thy fruits, successful passion! these!
If, kindly cruel, early hope is crost,
Still to the last it rankles, a disease
Not to be cured when love itself forgets to please.
Away! nor let me loiter in my song,
For we have many a mountain-path to tread,
And many a varied shore to sail along,
By pensive sadness, not by fiction, led
Climes, fair withal as ever mortal head
Imagined in its little schemes of thought;
Or e'er in new Utopias were read,
To teach man what he might be, or he ought;
If that corrupted thing could ever such be taught.
Dear nature is the kindest mother still,
Though always changing, in her aspect mild;
From her bare bosom let me take my fill,
Her never-wean'd, though not her favour'd child.
Oh! she is fairest in her features wild,
Where nothing polish'd dares pollute her path:
To me by day or night she ever smiled,
Though I have mark'd her when none other hath,
And sought her more and more, and loved her best in wrath.
Land of Albania! where Iskander rose,
Theme of the young, and beacon of the wise,
And he, his name-sake, whose oft-baffled foes
Shrunk from his deeds of chivalrous emprize:
Land of Albania !" let me bend mine eyes
On thee, thou rugged nurse of savage
men! The cross descends, thy minarets arise,
And the pale crescent sparkles in the glen,
Through many a cypress-grove within each city's ken.
Childe Harold sail'd, and pass'd the barren spot,"
Where sad Penelope o'erlook'd the wave;
And onward view'd the mount, not yet forgot,
The lover's refuge, and the Lesbian's grave.
Dark Sappho! conld not verse immortal save
That breast imbued with such immortal fire?
Could she not live who life eternal gave?
If life eternal may await the lyre,
That only heaven to which earth's children may aspire.
'T was on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve
Childe Harold hail'd Leucadia's cape afar:
A spot he long'd to see, nor cared to leave :
Oft did he mark the scenes of vanish'd war,
Actium, Lepanto, fatal Trafalgar ;13
Mark them unm
moved, for he would not delight (Born beneath some remote inglorious star)
In themes of bloody fray, or gallant fight, But loath'd the bravo's trade, and laugh'd at martial wight.
But when he saw the evening star above
Leucadia’s far-projecting rock of woe,
And hail'd the last resort of fruitless love, 14
He felt,or deem'd he felt, no common glow:
And as the stately vessel glided slow,
Beneath the shadow of that ancient mount,
He watch'd the billows' melancholy flow,
And, sunk albeit in thought as he was wont,
More placid seem'd his eye, and smooth his pallid front.
Morn dawns; and with it stern Albania's hills,
Dark Suli's rocks, and Pindus' inland peak,
Robed half in mist, bedew'd with snowy rills,
Array'd in many a dun and purple streak,
Arise ; and, as the clouds along them break,
Disclose the dwelling of the mountaineer:
Here roams the wolf, the eagle whets his beak,
Birds, beasts of prey, and wilder men appear,
And gathering storms around convulse the closing year.
Now Harold felt himself at length alone,
And bade to christian tongues a long adieu ;
Now he adventured on a shore unknown,
Which all admire, but many dread to view ;
His breast was arm’d ’gainst fate, his wants were few ;
Peril he sought not, but ne'er shrank to meet;
The scene was savage, but the scene was new ;
This made the ceaseless toil of travel sweet,
Beat back keen winter's blast, and welcomed summer's heat.
Here the red cross, for still the cross is here,
Though sadly scoff d at by the circumcised,
Forgets that pride to pampered priesthood dear,
Churchman and votary alike despised.
Foul superstition ! howsoe'er disguised,
Idol, saint, virgin, prophet, crescent, cross,
For whatsoever symbol thou art prized,
Thou sacerdotal gain, but general loss !
Who from true worship’s gold can separate thy dross ?
Ambracia's gulf behold, where once was lost
A world for woman, lovely, harmless thing !
In yonder rippling bay, their naval host
Did many a Roman chief and Asian king
To doubtful conflict, certain slaughter bring:
Look where the second Cæsar's trophies rose ! 16
Now, like the hands that rear'd them, withering.
Imperial anarchs, doubling human woes!
God! was thy globe ordain'd for such to win and lose ?
From the dark barriers of that rugged clime,
Even to the centre of Illyria's vales,
Childe Harold pass’d o'er many a mount sublime,
Through lands scarce noticed in historic tales ;
Yet in famed Attica such lovely dales
Are rarely seen; nor can fair Tempe boast
A charm they know not; loved Parnassus fails,
Though classic ground and consecrated most,
To match some spots that lurk within this lowering coast.
He pass'd bleak Pindus, Acherusia's lake,"?
And left the primal city of the land,
And onwards did his further journey take
To greet Albania's chief, 18 whose dread command
Is lawless law: for with a bloody hand
He sways a nation, turbulent and bold :
Yet here and there some daring mountain-band
Disdain his power, and from their rocky hold
Hurl their defiance far, nor yield, unless to gold."
Monastic Zitza !20 from thy shady brow,
Thou small, but favour'd spot of holy ground !
Where'er we gaze, around, above, below,
What rainbow tints, what magic charms are found !
Rock, river, forest, mountain all abound,
And bluest skies that harmonize the whole :
Beneath, the distant torrent's rushing sound
Tells where the volumed cataract doth roll
Between those hanging rocks, that shock yet please the soul.
Amidst the grove that crowns yon tufted hill,
Which, were it not for many a mountain nigh
Rising in lofty ranks, and loftier still,
Might well itself be deem'd of dignity,
The convent's white walls glisten fair on high :
Here dwells the caloyer,” nor rude is he,
Nor niggard of his cheer ; the passer by
Is welcome still ; nor heedless will he flee
From hence, if he delight kind Nature's sheen to see.
Here in the sultriest season let him rest,
Fresh is the green beneath those aged trees ;
Here winds of gentlest wing will fan his breast
From heaven itself he may inhale the breeze:
The plain is far beneath-oh! let him seize
Pure pleasure while he can ; the scorching‘ray
Here pierceth not, impregnate with disease :
Then let his length the loitering pilgrim lay,
And gaze, untired, the morn, the noon, the eve away.
Dusky and huge, enlarging on the sight,
Nature's volcanic amphitheatre, 12
Chimæra's Alps extend from left to right:
Beneath, a living valley seems to stir ;
Flocks play, trees wave, streams flow, the mountain fir
Nodding above: behold black Acheron !23
Once consecrated to the sepulchre.
Pluto! if this be hell I look upon,
Close shamed Elysium's gates, my shade shall seek for none !