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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII. 1876–79.


Palazzo Lioni

By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

(From Marino Faliero, Act IV, Scene I)

AROUND me are the stars and waters,—

Worlds mirrored in the ocean, goodlier sight

Than torches glared back by a gaudy glass;

And the great element, which is to space

What ocean is to earth, spreads its blue depths,

Softened with the first breathings of the spring;

The high moon sails upon her beauteous way

Serenely smoothing o’er the lofty walls

Of those tall piles and sea-girt palaces,

Whose porphyry pillars, and whose costly fronts,

Fraught with the orient spoil of many marbles,

Like altars ranged along the broad canal,

Seem each a trophy of some mighty deed

Reared up from out the waters, scarce less strangely

Than those more massy and mysterious giants

Of architecture, those Titanian fabrics,

Which point in Egypt’s plains to times that have

No other record. All is gentle: naught

Stirs rudely; but, congenial with the night,

Whatever walks is gliding like a spirit.

The tinklings of some vigilant guitars

Of sleepless lovers to a wakeful mistress,

And cautious opening of the casement, showing

That he is not unheard; while her young hand,

Fair as the moonlight of which it seems part,

So delicately white, it trembles in

The act of opening the forbidden lattice,

To let in love through music, makes his heart

Thrill like his lyre-strings at the sight; the dash

Phosphoric of the oar, or rapid twinkle

Of the far lights of skimming gondolas,

And the responsive voices of the choir

Of boatmen answering back with verse for verse;

Some dusky shadow checkering the Rialto,

Some glimmering palace roof, or tapering spire,

Are all the sights and sounds which here pervade

The ocean-born and earth-commanding city.