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Lord Byron (1788–1824). Poetry of Byron. 1881.

II. Descriptive and Narrative

Venice, II

(Childe Harold, Canto iv. Stanzas 11–13.)

THE SPOUSELESS Adriatic mourns her lord;

And, annual marriage, now no more renew’d,

The Bucentaur lies rotting unrestored,

Neglected garment of her widowhood!

St. Mark yet sees his lion where he stood,

Stand, but in mockery of his wither’d power,

Over the proud Place where an Emperor sued,

And monarchs gazed and envied in the hour

When Venice was a queen with an unequall’d dower.

The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns—

An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt;

Kingdoms are shrunk to provinces, and chains

Clank over sceptred cities; nations melt

From power’s high pinnacle, when they have felt

The sunshine for a while, and downward go

Like lauwine loosen’d from the mountain’s belt;

Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo!

Th’ octogenarian chief, Byzantium’s conquering foe.

Before St. Mark still glow his steeds of brass,

Their gilded collars glittering in the sun;

But is not Doria’s menace come to pass?

Are they not bridled?—Venice, lost and won,

Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done,

Sinks, like a sea-weed, into whence she rose!

Better be whelm’d beneath the waves, and shun,

Even in destruction’s depth, her foreign foes,

From whom submission wrings an infamous repose.