ODE ON VENICE.
Oh Venice! Venice! when thy marble walls
Are level with the waters, there shall be
A cry of nations o'er thy sunken halls,
A loud lament along the sweeping sea!
If I, a northern wanderer, weep for thee,
What should thy sons do?—anything but weep:
And yet they only murmur in their sleep.
In contrast with their fathers—as the slime,
The dull green ooze of the receding deep,
Is with the dashing of the spring-tide foam,10
That drives the sailor shipless to his home,
Are they to those that were; and thus they creep,
Crouching and crab-like, through their sapping streets.
Oh! agony—that centuries should reap
No mellower harvest! Thirteen hundred years
Of wealth and glory turned to dust and tears;
And every monument the stranger meets,
Church, palace, pillar, as a mourner greets;
- [The Ode on Venice (originally Ode) was completed by July 10, 1818 (Letters, 1900, iv. 245), but was published at the same time as Mazeppa and A Fragment, June 28, 1819. The motif, a lamentation over the decay and degradation of Venice, re-echoes the sentiments expressed in the opening stanzas (i.–xix.) of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold. A realistic description of the "Hour of Death" (lines 37–55), and a eulogy of the United States of America (lines 133–160), give distinction to the Ode.]
- [Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza xiii. lines 4–6.]
- [Compare ibid., stanza xi. lines 5–9.]