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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/234

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196
ODE ON VENICE.

And trample on each other to obtain
The cup which brings oblivion of a chain
Heavy and sore,—in which long yoked they ploughed
The sand,—or if there sprung the yellow grain,
'Twas not for them, their necks were too much bowed,90
And their dead palates chewed the cud of pain:—
Yes! the few spirits—who, despite of deeds
Which they abhor, confound not with the cause
Those momentary starts from Nature's laws,
Which, like the pestilence and earthquake, smite
But for a term, then pass, and leave the earth
With all her seasons to repair the blight
With a few summers, and again put forth
Cities and generations—fair, when free—
For, Tyranny, there blooms no bud for thee!100


III.

Glory and Empire! once upon these towers[1]
With Freedom—godlike Triad! how you sate!
The league of mightiest nations, in those hours
When Venice was an envy, might abate,
But did not quench, her spirit—in her fate
All were enwrapped: the feasted monarchs knew
And loved their hostess, nor could learn to hate,
Although they humbled—with the kingly few
The many felt, for from all days and climes
She was the voyager's worship;—even her crimes110
Were of the softer order, born of Love—
She drank no blood, nor fattened on the dead,
But gladdened where her harmless conquests spread;
For these restored the Cross, that from above
Hallowed her sheltering banners, which incessant
Flew between earth and the unholy Crescent,[2]
Which, if it waned and dwindled, Earth may thank
The city it has clothed in chains, which clank

Now, creaking in the ears of those who owe
  1. [Compare Lord Tennyson's stanzas—

    "Of old sat Freedom on the heights."]

  2. [Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza xiv. line 3, note 1 and line 6, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 339, 340.]