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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/287

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CANTO 1.]
249
THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

For mine is not a nature to be bent
By tyrannous faction, and the brawling crowd,
And though the long, long conflict hath been spent
In vain,—and never more, save when the cloud
Which overhangs the Apennine my mind's eye
Pierces to fancy Florence, once so proud
Of me, can I return, though but to die,40
Unto my native soil,—they have not yet
Quenched the old exile's spirit, stern and high.
But the Sun, though not overcast, must set
And the night cometh; I am old in days,
And deeds, and contemplation, and have met
Destruction face to face in all his ways.
The World hath left me, what it found me, pure,
And if I have not gathered yet its praise,
I sought it not by any baser lure;
Man wrongs, and Time avenges, and my name50
May form a monument not all obscure,
Though such was not my Ambition's end or aim,
To add to the vain-glorious list of those
Who dabble in the pettiness of fame,
And make men's fickle breath the wind that blows
Their sail, and deem it glory to be classed
With conquerors, and Virtue's other foes,
In bloody chronicles of ages past.
I would have had my Florence great and free;[1]

Oh Florence! Florence![2] unto me thou wast60
  1. "L'Esilio che m' è dato onor mi tegno

    *****

    Cader tra' buoni è pur di lode degno."

    Sonnet of Dante [Canzone xx. lines 76-80,
    Opere di Dante, 1897, p. 171]

    in which he represents Right, Generosity, and Temperance as banished from among men, and seeking refuge from Love, who inhabits his bosom.

  2. [Compare— {{block center|"On the stone
    Called Dante's,—a plain flat stone scarce discerned
    From others in the pavement,—whereupon
    He used to bring his quiet chair out, turned
    To Brunelleschi's Church, and pour alone
    The lava of his spirit when it burned:
    It is not cold to-day. O passionate
    Poor Dante, who, a banished Florentine,