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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/290

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[CANTO I.
THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

O'er humbled heads and severed necks——Great God!
Take these thoughts from me—to thy hands I yield
My many wrongs, and thine Almighty rod120
Will fall on those who smote me,—be my shield!
As thou hast been in peril, and in pain,
In turbulent cities, and the tented field—
In toil, and many troubles borne in vain
For Florence,—I appeal from her to Thee!
Thee, whom I late saw in thy loftiest reign,
Even in that glorious Vision, which to see
And live was never granted until now,
And yet thou hast permitted this to me.
Alas! with what a weight upon my brow130
The sense of earth and earthly things come back,
Corrosive passions, feelings dull and low,
The heart's quick throb upon the mental rack,
Long day, and dreary night; the retrospect
Of half a century bloody and black,
And the frail few years I may yet expect
Hoary and hopeless, but less hard to bear,
For I have been too long and deeply wrecked
On the lone rock of desolate Despair,
To lift my eyes more to the passing sail140
Which shuns that reef so horrible and bare;
Nor raise my voice—for who would heed my wail?
I am not of this people, nor this age,
And yet my harpings will unfold a tale
Which shall preserve these times when not a page
Of their perturbéd annals could attract
An eye to gaze upon their civil rage,[1]
Did not my verse embalm full many an act
Worthless as they who wrought it: 'tis the doom
Of spirits of my order to be racked150
In life, to wear their hearts out, and consume
Their days in endless strife, and die alone;
Then future thousands crowd around their tomb,
And pilgrims come from climes where they have known
The name of him—who now is but a name,

And wasting homage o'er the sullen stone,
  1. —— their civic rage.—[MS. Alternative reading.]