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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/295

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CANTO II.]
257
THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

Thou, in whose pleasant places Summer builds
Her palace, in whose cradle Empire grew,
And formed the Eternal City's ornaments
From spoils of Kings whom freemen overthrew;
Birthplace of heroes, sanctuary of Saints,
Where earthly first, then heavenly glory made[1]
Her home; thou, all which fondest Fancy paints,60
And finds her prior vision but portrayed
In feeble colours, when the eye—from the Alp
Of horrid snow, and rock, and shaggy shade
Of desert-loving pine, whose emerald scalp
Nods to the storm—dilates and dotes o'er thee,
And wistfully implores, as 'twere, for help
To see thy sunny fields, my Italy,
Nearer and nearer yet, and dearer still
The more approached, and dearest were they free,
Thou—Thou must wither to each tyrant's will:70
The Goth hath been,—the German, Frank, and Hun[2]
Are yet to come,—and on the imperial hill
Ruin, already proud of the deeds done
By the old barbarians, there awaits the new,
Throned on the Palatine, while lost and won
Rome at her feet lies bleeding; and the hue
Of human sacrifice and Roman slaughter
Troubles the clotted air, of late so blue,
And deepens into red the saffron water
Of Tiber, thick with dead; the helpless priest,80
And still more helpless nor less holy daughter,
Vowed to their God, have shrieking fled, and ceased
Their ministry: the nations take their prey,
Iberian, Almain, Lombard, and the beast
And bird, wolf, vulture, more humane than they

Are; these but gorge the flesh, and lap the gore
  1. Where earthly Glory first then Heavenly made.—[MS. Alternative reading.]
    Where Glory first, and then Religion made.—[MS. erased.]
  2. [Compare—

    "The Goth, the Christian—Time—War—Flood, and Fire,
    Have dealt upon the seven-hilled City's pride."

    Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza lxxx. lines 1, 2,
    Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 390, note 2.]