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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/303

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CANTO III.]
265
THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

And he, their Prince, shall rank among my peers,[1]100
And Love shall he his torment; but his grief
Shall make an immortality of tears,
And Italy shall hail him as the Chief
Of Poet-lovers, and his higher song
Of Freedom wreathe him with as green a leaf.
But in a farther age shall rise along
The banks of Po two greater still than he;
The World which smiled on him shall do them wrong
Till they are ashes, and repose with me.
The first will make an epoch with his lyre,110
And fill the earth with feats of Chivalry:[2]
His Fancy like a rainbow, and his Fire,
Like that of Heaven, immortal, and his Thought
Borne onward with a wing that cannot tire;
Pleasure shall, like a butterfly new caught,
Flutter her lovely pinions o'er his theme,
And Art itself seem into Nature wrought
By the transparency of his bright dream.—
The second, of a tenderer, sadder mood,
Shall pour his soul out o'er Jerusalem;120
He, too, shall sing of Arms, and Christian blood
Shed where Christ bled for man; and his high harp
Shall, by the willow over Jordan's flood,
Revive a song of Sion, and the sharp
Conflict, and final triumph of the brave
And pious, and the strife of Hell to warp
Their hearts from their great purpose, until wave
The red-cross banners where the first red Cross
Was crimsoned from His veins who died to save,[3]
Shall be his sacred argument; the loss130
Of years, of favour, freedom, even of fame
Contested for a time, while the smooth gloss

Of Courts would slide o'er his forgotten name
  1. Petrarch. [Dante died September 14, 1321, when Petrarch, born July 20, 1304, had entered his eighteenth year.]
  2. [Historical events may be thrown into the form of prophecy with some security, but not so the critical opinions of the soi-disant prophet. If Byron had lived half a century later, he might have placed Ariosto and Tasso after and not before Petrarch.]
  3. Was crimsoned with his veins who died to save,
    Shall be his glorious argument ——.—[MS. Alternative reading.]