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CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.

CANTO THE SECOND.

I.

COME, blue-eyed maid of heaven!-- but thou, alas !
Didst never yet one mortal song inspire.
Goddess of Wisdom! here thy temple was,
And is, despite of war and wasting fire, (")
And
years,

that bade thy worship to expire :
But worse than steel, and flame, and ages slow,
Is the dread sceptre and dominion dire

Of men who never felt the sacred glow
That thoughts of thee and thine on polish'd breasts bestow. (*)

(1) Part of the Acropolis was destroyed by the explosion of a magazine during the Venetian siege.

(2) We can all feel, or imagine, the regret with which the ruins of cities, once the capitals of empires, are beheld: the reflections suggested by such objects are too trite to require recapitulation. But never did the littleness of man, and the vanity of his very best virtues, of patriotism to exalt, and of valour to defend his country, appear more conspicuous than in the record of what Athens was, and the certainty of what she now is. This theatre of contention between mighty factions, of the struggles of orators, the exaltation and deposition of tyrants, the triumph and punishment of generals, is now become a scene of petty intrigue and perpetual disturbance, between the bickering agents of certain British nobility and gentry. “The wild foxes, the owls and serpents in the ruins of Babylon," were surely less degrading than such inhabitants. The Turks have the plea of conquest for their tyranny, and the Greeks have only suffered the fortune of war, incidental to the bravest ; but how are the mighty fallen, when two painters contest the privilege of plundering the Parthenon, and triumph in turn, according to the tenor of each succeeding firman! Sylla could but punish, Philip subdue, and Xerxes burn Athens; but it remained for the paltry antiquarian, and his despicable agents, to render her contemptible as himself and his pursuits. The Parthenon, before its destruction in part, by fire during the Venetian siege, had been a temple, a church, and a mosque. In each point of view it is an object of regard : it changed its worshippers; but still it was a piace of worship thrice sacred to devotion : its violation is a triple sacrilege. But

“ Man, vain man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep."

II.

Ancient of days! august Athena! where,
Where are thy men of might? thy grand in soul ?
Gone - glimmering through the dream of things that were :
First in the race that led to Glory's goal,
They won, and pass’d away is this the whole ?
A schoolboy's tale, the wonder of an hour!
The warrior's weapon and the sophist's stole

Are sought in vain, and o'er each mouldering tower,
Dim with the mist of years, gray flits the shade of power.

III.

Son of the morning, rise! approach you here !
Come — but molest not yon defenceless urn :
Look on this spot a nation's sepulchre !
Abode of gods, whose shrines no longer burn.
Even gods must yield — religions take their turn :
'Twas Jove's 'tis Mahomet's - and other creeds
Will rise with other years, till man shall lea:n

Vainly his incense soars, his victim bleeds ;
Poor child of Doubt and Death, whose hope is built on reeds.

IV.

Bound to the earth, he lifts his eye to heaven -
Is't not enough, unhappy thing ! to know
Thou art? Is this a boon so kindly given,
That being, thou would'st be again, and go,
Thou know'st not, reck'st not to what region, so
On earth no more, but mingled with the skies?
Still wilt thou dream on future joy and woe?

Regard and weigh yon dust before it flies :
That little urn saith more than thousand homilies.

V.

Or burst the vanish'd Hero's lofty mound ;
Far on the solitary shore he sleeps : (")
He fell, and falling nations mourn'd around;
But now not one of saddening thousands weops,
Nor warlike-worshipper his vigil keeps

(1) It was not always the custom of the Greeks to burn their dead; the greater Ajax, in particular, was interred entire. Almost all the chiefs became gods after their decease; and he was indeed neglected, who had not annual games near his tomb, or festivals in honour of his memory by his countrymen, as Achilles, Brasidas, &c. and at last even Antinous, whose death was as heroic as his life was infamous.

Where demi-gods appear'd, as records tell.
Remove yon skull from out the scatter'd heaps :
Is that a temple where a God may dwell ?
Why ev!n the worm at last disdains her shatter'd cell !

VI.

Look on its broken arch, its ruin'd wall,
Its chambers desolate, and portals foul :
Yes, this was once Ambition's airy hall,
The dome of Thought, the palace of the Soul :
Behold through each lack-lustre, eyeless hole,
The gay recess of Wisdom and of Wit
And Passion's host, that never brook'd control:

Can all saint, sage, or sophist ever writ,
People this lonely tower, this tenement refit?

VII.

Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son!
“ All that we know is, nothing can be known.”
Why should we shrink from what we cannot shun?
Each hath his pang, but feeble sufferers groan
With brain-born dreams of evil all their own.
Pursue what Chance or Fate proclaimeth best ;
Peace waits us on the shores of Acheron:

There no forced banquet claims the sated guest,
But Silence spreads the couch of ever welcome rest.

VIII.

Yet if, as holiest men have deem'd, there be
A land of souls beyond that sable shore,
To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee
And sophists, madly vain of dubious lore ;
How sweet it were in concert to adore
With those who made our mortal labours light !
To hear each voice we feard to hear no more!

Behold each mighty shade reveald to sight,
The Bactrian, Samian sage, and all who taught the right!

IX.

There, thou! - whose love and life together fled,
Have left me here to love and live in vain
Twined with my heart, and can I deem thee dead
When busy Memory flashes on my brain?
Well - I will dream that we may meet again,

And woo the vision to my vacant breast :
If aught of young Remembrance then remain,

Be as it may Futurity's behest,
For me 'twere bliss enough to know thy spirit blest !

X.

Here let me sit upon

this

massy stone,
The marble column's yet unshaken base;
Here, son of Saturn ! was thy fav’rite throne: ()
Mightiest of many such! Hence let me trace
The latent grandeur of thy dwelling-place.
It
may

not be: nor ev'n can Fancy's eye
Restore what Time hath labour'd to deface.

Yet these proud pillars claim no passing sigh ; Unmoved the Moslem sits, the light Greek carols by.

XI.

But who, of all the plunderers of yon fane
On high, where Pallas linger'd, loath to flee
The latest relic of her ancient reign ;
The last, the worst, dull spoiler, who was he?
Blush, Caledonia! such thy son could be!
England ! I joy no child he was of thine:
Thy free-born men should spare what once was free,

Yet they could violate each saddening shrine,
And bear these altars o'er the long-reluctant brine: (*)

XII.

But most the modern Pict's ignoble boast,
To rive what Goth, and Turk, and Time hath spared ; (*)
Cold as the crags upon his native coast,
His mind as barren and his heart as hard,
Is he whose head conceived, whose hand prepared,
Aught to displace Athena's poor remains
Her sons too weak the sacred shrine to guard,

Yet felt some portion of their mother's pains, (*)
And never knew, till then, the weight of Despot's chains.

(1) 'The temple of Jupiter Olympius, of which sixteen columns, entirely of marble, yet survive : originally there were 150. These columns, however, are by many supposed to belong to the Pantheon.

(2) The ship was wrecked in the Archipelago. (3) See Appendix to this Canto [A], for a note too long to be placed here. (4) I cannot resist availing myself of the permission of my friend Dr. Clarke, whose name requires no comment with the public, but whose sanction will add tenfold weight to my testimony, to insert the following extract from a very obliging letter of his to me, as a note to the above lines. 4. When the last of the Metopes was taken from the Parthenon, and, in moving of it, great part of the superstructure with

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