Rhymes On The Road. Extract VI. Venice.

A poem by Thomas Moore

The Fall of Venice not to be lamented--Former Glory.--Expedition against Constantinople.--Giustinianis.--Republic.--Characteristics of the old Government.--Golden Book.--Brazen Mouths.--Spies.--Dungeons.--Present Desolation.

Mourn not for VENICE--let her rest
In ruin, 'mong those States unblest,
Beneath whose gilded hoofs of pride,
Where'er they trampled, Freedom died.
No--let us keep our tears for them,
Where'er they pine, whose fall hath been
Not from a blood-stained diadem,
Like that which deckt this ocean-queen,
But from high daring in the cause
Of human Rights--the only good
And blessed strife, in which man draws
His mighty sword on land or flood.

Mourn not for VENICE; tho' her fall
Be awful, as if Ocean's wave
Swept o'er her, she deserves it all,
And Justice triumphs o'er her grave.
Thus perish every King and State
That run the guilty race she ran,
Strong but in ill and only great
By outrage against God and man!

True, her high spirit is at rest,
And all those days of glory gone,
When the world's waters, east and west,
Beneath her white-winged commerce shone;
When with her countless barks she went
To meet the Orient Empire's might.[1]
And her Giustinianis sent
Their hundred heroes to that fight.

Vanisht are all her pomps, 'tis true,
But mourn them not--for vanisht too
(Thanks to that Power, who soon or late,
Hurls to the dust the guilty Great,)
Are all the outrage, falsehood, fraud,
The chains, the rapine, and the blood,
That filled each spot, at home, abroad,
Where the Republic's standard stood.
Desolate VENICE! when I track
Thy haughty course thro' centuries back;
Thy ruthless power, obeyed but curst--
The stern machinery of thy State,
Which hatred would, like steam, have burst,
Had stronger fear not chilled even hate;--
Thy perfidy, still worse than aught
Thy own unblushing SARPI[2] taught;--
Thy friendship which, o'er all beneath
Its shadow, rained down dews of death;[3]--
Thy Oligarchy's Book of Gold,
Closed against humble Virtue's name,
But opened wide for slaves who sold
Their native land to thee and shame;[4]--
Thy all-pervading host of spies
Watching o'er every glance and breath,
Till men lookt in each others' eyes,
To read their chance of life or death;--
Thy laws that made a mart of blood,
And legalized the assassin's knife;[5]--
Thy sunless cells beneath the flood,
And racks and Leads that burnt out life;--

When I review all this and see
The doom that now hath fallen on thee;
Thy nobles, towering once so proud,
Themselves beneath the yoke now bowed,--
A yoke by no one grace redeemed,
Such as of old around thee beamed,
But mean and base as e'er yet galled
Earth's tyrants when themselves enthralled,--
I feel the moral vengeance sweet.
And smiling o'er the wreck repeat:--
"Thus perish every King and State
"That tread the steps which VENICE trod,
"Strong but in ill and only great,
"By outrage against man and God!"

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