Rhymes On The Road. Extract VII. Venice.

A poem by Thomas Moore

Lord Byron's Memoirs, written by himself.--Reflections, when about to read them.


Let me a moment--ere with fear and hope
Of gloomy, glorious things, these leaves I ope--
As one in fairy tale to whom the key
Of some enchanter's secret halls is given,
Doubts while he enters slowly, tremblingly,
If he shall meet with shapes from hell or heaven--
Let me a moment think what thousands live
O'er the wide earth this instant who would give,
Gladly, whole sleepless nights to bend the brow
Over these precious leaves, as I do now.

How all who know--and where is he unknown?
To what far region have his songs not flown,
Like PSAPHON'S birds[1] speaking their master's name,
In every language syllabled by Fame?--
How all who've felt the various spells combined
Within the circle of that mastermind,--
Like spells derived from many a star and met
Together in some wondrous amulet,--
Would burn to know when first the Light awoke
In his young soul,--and if the gleams that broke
From that Aurora of his genius, raised
Most pain or bliss in those on whom they blazed;
Would love to trace the unfolding of that power,
Which had grown ampler, grander, every hour;
And feel in watching o'er his first advance
As did the Egyptian traveller[2] when he stood
By the young Nile and fathomed with his lance
The first small fountains of that mighty flood.

They too who mid the scornful thoughts that dwell
In his rich fancy, tingeing all its streams,--
As if the Star of Bitterness which fell
On earth of old,[3] had touched them with its beams,--
Can track a spirit which tho' driven to hate,
From Nature's hands came kind, affectionate;
And which even now, struck as it is with blight,
Comes out at times in love's own native light;--
How gladly all who've watched these struggling rays
Of a bright, ruined spirit thro' his lays,
Would here inquire, as from his own frank lips,
What desolating grief, what wrongs had driven
That noble nature into cold eclipse;
Like some fair orb that, once a sun in heaven.
And born not only to surprise but cheer
With warmth and lustre all within its sphere,
Is now so quenched that of its grandeur lasts
Naught but the wide, cold shadow which it casts.

Eventful volume! whatsoe'er the change
Of scene and clime--the adventures bold and strange--
The griefs--the frailties but too frankly told--
The loves, the feuds thy pages may unfold,
If Truth with half so prompt a hand unlocks
His virtues as his failings, we shall find
The record there of friendships held like rocks,
And enmities like sun-touched snow resigned;
Of fealty, cherisht without change or chill,
In those who served him, young, and serve him still;
Of generous aid given, with that noiseless art
Which wakes not pride, to many a wounded heart;
Of acts--but, no--not from himself must aught
Of the bright features of his life be sought.

While they who court the world, like Milton's cloud,
"Turn forth their silver lining" on the crowd,
This gifted Being wraps himself in night;
And keeping all that softens and adorns
And gilds his social nature hid from sight,
Turns but its darkness on a world he scorns.

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