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Better than all measures

Of delightful sound -
Better than all treasures

That in books are found -
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground !

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Teach me half the gladness

That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness

From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then as I am listening now.

1820.

105

ODE TO LIBERTY.

Yet, Freedom, yet thy banner torn but flying,
Streams like a thunder-storm against the wind.

BYRON.

1.

5

A GLORIOUS people vibrated again

The lightning of the nations : Liberty
From heart to heart, from tower to tower, o'er Spain,

Scattering contagious fire into the sky,
Gleamed. My soul spurned the chains of its dismay,

And, in the rapid plumes of song,

Clothed itself, sublime and strong ;
As a young eagle soars the morning clouds among,
Hovering in verse o'er its accustomed prey ;

Till from its station in the heaven of fame
The Spirit's whirlwind rapt it, and the ray

Of the remotest sphere of living flame
Which paves the void was from behind it flung,

As foam from a ship's swiftness, when there came
A voice out of the deep : I will record the same.

IO

15

II.

20

The Sun and the serenest Moon sprang forth :

The burning stars of the abyss were hurled Into the depths of heaven. The Dædal earth,

That island in the ocean of the world, Hung in its cloud of all-sustaining air:

But this divinest universe

Was yet a chaos and a curse, For thou wert not : but power from worst producing worse, The spirit of the beasts was kindled there, And of the birds, and of the watery forms,

25 And there was war among them, and despair

Within them, raging without truce or terms: The bosom of their violated nurse Groaned, for beasts warred on beasts, and worms on

worms, And men on men ; each heart was as a hell of storms. 30

III.

35

Man, the imperial shape, then multiplied

His generations under the pavilion
Of the Sun's throne: palace and pyramid,

Temple and prison, to many a swarming million,
Were, as to mountain-wolves their ragged caves.

This human living multitude

Was savage, cunning, blind, and rude,
For thou wert not; but o'er the populous solitude,
Like one fierce cloud over a waste of waves

Hung Tyranny ; beneath, sate deified
The sister-pest, congregator of slaves;

Into the shadow of her pinions wide
Anarchs and priests who feed on gold and blood,

Till with the stain their inmost souls are dyed,
Drove the astonished herds of men from every

side.

40

45

IV.

The nodding promontories, and blue isles,

And cloud-like mountains, and dividuous waves Of Greece, basked glorious in the open smiles

Of favouring heaven: from their enchanted caves Prophetic echoes flung dim melody,

50 On the unapprehensive wild

The vine, the corn, the olive mild, Grew savage yet, to human use unreconciled ; And, like unfolded Aowers beneath the sea,

Like the man's thought dark in the infant's brain, 55 Like aught that is which wraps what is to be,

Art's deathless dreams lay veiled by many a vein
Of Parian stone; and, yet a speechless child,

Verse murmured, and Philosophy did strain
Her lidless eyes for thee; when o'er the Ægean main 60

V.

65

Athens arose: a city such as vision

Builds from the purple gs and silver towers Of battlemented cloud, as in derision

Of kingliest masonry : the ocean-floors Pave it; the evening sky pavilions it ;

Its portals are inhabited

By thunder-zonèd winds, each head Within its cloudy wings with sunfire garlanded, A divine work! Athens diviner yet

Gleamed with its crest of columns, on the will Of man, as on a mount of diamond, set;

For thou wert, and thine all-creative skill
Peopled with forms that mock the eternal dead

In marble immortality, that hill
Which was thine earliest throne and latest oracle.

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75

VI.

80

Within the surface of Time's fleeting river

Its wrinkled image lies, as then it lay Immovably unquiet, and for ever

It trembles, but it cannot pass away! The voices of thy bards and sages thunder

With an earth-awakening blast

Through the caverns of the past;
Religion veils her eyes; Oppression shrinks aghast :
A winged sound of joy, and love, and wonder,

Which soars where Expectation never few,
Rending the veil of space and time asunder!

One ocean feeds the clouds, and streams, and dew; One sun illumines heaven; one spirit vast

With life and love makes chaos ever new,
As Athens doth the world with thy delight renew.

85

90

VII.

95

Then Rome was, and from thy deep bosom fairest,

Like a wolf-cub from a Cadmæan Mænad,
She drew the milk of greatness, though thy dearest

From that Elysian food was yet unweaned;
And many a deed of terrible uprightness

By thy sweet love was sanctified ;

And in thy smile, and by thy side,
Saintly Camillus lived, and firm Atilius died.
But when tears stained thy robe of vestal whiteness,

And gold profaned thy capitolian throne,
Thou didst desert, with spirit-winged lightness,

The senate of the tyrants: they sunk prone
Slaves of one tyrant : Palatinus sighed

Faint echoes of Ionian song; that tone
Thou didst delay to hear, lamenting to disown.

100

105

VIII.

IIO

From what Hyrcanian glen or frozen hill,

Or piny promontory of the Arctic main, Or utmost islet inaccessible,

Didst thou lament the ruin of thy reign,
Teaching the woods, and waves, and desert rocks,

And
every

Naiad's ice-cold urn,
To talk in echoes sad and stern,
Of that sublimest lore which man had dared unlearn?
For neither didst thou watch the wizard flocks

Of the Scald's dreams, nor haunt the Druid's sleep. 115 What if the tears rained through thy shattered locks

Were quickly dried? for thou didst groan, not weep When from its sea of death to kill and burn,

The Galilean serpent forth did creep,
And made thy world an undistinguishable heap.

I 20

IX.

A thousand

years the Earth cried, Where art thou?
And then the shadow of thy coming fell
On Saxon Alfred's olive-cinctured brow:

And many a warrior-peopled citadel,
Like rocks which fire lifts out of the flat deep,

125 Arose in sacred Italy,

Frowning o'er the tempestuous sea Of kings, and priests, and slaves, in tower-crowned majesty; That multitudinous anarchy did sweep,

And burst around their walls, like idle foam, I 30 Whilst from the human spirit's deepest deep

Strange melody with love and awe struck dumb
Dissonant arms; and Art, which cannot die,

With divine wand traced on our earthly home
Fit imagery to pave heaven's everlasting dome. 135

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