Samuel Rogers.

The poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir online

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Standing triumphant. To the east they go,
Steering for Istria ; their accursed barks
(Well are they known, the galliot and the

galley),
Freighted with all that gives to life its value I
The richest argosies were poor to them I

Now might you see the matrons running wild
Along the beach ; the men half-arm' d and

arming,
One with a shield, one with a casque and spear
One with an axe hewing the mooring-chain
Of some old pinnace. Not a raft, a plank,
But on that day was drifting. In an hour
Half Venice was afloat. But long before.
Frantic with grief and scorning all control,
The youths were gone in a light brigantine,
Lying at anchor near the Arsenal ;
Each having sworn, and by the holy rood.
To slay or to be slain.

And from the tower
The watchman gives the signal. In the East
5



66 rrALY.

A ship is seen, and making for the Port ;

Her flag St. Mark's. — And now she turns thd

point,
Over the waters like a sea-bird flying !
Ha, 't is the same, 't is theirs ! from stern to

prow
Hung with green boughs, she comes, she comes,

restoring
All that was lost.

Coasting, with narrow search,
Friuli — like a tiger in his spring,
They had surprised the Corsairs where they lay
Sharing the spoil in blind security
^nd casting lots — had slain them, one and all,
All to the last, and flung them far and wide
Into the sea, their proper element ;
Him first, as first in rank, whose name so long
Had hush'd the babes of Venice, and who yet,
Breathing a little, in his look refain'd
The fierceness of his soul.

Thus were the Brides
Lost and recover'd ; and what now remain'd
But to give thanks ? Twelve breast plates and

twelve crowns,
Flaming with gems and gold, the votive ofier-

ings
Of the young victors to their Patron-Saint,
Vow'd on the field of battle, were ere-long
Laid at his feet ; (2G) and to preserve for ever
The memory of a day so full of change,
^rom joy to grief, from grief to joy again,
''hrough many an cge, as o^'t as it came round,



ITALY. 67

*T was held religiously with all observance.
The Doge resigii'd his crimson for pure ermine;
And through the city in a stately barge
Of gold, were borne, with songs and sympho-
nies,
Twelve ladies young and noble. Clad they

were
In bridal white with bridal ornaments,
Each in her glittering veil ; and on the deck,
As on a burnish' d throne, they glided by ;
No window or balcony but adorn'd
With hangings of rich texture, not a roof
But cover'd with beholders, and the air
Vocal with joy. Onward ihey went, their oars
Moving in concert with the harmony,
Through the Rialtoto the Ducal Palace,
And at a banquet there, served with due honouTi
Sate representing, in the eyes of all.
Eyes not unwet, I ween, with grateful tears,
Their lovely ancestors, the Brides of Venice.

XVL

FOSCARI.

Let us lift up the curtain, and observn,
What passes in that chamber. Now a iigb,
And now a groan, is heard. Then all is still.
Twenty are sitting as in judgment there ;
Men who have served their country, and grown

grey
In governments and distant embassies,
Men eraiiv^nt alike in war and peace ;



68 ITALY.

Such as in c/iigy shall long adorn

The walls ol Venice-"— to show what she hsM

been !
Their garb is black, and black the arras is,
And sad the general aspect. Yet their looks
Are calm, are cheerful ; nothing there like grief,
Nothing or harsh or cruel. Siill that noise.
That low and dismal moaning.

Half withdrawn,
A little to the left, sits one in crimson,
A venerable man, fourscore and upward.
Cold drops of sweat stand on his furrow'd brow.
His hands are ciench'd; his eyes half-shut and

glazed ;
His shrunk and wither' d limbs rigid as marble.
'T is Foscari, the Doge. And there is one,
A young man, lying at his feet, stretch'd out
In torture. 'T is his son; his only one ;
'T is Giacomo, the blessing of his age,
(Say, has he lived f(jr this ?) accused of murder,
The murder of the Senator Donato.
Last night the proofs, if proofs they are, were

dropt
Into the lion's mouth, the mouth of brass,
That gapes and gorges ; and the Doge himself
Must sit and look on a beloved Son
Suflering the Question.

Twice, to die in peace
To save a falling house, and turn the hearts
Of his fell Adversaries, those who now,
Like hell-hounds in full cry, are running dow»
Hid last of four, twice did he ask their leave



ITALY. 69

To lay aside the Crown, and they refused him,

An oath exacting, never more to ask it ;

And there he sits, a spectacle of woo,

By them, his rivals in the State, compell'd,

Such the refinement of their cruelty,

To keep the place he sigh'd for.

Once again
The screw is turn'd; and, as it turns, the Son
Looks up, and, in a faint and broken accent,
Murmurs ' ' My Father ! " The old man shrinks

back
And in his mantle muffles up his face.
'' Art thou not guilty ?" says a voice, that once
Would greet the Sufferer long before they met
And on his ear strike like a pleasant music —
"Art thou not guilty?" — "No! Indeed I am

not!"
But all is unavailing. In that Court
Groans are confessions ; Patience, Fortitude,
The work of Magic ; and, released, upheld,
For Condemnation, from his Father's lips
He hears the sentence, " Banishment to Candia:
Death, if he leaves it."

And the bark sets sail ;
And he is gone from all he loves — for ever !
His wife, his boys, and his disconsolate parents !
Gone in the dead of night — unseen of any —
Without a word, a look of tenderness,
To be call'd up, vi^hen, in his lonely hours
He would indulge in veeping.

Like a ghosts
Day after day, year after year, he haunts





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Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir → online text (page 4 of 16)