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George Byron (1788 - 1824)

George Byron

Fortress of falling Empire
... Happier Ravenna! on thy hoary shore,
Fortress of falling Empire! honoured sleeps
The immortal Exile; - Arquà, too, her store
Of tuneful relics proudly claims and keeps,
While Florence vainly begs her banished dead and weeps.


Ave Maria
(...) Ave Maria! o'er the earth and sea,
the heavenliest hour of Heaven is worthiest thee!
Ave Maria! blessed be the hour!
The time, the clime, the spot, where I so oft
Have felt that moment in its fullest power
Sink o'er the earth so beautiful and soft.
While swung the deep bell in the distant tower,
Or the faint dying day-hymn stole aloft,
And not a breath crept through the rosy air,
and yet the forest leaves seem'd stirr'd with prayer.


Sweet hour of twilight (1821)
... Sweet hour of twilight! in the solitude
Of the pine forest, and the silent shore
Which bounds Ravenna's immemorial wood,
Rooted where once the Adrian wave flow'd o'er
To where the last Caesarean fortress stood,
Evergreen forest; which Boccaccio's lore
and Dryden's lay made haunted ground to me,
How have I loved the twilight hour and thee! […]


A broken pillar
I canter by the spot each afternoon
Where perish'd in his fame the hero-boy,
Who lived too long for men, but died too soon
For human vanity, the young De Foix!
A broken pillar not uncouthly hewn,
But which neglect is hastening to destroy,
Records Ravenna's carnage on its face,
Hile weeds and ordure rankle round the base.
I pass each day where Dante's bones are laid;
A little cupola, more neat than solemn,
Protects his dust, but reverence here is paid
To the bard's tomb, and not the warrior's column.
The time must come when both, alike decay'd,
The chieftain's trophy and the poet's volume,
Will sink where lie the songs and wars of earth,
Before Pelides' death or Homer's birth.
With human blood that column was cemented,
With human filth that column is defiled,
As if the peasant's coarse contempt were vented,
To show his loathing of the spot he spoil'd.
Thus is the trophy used, and thus lamented
Should ever be those blood-hounds, from whose wild
Istinct of gore and glory earth has known
Those sufferings Dante saw in hell alone.

G. Byron, The poetical works of Lord Byron. London: John Murray, 1873.