With all its sinful doings, I must say,
That Italy’s a pleasant place to me,
Who love to see the sun shine every day,
And vines (not nail’d to walls) from tree to tree…
I love the language. that soft bastard Latin,
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,
And sounds as if it should be writ on satin…
Eve of the land which still is Paradise!
Italian beauty! didst thou not inspire
Raphael, who died in thy embrace and,vies
With all we know of Heaven, or can desire..
With all its sinful doings, I must say,
Of all the places where the Carnival
Was most fecetious in the days of yore,…
Venice the bell from every city bore…
They’ve pretty faces yet, those same Venetians,
Black eyes, arch’d brows, and sweet expressions still,
Such as of old were copied from the Grecians,…
And like so many Venuses of Titian’s…
Her husband sailed upon the Adriatic,…
He was a merchant trading to Aleppo,
His name Giuseppe, called briefly, Beppo.
“Oh! that the desert were my dwelling place,… that I might forget the human race, and , hating no one , love but only her!” is how Childe sums up his feelings about the human race. For him “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, there is a rapture on the lonely shore, there is society, where none intrudes, by the deep Sea , and music in its roar:…”. “And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy of youthful sports was on thy breast to be borne like thy bubbles, onward:…”, remembering his boyhood. Lord Byron concludes “My task is done – my song hath ceased – my theme has died into an echo; …”, and bids us “Farewell! Ye! who have traced the Pilgrim to the scene which is his last,….”
“But where is he the pilgrim of my song, the being who upheld it through the past?” the poet Byron asks and answers “Methinks he cometh late and tarries long”. Childe sees “Afar the Tiber winds, and the broad ocean laves the Latian coast where sprung the Epic war ‘Arms and the Man’, whose re-ascending star rose o’er the Empire;…”.
“While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; when falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; and when Rome falls – the world” are the thoughts of Childe Harold as he views “Simple erect, severe, austere, sublime’ “Rome, and her Ruin past Redemption’s skill,…”. “Majesty, Power, Glory, Strength, and Beauty, all are aisled in this eternal art of workship undefiled”.
All this majesty “Defiles at first our Nature’s littleness, till, growing with its growth, we thus dilate our spirits to the size of that they contemplate”.
Childe Harold stands in contemplation of “The azure gloom of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume hues which have words, and speak to ye of heaven,…”.And to “Time, the avenger! unto thee I lift my hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave for thee a gift….”. He boasts a little “But I have lived, and have not lived in vain…”. As “I see before me the Gladiator lie……He reck’d not of the life he lost nor prize, but where his rude hut by the Danube lay there were his young barbaraians all at play, there was their Dacian mother – he, their sire, butcher’d to make a Roman holiday -….”
Child talks of “Oh Love! no inhabitant of earth thou art – an unseen serph, we believe in thee,…..”; he thinks “Of its own beauty is the mind diseased, and fevers into false creation…..”. He even goes so far as to say “Who loves, raves – ’tis youth’s frenzy – but the cure is bitterer still”. He laments “We wither from our youth, we gasp away – sick – sick…”, and “Few – none – find what they love or could have loved…”.
“Because the deadly days that we have seen, and vile Ambition,… are grown the pretext for the eternal thrall which nips life’s tree, and dooms man’s worst – his second fall” is something that Childe has learned on his pilgrimage but he hopes “So shall a better spring less bitter fruit bring forth”. Over the grave of a lady he wonders “Was she as those who love their lords, or they who love the lords of others?”; “Did she lean to the soft side of her heart, or wisely bar love from among her griefs?”. He ponders if “Heaven gives its favourites – early death”.
To Childe “There woos no home, nor hope, nor life, save what is here”. And he finds “There is the moral of all human tales; ’tis but the same rehearsal of the past, first Freedom, and then Glory – when that fails, Wealth, vice, corruption, – barbarism at last.”.
“Oh Rome! my country! city of the soul!” as Childe Harold falls in love with the destination of his pilgrimage, he finds “A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay”. His pilgrimage has taught him ” We but feel our way to err; the ocean hath his chart, the stars their map,…” but as for man “now we clap our hands, and cry ‘Eureka!’ it is clear – when but some false mirage of ruin rises near”. He longs for the world with “That brightness in her eye she bore when Rome was free!”; – “Her rush of wings – Oh ! she who was Almighty hail’d!”. Questioning the “she-wolf” mother, he asks “And thou, the thunder – stricken nurse of Rome!…. -dost thou yet guard thine immortal cubs, nor thy fond charge forget?”. He concludes “Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep, and all things weigh’d in custom’s falsest scale;…”; Men “Bleed gladiator-like, and still engage within the same arena where they see their fellows fall before, like leaves of the same tree.”.
Childe, reminded of Rome’s greatest defeat by Hanibal, “Is of another temper, and I roam by Thrasimene’s Lake, in the defiles fatal to Roman rashness,…”; but following that he comes to “But thou, Clitumnus! in the sweetest wave of the most living crystal that was e’er the haunt of river nymph, … a mirror and a bath for Beauty’s youngest daughters!”. Down “Once more upon the woody Apennine’ he finds the river “Velino cleaves the wave-worn precipice; the fall of waters!” “Horribly beautiful!….Love matching Madness with unalterable mien.”.Childe wants to avoid “Aught that recalls the daily drug which turn’d my sickening memory;….”, nevertheless “Horace; whom I hated so,…. Although no deeper Moralist rehearse our little life, nor Bard prescribe his art, nor livelier Satirist the conscience pierce,….”