Ballad of Reading Gaol eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Ballad of Reading Gaol.

O mightiest exile! all thy grief is done: 
Thy soul walks now beside thy Beatrice;
Ravenna guards thine ashes:  sleep in peace.


How lone this palace is; how grey the walls! 
No minstrel now wakes echoes in these halls. 
The broken chain lies rusting on the door,
And noisome weeds have split the marble floor: 
Here lurks the snake, and here the lizards run
By the stone lions blinking in the sun. 
Byron dwelt here in love and revelry
For two long years—­a second Anthony,
Who of the world another Actium made! 
Yet suffered not his royal soul to fade,
Or lyre to break, or lance to grow less keen,
’Neath any wiles of an Egyptian queen. 
For from the East there came a mighty cry,
And Greece stood up to fight for Liberty,
And called him from Ravenna:  never knight
Rode forth more nobly to wild scenes of fight! 
None fell more bravely on ensanguined field,
Borne like a Spartan back upon his shield! 
O Hellas!  Hellas! in thine hour of pride,
Thy day of might, remember him who died
To wrest from off thy limbs the trammelling chain: 
O Salamis!  O lone Plataean plain! 
O tossing waves of wild Euboean sea! 
O wind-swept heights of lone Thermopylae! 
He loved you well—­ay, not alone in word,
Who freely gave to thee his lyre and sword,
Like AEschylos at well-fought Marathon: 

And England, too, shall glory in her son,
Her warrior-poet, first in song and fight. 
No longer now shall Slander’s venomed spite
Crawl like a snake across his perfect name,
Or mar the lordly scutcheon of his fame.

For as the olive-garland of the race,
Which lights with joy each eager runner’s face,
As the red cross which saveth men in war,
As a flame-bearded beacon seen from far
By mariners upon a storm-tossed sea,—­
Such was his love for Greece and Liberty!

Byron, thy crowns are ever fresh and green: 
Red leaves of rose from Sapphic Mitylene
Shall bind thy brows; the myrtle blooms for thee,
In hidden glades by lonely Castaly;
The laurels wait thy coming:  all are thine,
And round thy head one perfect wreath will twine.


The pine-tops rocked before the evening breeze
With the hoarse murmur of the wintry seas,
And the tall stems were streaked with amber bright;—­
I wandered through the wood in wild delight,
Some startled bird, with fluttering wings and fleet,
Made snow of all the blossoms; at my feet,
Like silver crowns, the pale narcissi lay,
And small birds sang on every twining spray. 
O waving trees, O forest liberty! 
Within your haunts at least a man is free,
And half forgets the weary world of strife: 
The blood flows hotter, and a sense of life
Wakes i’ the quickening veins, while once again

Project Gutenberg
Ballad of Reading Gaol from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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