Ballad of Reading Gaol eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 114 pages of information about Ballad of Reading Gaol.
The woods are filled with gods we fancied slain. 
Long time I watched, and surely hoped to see
Some goat-foot Pan make merry minstrelsy
Amid the reeds! some startled Dryad-maid
In girlish flight! or lurking in the glade,
The soft brown limbs, the wanton treacherous face
Of woodland god!  Queen Dian in the chase,
White-limbed and terrible, with look of pride,
And leash of boar-hounds leaping at her side! 
Or Hylas mirrored in the perfect stream.

O idle heart!  O fond Hellenic dream! 
Ere long, with melancholy rise and swell,
The evening chimes, the convent’s vesper bell,
Struck on mine ears amid the amorous flowers. 
Alas! alas! these sweet and honied hours
Had whelmed my heart like some encroaching sea,
And drowned all thoughts of black Gethsemane.

VI.

O lone Ravenna! many a tale is told
Of thy great glories in the days of old: 
Two thousand years have passed since thou didst see
Caesar ride forth to royal victory. 
Mighty thy name when Rome’s lean eagles flew
From Britain’s isles to far Euphrates blue;
And of the peoples thou wast noble queen,
Till in thy streets the Goth and Hun were seen. 
Discrowned by man, deserted by the sea,
Thou sleepest, rocked in lonely misery! 
No longer now upon thy swelling tide,
Pine-forest-like, thy myriad galleys ride! 
For where the brass-beaked ships were wont to float,
The weary shepherd pipes his mournful note;
And the white sheep are free to come and go
Where Adria’s purple waters used to flow.

O fair!  O sad!  O Queen uncomforted! 
In ruined loveliness thou liest dead,
Alone of all thy sisters; for at last
Italia’s royal warrior hath passed
Rome’s lordliest entrance, and hath worn his crown
In the high temples of the Eternal Town! 
The Palatine hath welcomed back her king,
And with his name the seven mountains ring!

And Naples hath outlived her dream of pain,
And mocks her tyrant!  Venice lives again,
New risen from the waters! and the cry
Of Light and Truth, of Love and Liberty,
Is heard in lordly Genoa, and where
The marble spires of Milan wound the air,
Rings from the Alps to the Sicilian shore,
And Dante’s dream is now a dream no more.

But thou, Ravenna, better loved than all,
Thy ruined palaces are but a pall
That hides thy fallen greatness! and thy name
Burns like a grey and flickering candle-flame
Beneath the noonday splendour of the sun
Of new Italia! for the night is done,
The night of dark oppression, and the day
Hath dawned in passionate splendour:  far away
The Austrian hounds are hunted from the land,
Beyond those ice-crowned citadels which stand
Girdling the plain of royal Lombardy,
From the far West unto the Eastern sea.

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