Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/441

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What from this barren being do we reap?[1]
Our senses narrow, and our reason frail,
Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep,
And all things weighed in Custom's falsest scale;[2]
Opinion an Omnipotence,—whose veil
Mantles the earth with darkness, until right
And wrong are accidents, and Men grow pale
Lest their own judgments should become too bright,
And their free thoughts be crimes, and Earth have too much light.


And thus they plod in sluggish misery,[3]

Rotting from sire to son, and age to age,[4]
  1. —— "Omnes pœne veteres; qui nihil cognosci, nihil percipi, nihil sciri posse dixerunt; angustos sensus, imbecillos animos, brevia curricula vitæ, et (ut Democritus) in profundo veritatem esse demersam; opinionibus et institutis omnia teneri; nihil veritati relinqui: deinceps omnia tenebris circumfusa esse dixerunt."—Academ., lib. I. cap. 12. The eighteen hundred years which have elapsed since Cicero wrote this, have not removed any of the imperfections of humanity: and the complaints of the ancient philosophers may, without injustice or affectation, be transcribed in a poem written yesterday.
  2. [Compare Gray's Elegy, stanza xv.—

    "Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear."]

  3. And this they sleep in some dull certainty.—[MS. M. erased.]
  4. [Compare As You Like It, act ii. sc. 7, lines 26-28—

    "And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
    And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
    And thereby hangs a tale."]