Poems of Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in The Literary Souvenir, 1835/Venice

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Venice - Santa Salute.png


VENICE
SANTA SALUTE

Drawn by C. BentleyEngraved by J. Thomas



VENICE.


BY MISS L. E. LANDON.


I.
Aye, the Ocean has bright daughters,
    Each one a crowned queen;
Whose empire o'er the waters
    A fairy tale has been;
A tale of pomp and glory,
    Of fame on land and sea,
An old historic story,
    Such Venice tells of thee.
The soldier and the sailor
    Were each of them thine own;
The Pilgrim's cheek grew paler,
    Where'er thy name was known.

II.
Where the Ottoman's white crescent
    Arose o'er Christian blood,
Was the winged Lion present,
    To pour a darker flood.
That banner met the morning,
    St. Mark its guard and guide;
Still the battle front adorning,
    His Lion led the tide.

Then resting from his labour,
    He sought his place of pride,
For the ataghan and sabre
    Were shivered at his side.

III.
Fair Venice, like a beauty,
    Arose from out the sea;
The waves, with a sweet duty,
    Were proud her slaves to be:
The fleets she sent to rove them
    Their empire seemed to know,
With a favouring sky above them,
    A subject sea below:
Now sent on warlike sallies,
    Now on some richer quest,
The bold Republic's gallies
    Were known from east to west.

IV.
Dalmatia's forest highlands
    Were searched for slaves and ore;
The soft Ionian Islands
    Gave up their summer store;
The olive, fig, and myrtle,
    All woods, the sweet and rare;
Silks for the maiden's kirtle,
    Pearls for her shining hair;
And myrrh in silver measures,
    And spices, oil, and grain,
These heaped the merchant treasures
    She brought from off the main.


V.
When the summer day declining,
    Sank purple o'er her towers,
How lovely was the shining
    Of evening's early hours;
Then beneath the moonlight gliding,
    Swept the gondolas along,
While the gondoliers seemed guiding
    Their dark barks with a song.
With barcarolles sweet laden,
    The wind to music turned;
While the cheek of many a maiden
    With conscious crimson burned.

VI.
There was many a princely greeting
    On good St. Mark's broad square;
And many a festal meeting
    Rejoiced the midnight air;
For her nobles dwelt in palaces,
    Whose marble mocked the brine,
And drank from golden chalices
    The Cypriot's golden wine.
For she was called "The Pleasant,"
    That city of the mask;
Where the light hours of the present
    Were sped with lute and flask.

VII.
But her glory is departed,
    And her pleasure is no more,
Like a pale queen, broken-hearted,
    Left lonely on the shore.

No more the waves are cumbered
    With her galleys bold and free;
For her days of pride are numbered,
    And she rules no more the sea.
Her sword has left her keeping,
    Her prows forget the tide,
And the Adriatic weeping
    Wails round his mourning bride.

VIII.
Gloomy, the proud Venetian
    Surveys his father's halls,
Where the fading hues of Titian
    Yet light the mouldering walls.
For they look reproach and sorrow,
    They dreamed not the disgrace
That would darken o'er the morrow
    Of the once Patrician race.
In those straits is desolation,
    And darkness and dismay—
Venice, no more a nation,
    Has owned the stranger's sway.