Things Every Literate Person Knows
From Lord Byron’s “Ode on Venice” lamenting the fall of the Venetian Republic, which had survived more than a thousand years.
Apostrophe to America.
STILL one great clime, in full and free defiance,
Yet rears her crest, unconquer’d and sublime,
Above the far Atlantic!—She has taught
Her Esau-brethren that the haughty flag,
The floating fence of Albion’s feebler crag,
May strike to those whose red right hands have bought
Rights cheaply earn’d with blood,—Still, still, for ever
Better, though each man’s life-blood were a river,
That it should flow, and overflow, than creep
Through thousand lazy channels in our veins,
Damm’d like the dull canal with locks and chains,
And moving, as a sick man in his sleep,
Three paces, and then faltering:—better be
Where the extinguish’d Spartans still are free,
In their proud charnel of Thermopylae,
Than stagnate in our marsh,—or o’er the deep
Fly, and one current to the ocean add,
One spirit to the souls our fathers had,
One freeman more, America, to thee!
—George Gordon Lord Byron, “Ode on Venice,” 1818.