Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage PDF

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Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean — roll!

Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;

Man marks the earth with ruin — his control

Stops with the shore; — upon the watery plain

The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain

A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,

When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,

He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,

Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffin’d, and unknown.

The next stanza begins with a very clear apostrophe or address to something that cannot hear or respond to the speaker. In this case, the ocean. He encourages it to “Roll on” and show its power. There is no human force that can command or control the ocean, despite the “Ten thousand fleets” that have tried in vain to do so. Humanity might be able to alter the land, but it’s “control / Stops with this shore.” The ocean is something different, something that can’t be tamed. 

His steps are not upon thy paths, — thy fields

Are not a spoil for him, — thou dost arise

And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields

For earth’s destruction thou dost all despise,

Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,

And send’st him, shivering in thy playful spray

And howling, to his Gods, where haply lies

His petty hope in some near port or bay,

And dashest him again to earth: — there let him lay.

The speaker continues to talk to the ocean in the next stanza. He describes the ocean, again, as a contrast to the world on land. There, humanity walks on paths they made and takes their spoils from fields. This is not the way the ocean works. When humankind comes to the ocean, the ocean rises and shakes them “from thee.” Humanity’s vile strength, that which has been working steadily to destroy resources on land, is all the ocean “despises.” 

The armaments which thunderstrike the walls

Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,

And monarchs tremble in their capitals,

The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make

Their clay creator the vain title take

Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;

These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,

They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar

Alike the Armada’s pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

The image of the ocean playing with humanity continues into the next lines. It sees the strongest forces that humankind can command as its “toys.” These include the “rock-built cities,” which it can tear down when and how it chooses. The thunderous waves of the ocean bid “nations quake” and “monarch tremble in their capitals.” 

AuthorLord Byron
Language English
No. of Pages244
PDF Size7.3 MB
CategoryPoetry
Source/Creditsarchive.org

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