Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GIBBON AND VOLTAIRE, by GEORGE GORDON BYRON

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GIBBON AND VOLTAIRE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lausanne! And ferney! Ye have been the abodes
Last Line: T will be forgiven, or suffer what is just.
Alternate Author Name(s): Byron, Lord; Byron, 6th Baron
Subject(s): Gibbon, Edward (1737-1794); History; Lausanne, Switzerland; Voltaire, Francois Marie Arouet De; Historians

LAUSANNE! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes
Of names which unto you bequeathed a name;
Mortals, who sought and found, by dangerous roads,
A path to perpetuity of fame:
They were gigantic minds, and their steep aim
Was, Titan-like, on daring doubts to pile
Thoughts which should call down thunder and the flame
Of heaven, again assailed, if heaven the while
On man and man's research could deign do no more then smile.
The one was fire and fickleness, a child,
Most mutable in wishes, but in mind
A wit as various, - gay, grave, sage, or wild, -
Historian, bard, philosopher combined;
He multiplied himself among mankind,
The Proteus of their talents: but his own
Breathed most in ridicule, - which, as the wind,
Blew where it listed, laying all things prone, -
Now to o'erthrow a fool, and now to shake a throne.
The other, deep and slow, exhausting thought,
And hiving wisdom with each studious year,
In meditation dwelt, with learning wrought,
And shaped his weapon with an edge severe,
Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer:
The lord of irony, - that master-spell,
Which stung his foes to wrath, which grew from fear,
And doomed him to the zealot's ready hell,
Which answers to all doubts so eloquently well.
Yet, peace be with their ashes, - for by them,
If merited, the penalty is paid;
It is not ours to judge, - far less condemn;
The hour must come when such things shall be made
Known unto all, - or hope and dread allayed
By slumber, on one pillow, - in the dust,
Which, thus much we are sure, must lie decayed;
And when it shall revive, as is our trust,
'T will be forgiven, or suffer what is just.

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