Bride of the sea! in beauty wrought
With marbles white, and carved woods brought
From distant climes across the sea,
And gems, and stones from Italy,
Wrought by the sculptor's dextrous art
To adorn and deck each sacred part
Of church and grand cathedral tower
With saints and angels and sculptured flower
In niche and nave where the meek soul knelt,
And the palace wide where the Doges dwelt,
Rose pure and bright in thy veil of mist,
As a nymph from the bath by Neptune kissed,
When rosy morn reflected lay
Blushing sweet on the dimpling bay
Whose waters form thy silent streets,
Filled with thy gay gondola fleets.
Thus in beauty thou didst stand
In thy youth. Then thy ships were fanned
By fav'ring gales. Thy argosies
Returned from the far-off port Cadiz,
Laden with spice and merchandise,
Soft textures fine, and rarest dyes,
And coarser fabrics, all combined,
With gems and precious ores refined,
To fill thy lap with wealth and ease,
And crown thee queen of surrounding seas.
Now, alas! thou standst with bowed head;
Thine eyes are dim, thy smiles have fled.
Damp thy walls where the seaweed clings,
Sad the song the gondolier sings,
As his sable barge he guides along
With his silent stroke, sure and strong,
Under the arch of the "Bridge of Sighs,"
And out where the moon's pale light lies
Like a silver veil cast o'er the face
Of one who would hide from view each trace
That Time, the destroyer, may have left,
And of wealth and grandeur is bereft.