The Two Foscari – Monologue (Jacopo Foscari)

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A monologue from the play by Lord Byron

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Lord Byron: Six Plays. Lord Byron. Los Angeles: Black Box Press, 2007.


[In a dark prison.]
No light, save yon faint gleam which shows me walls
Which never echo’d but to sorrow’s sounds,
The sigh of long imprisonment, the step
Of feet on which the iron clank’d the groan
Of death, the imprecation of despair!
And yet for this I have return’d to Venice,
With some faint hope, ’tis true, that time, which wears
The marble down, had worn away the hate
Of men’s hearts; but I knew them not, and here
Must I consume my own, which never beat
For Venice but with such a yearning as
The dove has for her distant nest, when wheeling
High in the air on her return to greet
Her callow brood. What letters are these which [Approaching the wall.]
Are scrawl’d along the inexorable wall?
Will the gleam let me trace them? Ah! the names
Of my sad predecessors in this place,
The dates of their despair, the brief words of
A grief too great for many. This stone page
Holds like an epitaph their history;
And the poor captive’s tale is graven on
His dungeon barrier, like the lover’s record
Upon the bark of some tall tree, which bears
His own and his beloved’s name. Alas!
I recognize some names familiar to me,
And blighted like to mine, which I will add,
Fittest for such a chronicle as this,
Which only can be read, as writ, by wretches. [He engraves his name.]

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