'Oh Rome! My Country! City of the Soul!'
The statue of the poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) in Villa Borghese is a copy of the work by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), which stands in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Thorvaldsen, who spent most of his professional life in Rome, began work on the statue in 1831 and three years later it was shipped to London.
The base is inscribed with lines from Byron's long narrative poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-18):
Oh Rome! my country! city of the soul!
The orphans of the heart must turn to thee,
Lone mother of dead empires! and control
In their shut breasts their petty misery.
What are our woes and sufferance? Come and see
The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way
O’er steps of broken thrones and temples, ye!
Whose agonies are evils of a day--
A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.
But I have lived, and have not lived in vain:
My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire,
And my frame perish even in conquering pain;
But there is that within me which shall tire
Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire;
Something unearthly, which they deem not of,
Like the remember’d tone of a mute lyre,
Shall on their soften’d spirits sink, and move
In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.
Thou art the Garden of the World, the Home
Of all Art yields, and Nature can decree;
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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