A monologue from the play by Lord Byron

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  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Lord Byron: Six Plays. Lord Byron. Los Angeles: Black Box Press, 2007.
  • JACOPO FOSCARI: [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.]