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Death of Jacopo Foscari

by George Gordon Byron, 1881

(Two Foscari, Act iv. Scene 1.)

To JACOPO FOSCARI, MARINA, and the DOGE, enter an Officer and Guards.

Offi.  signor! the boat is at the shore—the wind
Is rising—we are ready to attend you.
  Jac. Fos.  And I to be attended. Once more, father,
Your hand!
  Doge.      Take it. Alas! how thine own trembles!
  Jac. Fos.  No—you mistake; ’tis yours that shakes, my father,
  Doge.    Farewell! Is there aught else?
  Jac. Fos.                            No—nothing.
[To the Officer.

Lend me your arm, good signor.
  Offi.                        You turn pale—
Let me support you—paler—ho! some aid there!
Some water!
  Mar.      Ah, he is dying!
  Jac. Fos.                            Now, I’m ready—
My eyes swim strangely—where’s the door?
  Mar.                            Away!
Let me support him—my best love! Oh, God!
How faintly beats this heart—this pulse!
  Jac. Fos.                            The light!
Is it the light?—I am faint.
[Officer presents him with water.
  Offi.                    He will be better,
Perhaps, in the air.
  Jac. Fos.            I doubt not. Father—wife—
Your hands.
  Mar.  There’s death in that damp clammy grasp.
Oh, God!—My Foscari, how fare you?
  Jac. Fos.                                Well!
[He dies.

  Offi.  He’s gone!
  Doge.                He’s free.
  Mar.                            No—no, he is not dead;
There must be life yet in that heart—he could not
Thus leave me.
  Doge.        Daughter!
  Mar.                    Hold thy peace, old man!
I am no daughter now—thou hast no son.
Oh, Foscari!
  Offi.        We must remove the body.
  Mar.  Touch it not, dungeon miscreants! your base office
Ends with his life, and goes not beyond murder,
Even by your murderous laws. Leave his remains
To those who know to honour them.
  Offi.                            I must
Inform the signory, and learn their pleasure.
  Doge.  Inform the signory, from me, the Doge,
They have no further power upon those ashes:
While he lived, he was theirs, as fits a subject—
Now he is mine—my broken-hearted boy!
[Exit Officer.

  Mar.  And I must live!
  Doge.                    Your children live, Marina.
  Mar.  My children! true—they live, and I must live
To bring them up to serve the state, and die
As died their father. Oh! what best of blessings
Were barrenness in Venice! Would my mother
Had been so!
  Doge.            My unhappy children!
  Mar.                            What!
You feel it then at last—you!—Where is now
The stoic of the state?
  Doge (throwing himself down by the body).  Here!
  Mar.                            Ay, weep on!
I thought you had no tears—you hoarded them
Until they are useless; but weep on! he never
Shall weep more—never, more.

Published in Poetry of Byron

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