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A quick journey to Venice through art and poetry

by | Jul 14, 2020 | Maritime Art, Culture and History, Poetry and Music

Who would not want to journey to Venice, the city beloved by famous artists and ordinary tourists alike? The English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, summed up its appeal in his poem ‘Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation’: “Its temples and its palaces did seem / Like fabrics of enchantment piled to Heaven.” Alas, not everyone has the means or the opportunity to visit the place. But no worries, the following artworks and poems will transport you blissfully to beautiful Venice.

Venice, from the Porch of Madonna della Salute, circa 1835
Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, London 1775–1851)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking Southeast, with the Campo della Carità to the Right, 1730s
Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) (Italian, 1697–1768)
Courtest of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Doge’s Palace (Le Palais ducal), 1908
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

White swan of cities, slumbering in thy nest
So wonderfully built among the reeds
Of the lagoon, that fences thee and feeds,
As sayeth thy old historian and thy guest!
White water-lily, cradled and caressed
By ocean streams, and from the silt and weeds
Lifting thy golden filaments and seeds,
Thy sun-illumined spires, thy crown and crest!
White phantom city, whose untrodden streets
Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting
Shadows of palaces and strips of sky;
I wait to see thee vanish like the fleets
Seen in mirage, or towers of cloud uplifting
In air their unsubstantial masonry.

View of Venice, undated
G. Saetta (Italian, 1800–1899)
Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Gondolas, Grand Canal, Venice, undated
Robert Frederick Blum (American, 1857–1903)
Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Venedig bei Mondschein (Venice by Moonlight), 1861
Eduard Schleich the Elder (German, 1812–1874)
Courtesy of Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Bavarian State Painting Collections)
Licence: Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) 

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage [I stood in Venice]

Lord Byron (1788–1824)

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs,
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O’er the far times, when many a subject land
Looked to the wingéd Lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion,
A ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was–her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East
Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers:
In purple was she robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
And music meets not always now the ear:
Those days are gone–but Beauty still is here;
States fall, arts fade–but Nature doth not die,
Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!



Planning to visit Venice?

Download this small but informative guide. Click here.

~ Barista Uno

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