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“ ALL IS VANITY, SAITH THE PREACHER."
FAME, wisdom, love, and power were mine,
And health and youth possess'd me;
And lovely forms caress'd me;
And felt my soul grow tender;
Was mine of regal splendour.
Remembrance can discover,
Would lure me to live over.
Of pleasure unembitter'd ;
That galld not while it glitter'd.
VISION OF BELSHAZZAR The King was on his throne,
The Satraps throng'd the hall; A thousand bright lamps shone
O'er that high festival. A thousand cups of gold,
In Judah deem'd divine Jehovah's vessels hold
The godless Heathen's wine.
In that same hour and hall,
The fingers of a hand Came forth against the wall,
And wrote as if on sand: The fingers of a man ;
A solitary hand Along the letters ran,
And traced them like a wand.
WERE MY BOSOM AS FALSE AS THOU
And now on that mountain I stood on that day, DEEM'ST IT TO BE.
But I mark'd not the twilight beam melting away ;
Oh! would that the lightning had glared in its stead, Were my bosom as false as thou deem'st it to be,
And the thunderbolt burst on the conqueror's head ! I need not have wander'd from far Galilee; It was but abjuring my creed to efface
But the Gods of the Pagan shall never profane The curse which, thou say'st, is the crime of my race:
The shrine where Jehovah disdain'd not to reigni;
And scatter'd and scorn'd as thy people may be, If the bad never triumph, then God is with thee !
Our worship, oh Father, is only for thee.
BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON WE SAT I have lost for that faith more than thou canst bestow,
DOWN AND WEPT. As the God who permits thee to prosper doth know;
We sate down and wept by the waters In his hand is my heart and my hope — and in thine
Of Babel, and thought of the day The land and the life which for him I resign.
When our foe, in the hue of his slaughters,
Made Salcm's higb places his prey ;
And ye, oh her desolate daughters ! HEROD'S LAMENT FOR MARIAMNE. I
Were scatter'd all weeping away. Oh, Mariamne! now for thee
While sadly we gazed on the river The heart for which thou bled'st is bleeding;
Wbich roli'd on in freedom below, Revenge is lost in agony,
They demanded the song ; but, oh never And wild remorse to rage succeeding.
That triumph the stranger shall know ! Oh, Mariainne! where art thou?
May this right hand be wither'd for ever, Thou canst not hear my bitter pleading.
Ere it string our high harp for the foe ! Ah! couldst thou — thou wouldst pardon now,
On the willow that harp is suspended, Though Heaven were to my prayer unbeeding.
On Salem ! its sound should be free ; Aud is she dead ? — and did they dare
And the hour when thy glories were ended Obey my frenzy's jealous raving ?
But left me that token of thee : My wrath but doom'd my own despair :
And ne'er shall its soft tones be blended The sword that smote her 's o'er me waving.
With the voice of the spoiler by me ! But thou art cold, my murder'd love !
And this dark heart is vainly craving For her who soars alone above,
THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB. And leaves my soul unworthy saving.
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fuld, She's gone, who shared my diadem ;
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold ; She sunk, with her my joys entombing ;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, I swept that flower from Judah's stem,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee. Whose leaves for me alone were blooming;
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green, And mine's the guilt, and mine the bell,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen : This bosom's desolation dooming;
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown, And I have earn'd those tortures well,
That host on the morrow lay wither'd and strown. Which unconsumed are still consuming!
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill, ON THE DAY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF
And their hearts but once heav'd, and for ever grew JERUSALEM BY TITUS.
still ! From the last hill that looks on thy once holy dome
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, I beheld thee, oh Sion ! when render'd to Rome :
But through it there rollid not the breath of his pride : 'T was thy last sun went down, and the flames of thy fall
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the tut, Flash'd back on the last glance I gave to thy wall.
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf. I look'd for thy temple, I look'd for my home, And there lay the rider distorted and pale, And forgot for a moment my bondage to come; With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail; I be held but the death-fire that fed on thy fane, And the tents were all silent, the banners alone, And the fast fetter'd hands that made vengeance in vain. The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown. On many an eve, the high spot whence I gazed And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail, llad reflected the last beam of day as it blazed ; And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal ; While I stood on the height, and beheld the decline And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Of the rays from the mountain that shone on thy shrine, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord !
" (Mariamne, the wise of Herod the Great. falling under the murder of her grandfather, father, brother, and uncle, anal the suspicion of infidelity, was put to death by his order. She who had twice cominanded her death, in case of his own. was a woman of unrivalled beauty, and a haughty spirit: un Ever after, Herod was haunted by the image of the murdered happy in being the object of passionate attachment, which Mariamne, until disorder of the mind brought on disorder of bordered on frenzy, to a man who had inore or less concern in body, which led to temporary derangeir.ent. — MILMAN.]
But never either sound another
Fare thee well! and if for ever,
Still for ever, fare thee well : Even though unforgiving, never
'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel. Would that breast were bared before thee
Where thy head so oft hath lain, While that placid sleep came o'er thee
Which thou ne'er canst know again : Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
Every inmost thought could show ! Then thou wouldst at last discover
'T was not well to spurn it so. Though the world for this commend thee
Though it smile upon the blow, Even its praises must offend thee,
Founded on another's woe : Though my many faults dcfaced me,
Could no other arm be found, Than the one which once embraced me,
To inflict a cureless wound ?
And when thou would solace gather,
When our child's first accents flow, Wilt thou teach her to say “ Father !
Though his care she must forego ? When her little hands shall press thee,
When her lip to thine is press'd, Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee,
Think of him thy love had bless'd ! Should her lineaments resemble
Those thou never more may'st see,
With a pulse yet true to me.
All my madness none can know;
Wither, yet with thee they go. Every feeling hath been shaken ;
Pride, which not a world could bow, Bows to thee - by thee forsaken,
Even my soul forsakes me now:
" (The Hebrew Melodies, though obviously inferior to Lord Byron's other works, display a skill in versification and a inastery in diction, which would have raised an inferior artist to the very summit of distinction. - JEFFREY.]
? [It was about the middle of April that his two celebrated copies of verses, " Fare thee well," and " A Sketch," made their appearance in the newspapers ; and while the latter poem was generally, and, it must be owned, justly condemned, as a sort of literary assault on an obscure female, whose situation ought to have placed her as much beneath his satire, as the undignitied mode of his attack certainly raised her above it, with regard to the other poem, opinions were a good deal more divided. To many it appeared a strain of true conjugal tenderness, - a kind of appeal which no woman with a heart could resist; while, by others, on the contrary, it was considered to be a mere showy eflusion of sentiment, as difficult for real feeling to have produced as it was easy for l'ancy and art, and altogether unworthy of the deep interests involved in
the subject. To this latter opinion ! confess my own to have, at first, strongly inclined ; and suspicious as I could not help thinking the sentiment that could, at such a moment, indulge in such verses, the taste that prompted or sanctioned their publication appeared to me even still more questionable. On reading, however, his own account of all the circumstances in the Memoranda, I found that on both points I had, in common with a large portion of the public, done hiin injustice. He there described, and in a manner whose sincerity there was no doubting, the swell of tender recollections under the intluence of which, as he sat one night musing in his study. these stanzas were produced, the tears, as he said, falling fast over the paper as he wrote them. Seither did it appear, from that account, to have been from any wish or intention of his own, but through the injudicious zeal of a friend whom he had suffered to take a copy, that the verses met the public eye. - MOORE. The uppearance of the MS. confirm's this account of the circumstances under which it was written. It is blotted all over with the marks of tcars.]
But 't is done all words are idle
Have given her power too deeply to instil
The angry essence of her deadly will;
If like a snake she steal within your walls,
Till the black slime betray her as she crawls;
If like a viper to the heart she wind,
And leave the venom there she did not find;
What marvel that this hag of hatred works
Eternal evil latent as she lurks,
To make a Pandemonium where she dwells,
And reign the Hecate of domestic hells ?
With all the kind mendacity of hints, (smiles —
While mingling truth with falsehood - sncers with
A plain blunt show of briefly-spoken seeming,
To hide her bloodless heart's soul-harden'd scheming;
And, without feeling, mock at all who feel : Bors in the garret, in thc kitchen bred,
With a vile mask the Gorgon would disown; Promoted thence to deck her mistress' head;
A cheek of parchment — and an eye of stone. Next - for some gracious servicc unexpress'u,
Mark, how the channels of her yellow blood And from its wages only to be gucss'd
Ooze to her skin, and stagnate there to mud, Raised from the toilet to the table, where
Cased like the centipede in satfron mail, Hier wondering betters wait behind her chair.
Or darker greenness of the scorpion's scale With eye unmoved, and forehead unabash'd,
(For drawn from reptiles only may we trace She dines froin off the plate she lately wash'd.
Congenial colours in that soul or face) – Quick with the tale, and ready with the lie
Look on her features ! and behold her mind The gerial confidante, and general spy —
As in a mirror of itself defined : Who could, ye gods ! her next employment guess —
Louk on the picture ! deem it not o'ercharged An only infant's earliest governess !
There is no trait which might not be enlarged : She taught the child to read, and taught so well,
Yet true to “ Nature's journeymen," who made That she herself, by teaching, learn'd to spell,
This monster when their mistress left off trade An adept next in penmanship she grows,
This female dog-star of her little sky,
Where all beneath her influence droop or die.
Oh! wretch without a tear - without a thought, And panted for the truth it could not hear,
Save joy above the ruin thou hast wroughtWith longing breast and undeluded ear.
The time shall come, nor long remote, when thou Foil'd was perversion by that youthful mind,
Shalt feel far more than thou inflictest now; Which Flattery fool'd not Baseness could not blind,
Feel for thy vile self-loving self in vain, Deceit infect not — near Contagion soil
And turn thee howling in unpitied pain. Indulgence weaken - nor Example spoil
May the strong curse of crush'd affections light Nor master'd Science tempt ler to look down
Back on thy bosom with redected blight ! On humbler talents with a pitying trown
And make thee in thy leprosy of mind Nor Genius swell — nor Beauty render vain
As loathsome to thyself as to mankind ! Nor Envy ruffle to retaliate pain
Till all thy self-thoughts curdle into hate, Nor Fortune change — Pride raise -- nor Passion bow,
Black -- as thy will for others would create : Nor Virtue teach austerity - till now,
Till thy hard heart be calcined into dust, Serenely purest of her sex that live,
And thy soul welter in its hideous crust. But wanting one sweet weakness -- to forgive,
Oh, may thy grave be sleepless as the bed, Too shock'd at faults her soul can never know,
The widow'd couch of fire, that thou hast spread ! She deems that all could be like her below :
Then, when thou fain wouldst weary Heaven with Foe to all vice, yet hardly Virtue's friend,
prayer, For Virtue pardons those she would amend,
Look on thine earthly victims - and despair!
Down to the dust !- and, as thoni rott'st away, But to the theme :-- now laid aside too long,
Ever worms shall perish on thy poisonous clay. The baleful burtben of this honest song -
But for the love I bore, and still must bear, Though all her former functions are no more,
To her thy malice from all ties would tear — She rules the circle which she served before.
Thy name—thy human name— to every eye If mothers — none know why - before her quake;
The climax of all scorn should hang on high, If laughters dread her for the mothers' sake;
Exalted o'er thy less abhorr'd compeers If early habits — those false links, which bind
And festering in the infumy of years. At times the loitiest to the meanest mind
March 29. 1816. 1 ["I send you my last night's dream, and request to have use' weltering in the wind,' weltering on a gibbet?' I have fifty copies struck off, for private distribution. I wish Mr. no dictionary, so look. In the mean time, I have put fps. Gildrd to look at them. They are from life." - Lord Byrontering ;' which, perhaps, in any case is the best word of the
two. to Jr. Jurray, March 30. 1816.)
Shakspeare has it often, and I do not think it too strong
for the figure in this thing. Quick ! quick i quick I quick! 2 ( in first draught - "welterinz." _“I doubt about' wel.
- Lord Byron to Mr. Murray, April 2.) tering.' We say weltering in blood ;' but do not they also
I h 3
STANZAS TO ACGESTA. 1 Whex all around grow drear and dark,
And reason half withheld her ray — And hope but shed a dying spark
Which more misled my lonely way; In that deep midnight of the mind,
And that internal strife of heart. When dreading to be deem'd tou kind,
The weak despair - the cold depart; When fortune changed — and love fled far,
And hatred's shafts flew thick and fast, Thou wert the solitary star
Which rose, and set not to the last. Oh! blest be thine unbroken light!
That watch'd me as a seraph's eye, And stood between me and the night,
For ever shining sweetly nigh And wben the cloud upon us came,
Which strove to blacken o'er thy ray -Then purer spread its gentle flame,
And dash'd the darkness all away. Still may thy spirit dwell on mine,
And teach it what to brave or brook There's more in one soft word of thine
"Than in the world's defied rebuke. Thou stood'st, as stands a lovely tree,
That still unbroke, though gently bent, Still waves with fond fidelity
Its boughs above a monument The wtrds might rend - the skies might pour,
But there thou wert-and still wouldst be Devoted in the stormiest hour
To shed thy weeping leaves o'er me. But thou and thine shall know no blight,
Whatever fate on me may fall; For heaven in sunshine will reguite
The kind - and thee the most of all. Then let the ties of baflled love
Be broken — thine will never break; Thy heart can feel - but will not move ;
Thy soul, though soft, will never shake. And these, when all was lost beside,
Were found and still are fix'd in thee; And bearing still a breast so tried,
Earth is no desert --ev'n to me.
Thy soft heart refused to discover
The faults which so many could find ; Though thy soul with my grief was acquainted
It shrunk not to share it with me,
It never hath found but in thee.
The last smile which answers to mine,
Because it reminds me of thine;
As the breasts I believed in with me,
It is that they bear me from thee.
And its fragments are sunk in the ware,
To pain- it shall not be its slave. There is many a pang to pursue me :
They may crush, but they shall not contemn. They may torture, but shall not subdue me
'Tis of thee that I think — not of them. * Though human, thou didst not deceive me,
Though woman, chou didst not forsake, Though loved, thou forborest to grieve me,
Though slander'd, thou never couldst shake, Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me,
Though parted, it was not to fly, Though watchful, 't was not to defame me,
Nor, mute, that the world might belie. 5 Yet I blame not the world, nor despise it,
Nor the war of the many with one — If my soul was not fitted to prize it,
"T was folly not sooner to shun: And if dearly that error hath cost me,
And more than I once could foresee, I have found that, whatever it lost me,
It could not deprive me of thee.
Thus much I at least may recall,
Deserved to be dearest of all :
In the wide waste there still is a tree,
July 24. 1816
STANZAS TO AUGUSTA. 9 Though the day of my destiny 's over,
And the star of my fate hath declined, 3 .
EPISTLE TO AUGUSTA. 6 My sister! my sweet sister ! if a name Dearer and purer were, it should be thine. Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
"(The Poet's sister, the Honourable Mrs. Leigh. – These stanzas - the parting tribute to her, whose unshaken tenderness had been the author's sole consolation during the crisis of domestic misery - were, we believe, the Last rerses written by Lord Byron in England. In a note to Mr. Rogers, dated April 16th, he says, -" My sister is now with me, and Icaves town to-morrow: we shall not meet again for some time at all events, - if ever! and, under these circunstances, I trust to stand excused to you and Mr. Sheridan, for being unable to wait upon him this evening." On the 25th, the Poet took a last leave of his native country.)
2 [These beautiful verses, so expressive of the writer's wounded feelings at the moment. were written in July, at the Campagne Diodati, near Genera, and transmitted to England for publication, with some other pieces. "Be careiul," he
says, " in printing the stanzas beginning.. Though the day of my destiny's, ' &c., which I think well of as a composition.") 3 [“ Though the days of my glory are over,
And the sun of my fane hath declined." - MS.) * (" There is many a pang to pursue me,
Aud many a peril to stern:
They may crush, but they shall not contemn."-MS.) [“ Though watchful, 't was but to reclaim me,
Nor, silent, to sanction a lie." - MS.) • [These stanzas — " Than which," says the Quarterly Review, for January, 1831, "there is. perhaps, nothing more mournfully and desolately beautiful in the whole range of Lord Byron's poetry" - were also written at Diodati ; anıt