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The music of thy martial sphere
Like lava roll'd thy stream of blood,
Of three bright colours, each divine,
One tint was of the sunbeam's dyes;
Star of the brave! thy ray is pale,
And Freedom hallows with her tread
Farewell to thee, France! when thy diadem crown'd me,
2 [In the original MS.-" A Dream."]
[In this poem Lord Byron has abandoned the art, so peculiarly his own, of showing the reader where his purpose tends, and has contented himself with presenting a mass of powerful ideas unarranged, and the meaning of which it is not easy to attain. A succession of terrible images is placed before us, flitting and mixing, and disengaging themselves, as in the dream of a feverish man-chimeras dire, to whose existence the mind refuses credit, which confound and weary the ordinary reader, and baffle the comprehension, even of those more accustomed to the flights of a poetic muse. The subject is the progress of utter darkness, until it becomes, in Shakspeare's phrase, the "burier of the dead;" and the assemblage of terrific ideas which the poet has placed before us only
Oh! for the veteran hearts that were wasted
Then turn thee and call on the Chief of thy choice!
ENDORSEMENT TO THE DEED OF SEPAR-
A YEAR ago you swore, fond she!
"To love, to honour," and so forth: Such was the vow you pledged to me, And here's exactly what 't is worth.
And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
Arose and o'ershadow'd the earth with her name.
I have warr'd with a world which vanquish'd me only
FAREWELL to the Land, where the gloom of my Glory Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
The last single Captive to millions in war.
I HAD a dream, which was not all a dream. 3
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
fail in exciting our terror from the extravagance of the plan. To speak plainly, the framing of such phantasms is a dangerous employment for the exalted and teeming imagination of such a poet as Lord Byron, whose Pegasus ever required rather a bridle than a spur. The waste of boundless space into which they lead the poet, the neglect of precision which such themes may render habitual, make them, in respect to poetry, what mysticism is to religion. The meaning of the poet, as he ascends upon cloudy wing, becomes the shadow only of a thought, and having eluded the comprehension of others, necessarily ends by escaping from that of the author himself. The strength of poetical conception, and the beauty of diction, bestowed upon such prolusions, is as much thrown away as the colours of a painter, could he take a cloud of mist, or a wreath of smoke, for his canvass.-SIR WALTER SCOTT.]
The pall of a past world; and then again
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
The birds and beasts famish'd men at bay,
And they were enemies: they met beside
Where had been heap'd a mass of hely things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Each other's aspects- saw, and shriek'd, and died—
["Darkness" is a grand and gloomy sketch of the supposed consequences of the final extinction of the Sun and the heavenly bodies: executed, undoubtedly, with great and fearful force, but with something of German exaggeration, and a fantastical solution of incidents. The very conception is terrible above all conception of known calamity, and is too oppressive to the imagination to be contemplated with pleasure, even in the faint reflection of poetry. - JEFFREY.]
[On the sheet containing the original draught of these lines, Lord Byron has written:-"The following poem (as most that I have endeavoured to write) is founded on a fact; and this detail is an attempt at a serious imitation of the style of a great poet-its beauties and its defects: I say the style; for the thoughts I claim as my own. In this, if there be any thing ridiculous, let it be attributed to me, at least as much as to Mr. Wordsworth; of whom there can exist few greater admirers than myself. I have blended what I would deem to be the beauties as well as defects of his style; and it ought to be remembered, that, in such things, whether there be praise or dispraise, there is always what is called a compliment, however unintentional."]
And the clouds perish'd! Darkness had no need Of aid from them-She was the Universe. 1
Diodati, July 1816.
I STOOD beside the grave of him who blazed
With not the less of sorrow and of awe
The Gardener of that ground, why it might be That for this plant strangers his memory task'd
Through the thick deaths of half a century? And thus he answer'd-" Well, I do not know Why frequent travellers turn to pilgrims so; He died before my day of Sextonship,
And I had not the digging of this grave." And is this all? I thought, and do we rip
The veil of Immortality? and crave
I know not what of honour and of light
Were it not that all life must end in one,
Your honour pleases,”—then most pleased I shook
In which there was Obscurity and Fame, -
3 ["The Grave of Churchill might have called from Lord Byron a deeper commemoration; for, though they generally differed in character and genius, there was a resemblance between their history and character. The satire of Churchill flowed with a more profuse, though not a more embittered, stream; while, on the other hand, he cannot be compared to Lord Byron in point of tenderness or imagination. But both these poets held themselves above the opinion of the world, and both were followed by the fame and popularity which they seemed to despise. The writings of both exhibit an inborn, though sometimes ill-regulated, generosity of mind, and a spirit of proud independence, frequently pushed to extremes. Both carried their hatred of hypocrisy beyond the verge of prudence, and indulged their vein of satire to the borders of licentiousness. Both died in the flower of their age in a foreign land."- SIR WALTER SCOTT. Churchill died at Boulogne, November 4. 1764, in the thirty-third year of his age." Though his associates obtained Christian burial for him, by bringing the body to Dover, where it was interred in the old cemetery which once belonged to the collegiate church of St. Martin, they inscribed upon his tombstone, in
TITAN! to whose immortal eyes The sufferings of mortality, Seen in their sad reality,
Were not as things that gods despise ;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
Which speaks but in its loneliness, And then is jealous lest the sky Should have a listener, nor will sigh Until its voice is echoless.
Titan! to thee the strife was given
Was thine-and thou hast borne it well.
Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,
To render with thy precepts less The sum of human wretchedness, And strengthen Man with his own mind; But baffled as thou wert from high, Still in thy patient energy,
In the endurance, and repulse
Of thine impenetrable Spirit, Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse, A mighty lesson we inherit : Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals of their fate and force;
A troubled stream from a pure source;
His wretchedness, and his resistance,
And a firm will, and a deep sense,
Its own concenter'd recompense, Triumphant where it dares defy, And making Death a Victory.
Diodati, July, 1816.
stead of any consolatory or monitory text, this Epicurean line from one of his own poems
"Life to the last enjoy'd, here Churchill lies." Southey's Cowper, vol. ii. p. 159.]
COULD I remount the river of my years
To the first fountain of our smiles and tears,
What is this Death ?-a quiet of the heart?
The absent are the dead-for they are cold, And ne'er can be what once we did behold; And they are changed, and cheerless, or if yet The unforgotten do not all forget, Since thus divided-equal must it be If the deep barrier be of earth, or sea; It may be both-but one day end it must In the dark union of insensate dust.
The under-earth inhabitants-are they But mingled millions decomposed to clay? The ashes of a thousand ages spread Wherever man has trodden or shall tread? Or do they in their silent cities dwell Each in his incommunicative cell?
Or have they their own language? and a sense
SONNET TO LAKE LEMAN.
But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee, How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel,
In sweetly gliding o'er thy crystal sea, The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal, Which of the heirs of immortality
Is proud, and makes the breath of glory real! Diodati, July, 1816.
Geneva, Ferney, Copet, Lausanne.-[See antè, p. 35."I have traversed all Rousseau's ground with the Héloise before me, and am struck to a degree that I cannot express, with the force and accuracy of his descriptions, and the beauty of their reality."- Byron Letters, 1816.]