Page images
PDF

the poet's life, but it was written not long after the deaths of his mother and of several of the friends of his youth, which deeply affected him. With this stimulus the poem may very well have been written directly from the Latin text which is prefixed to it, which is echoed in the concluding lines, and which Moore also paraphrased in the poem mentioned below.

280 : 1. For the motto, cf. Shenstone, Inscription on an Ornamented Urn' (To Miss Dolman : in Chalmers' Poets, xiii, 330). Translated by Moore :

“To live with them is far less sweet,

Than to remember thee.” Moore's poem ("I saw thy form in youthful prime,' in the · Irish Melodies'), written in a stanza of which Byron's seems to be a modification, and upon a similar theme and from the same motto or text, was probably Byron's starting point in this lyric. Byron was a great admirer of Moore's songs. The two poems may be compared with profit. They exhibit strikingly the differences in diction, tone of sentiment, and lyric method of the two poets.

291 : “CLIME OF THE UNFORGOTTEN BRAVE!” From The Giaour,' written and published in the spring of 1813,-a poem to which a motto from Moore is prefixed.

292 : “KNOW YE THE LAND.” From The Bride of Abydos,' written in November, and published early in December, 1813. These form the opening lines of the poem and are written in a different metre from the rest. These lines were written as an after-thought, while the poem was passing through the press. They suggest at once Goethe's famous lyric, prefixed to the first chapter of the third book of · Wilhelm Meister':

“ Kennst du das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn,

Im dunkeln Laub die Goldorangen glühn,
Ein sanfter Wind vom blauen Himmel weht,
Die Myrte still und hoch der Lorbeer steht ?
Kennst du es wohl ?-Dahin ! Dabin

Möcht ich mit dir, O mein Geliebter, ziehn,” etc.
The resemblance, however, is merely in general theme and
coloring. Byron has not followed his model very closely, if
Goethe were his model. As he did not read German, this last

seems doubtful. He, however, was accused of borrowing these lines from Madame de Staël's paraphrase :

“ Cette terre, où les myrtes fleurissent,

Où les rayons des cieux tombent avec amour,
Où des sons enchanteurs dans les airs retentissent,

Où la plus douce nuit succède au plus beau jour.” This charge the Countess of Blessington ("Conversations with Byron,' 326) reports him as denying. In any event, while the motive is the same, the resemblance otherwise is merely a vague and general one. The lines as given above are from the Countess of Blessington's book. In Madame de Staël's · L'Allemagne (ch. xxviii) only the first line is given, and that in another form, viz.:

“ Connais-tu cette terre où les citronniers fleurissent.” The measure is a four-foot verse of free anapæstic movement, 292:8. Gúl. The rose. [Byron's note.

293: “O’ER THE GLAD WATERS OF THE DARK-BLUE SEA." The opening lines of "The Corsair,' written in December, 1813, and published in January, 1814. The poem is written in heroic couplets. The first line, however, is rhythmically exceedingly irregular, although metrically regular, producing thus a strong effect of rapidity and animation. The management of cadence and pause in this entire passage may be studied with advantage.

294: "Slow SINKS, MORE LOVELY ERE HIS RACE BE RUN.” The opening lines of the third canto of The Corsair,' 1813-14. These lines, however, as Byron tells us in a note, were written in 1811 for another (unpublished) poem, -and so may the more justifiably here be detached from The Corsair' as a whole. “ They were,” he says, “written on the spot,”-i.e., at Athens.

Could a painter comprehend the picture, here given, on one canvas ? What does the poet here give which the painter could not give ?

294: 7. Idra's isle. Idra, otherwise Hydra, an island off the east coast of the Morea.

294 : 22. “Socrates drank the hemlock a short time before sunset (the hour of execution), notwithstanding the entreaties of his disciples to wait till the sun went down.” [Byron's note,

295: 29. Citharon's head. A mountain in Boeotia, northwest from Athens.

295: 33. high Hymettus. A mountain two miles southeast from Athens.

295 : 42. meek Cephisus. The smaller stream of this name, in

Attica.

295 : 44, 46. " The Kiosk is a Turkish summer-house: the palm is without the present walls of Athens, not far from the temple of Theseus, between which and the tree the wall intervenes. Cephisus' stream is indeed scanty, and Ilissus has no stream at all.” [Byron's note.

296 : “She Walks in BEAUTY.” The first among the so-called • Hebrew Melodies,' written in December, 1814, and published in 1815. The volume was intended for the use of the modern Israelites, the music being written or arranged by Messrs. Nathan and Braham. At the solicitation of his friend the Hon. Douglas Kinnaird, Byron consented to write a number of songs for the collection.

The editor of the 1832 edition of Byron's Works appends the following note to this lyric: “These stanzas were written by Lord Byron on returning from a ballroom, where he had seen Mrs. (now Lady) Wilmot Horton, the wife of his relation, the

appeared in mourning, with numerous spangles on her dress.”

296: 3. The meaning is made more explicit in l. 7.

296 :5. Thus mellowed. i.e., through the meeting. “in her aspect and her eyes."

296: “IF THAT High WORLD.". Also from the · Hebrew Melodies,' 1814.

296 : 2. Love is the subject of the sentence.

297: 14. The phrase is elliptical ; after “shares" is understood some such phrase as “ mutual love with it."

297: “Oh! SNATCH'D AWAY IN BEAUTY'S BLOOM." From the “Hebrew Melodies,' 1814.

297: “WHEN COLDNESS WRAPS THIS SUFFERING CLAY.” From the · Hebrew Melodies,' 1814.

298. THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB. From the Hebrew Melodies,' 1814.

Cf. II · Kings'xviii-xix, esp. xviii, 13: “Now in the fourteenth

year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib, king of Assyria, come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.” Also xix, 35: “ And it came to pass that night that the angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” Cf. also II Chronicles' xxxii, and · Isaiah'xxxvi-vii.

299:21. the widows of Ashur. i.e. of Assyria, the ancient Semitic kingdom of Asshur, or perhaps one of its capitals, the city of the same name.

299 : " THERE BE NONE OF BEAUTY's Daughters.” Written in 1815, as “Stanzas for Music." Published 1816.

The rhythmical scansion of these two stanzas is difficult, if not practically impossible, after any consistent scheme. As they were written for music, however, the metrical scansion is the more important. This seems to require the scheme 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3,4, 4 (i.e. a four-foot line, a three-foot, etc.), with allowance of a full rest or pause to complete the defective foot in each seven-syllabled line.

299 : 3. Cf. “Manfred,' I, i, 177.

300: So we'LL GO NO MORE A-ROVING. Sent in the poet's letter of February 28, 1817, from Venice to Moore, introduced with the following words: “ The Carnival—that is, the latter part of it, and sitting up late o' nights, had knocked me up a little. But it is over,--and it is now Lent, with all its abstinence and sacred music. The mumming closed with a masked ball at the Fenice, where I went, as also to most of the ridottos, etc., etc.; and, though I did not dissipate much upon the whole, yet I find • the sword wearing out the scabbard,' though I have but just turned the corner of twenty-nine.

So, we'll go no more a-roving,” etc. .... 300. “O, TALK NOT TO ME OF A NAME GREAT IN STORY.” Otherwise headed · Stanzas written on the road between Florence and Pisa.' Written in the autumn of 1821.

301. SONG OF THE SOUTH-SEA ISLANDERS. From "The Island,' written early in 1823, and published in June of the same year. The poem as a whole is chiefly concerned with the story of the mutiny of the Bounty, and, as Byron tells us, is founded on Bligh's · Narrative of the Mutiny and Seizure of the Bounty, in the South Seas, in 1789,' and on Mariner's • Account of the Tonga Islands.' This passage occurs at the beginning of canto II.

301 : 1 ff. " The first three sections are taken from an actual song of the Tonga Islanders, of which a prose translation is given in · Mariner's Account of the Tonga Islands.' Toobonai is not, however, one of them ; but was one of those where ... the mutineers took refuge. I have altered and added, but have retained as much as possible of the original." (Byron's note. - This "original,” in the prose translation mentioned, is as follows:

“Whilst we were talking of Vaváoo toa Licoo, the women said to us, let us repair to the back of the island to contemplate the setting sun : there let us listen to the warbling of the birds and the cooing of the wood-pigeon. We will gather flowers from the burying-place at Matáwto, and partake of refreshments prepared for us at Licoo Onë : we will then bathe in the sea, and rinse ourselves in the Váoo Áca ; we will anoint our skins in the sun with sweet scented oil, and will plait in wreaths the flowers gathered at Matáwto. And now as we stand motionless on the eminence over Ana Mánoo, the whistling of the wind among the branches of the lofty toa shall fill us with a pleasing melancholy; or our minds shall be seized with astonishment as we behold the roaring surf below, endeavouring but in vain to tear away the firm rocks. Oh ! how much happier shall we be thus employed, than when engaged in the troublesome and insipid affairs of life!

Now as night comes on, we must return to the Moóa : But hark ! hear you not the sound of the mats ?-they are practising a bo-obla * to be performed to-night on the malái at Tanéo. Let us also go there. How will that scene of rejoicing call to our minds the many festivals held there, before Vaváoo was torn to pieces by war! Alas, how destructive is war! Behold ! how it has rendered the land productive of weeds, and opened untimely graves for departed heroes ! Our chiefs can now no longer enjoy the sweet pleasures of wandering alone by moonlight in search of their mistresses. But let us banish sorrow from our hearts : since we are at war, we must think and act like the natives of Fiji, who first taught us this destructive art. Let us therefore enjoy the present time, for to-morrow perhaps, or the next day, we may die. We will dress ourselves with chi coola, and put bands of white táppa round our waists. We will plait thick wreaths of jiale for our heads, and prepare strings of hooni for our necks, that their whiteness may show off the colour of our skins. Mark how the

*“A kind of dance performed by torch-light.”

« PreviousContinue »