« PreviousContinue »
Seat of my youth ! I thy distant spire
My Lycus 12 wherefore dost thou weep?
* [The young poet had recently received from Lord Clare, an epistle containing this passage:– “I think by your last letter that you are very much piqued with most of your friends ; and, if s am not much mistaken, a little so with me. In one part you say, “there is little or no doubt, a few years, or months, will render us as politely indifferent to each other, as if we had never passed a portion of our time together:' indeed, Byron, you wrong mei, and I have no doubt — at least I hope — you wrong yourself.")
* [It is difficult to conjecture for what reason, — but these stanzas were not included in the publication of 1807; though few will hesitate to place thena higher than any thing given in that volume. “Written when the author was not nineteen years of age, this remarkable poem shows,” says Moore, “how
THE PRAYER OF NATURE. 4
FATHER of Light ! great God of Heavcn 1 Hear'st thou the accents of despair 7
Can guilt like man's be e'er forgiven 2 Can vice atone for crimes by prayer?
Father of Light, on thee I call !
Thou who canst mark the sparrow's fall,
No shrine I seek, to sects unknown ;
Thy dread omnipotence I own ; -
Let bigots rear a gloomy fane,
Let priests, to spread their sable reign,
Shall man confine his Maker's sway
Thy temple is the face of day;
Shall man condemn his race to hell,
Tell us that all, for one who fell,
Shall each pretend to reach the skies, Yet doom his brother to expire,
Whose soul a different hope supplies, Or doctrines less severe inspire 2
Shall these, by creeds they can't expound, Prepare a fancied bliss or woe 2
Shall reptiles, groveling on the ground, Their great Creator's purpose know 7
Shall those who live for self alone,
Shall they by Faith for guilt atone,
Father no prophet's laws I seek, -
I own myself corrupt and weak,
Thou who canst guide the wandering star
Who calm'st the elemental war,
early the struggle between natural piety and doubt began in his mind.” In reading the celebrated critique of the Edinburgh lleview on the “Hours of Idleness,” the fact that the volume did not include this poem, ought to be kept in mind." * [The poet appears to have had in his mind one of Mr. Southey's juvenile pieces, beginning, — “Go, thou, unto the house of prayer, I to the woodlands will repair." See also Childe Harold, canto iii. st. 91. – “Not vainly did the early Persian make His altar the high places and the peak Of earth-o'ergazing mountains, and thus take A fit and unwall'd temple, there to seek The Spirit, in whose honour shrines are weak Uprear'd of human hards,” &c.)
Thou, who in wisdom placed me here, Where smiling Youth delights to dwell,
Thus, when the whirlwind's rage is past,
We heed no more the wintry blast,
[First published, 1830.]
TO EDWARD NOEL LONG, ESQ.. 1
Nil ego contulerim jocundo sanus amico. – HoR. Full often has my infant Muse
Attuned to love her languid lyre;
DEAR LoNG, in this sequester'd scene, But now without a theme to choose,
's. young gentleman, who was with Lord Byron both father,” says Lord Byron, “wrote to me to write his son's at Harrow and Cambridge, afterwards, entered the Guards, epitaph. I promised—but I had not the heart to complete it. and served with distinction in the expedition to Copenhagen. He was such a good, amiable being as rarely remains long He was drowned early in 1809, when on his way to join the in this world , with talent and accounplishments, too, to make army in the Peninsula; the transport in which he sailed being him the more regretted.” Byron Diary, 1821.]
run soul of in the night by another of the convoy. “Long's
For why should I the path go o'er,
If thou wert mine, had all been hush'd : –
With passion's hectic ne'er had flush'd,
Yes, once the rural scene was sweet,
And once my breast abhorr'd deceit, —
But now I seek for other joys:
In thoughtless throngs and empty noise,
Yet, even in these a thought will steal, In spite of every vain endeavour, –
And fiends might pity what I feel, To know that thou art lost for ever.
I WOULD I WERE A C.A.RELESS CHILD.
I would l were a careless child,
Fortune take back these cultured lands,
Few are my years, and yet 1 feel
I loved —but those I loved are gone;
ardour was all on my side. I was serious; she was volatile : she liked me as a younger brother, and treated and laughed at me as a boy; she, however, gave me her picture, and that was something to make verses upon. Had I married her, perhaps the whole tenour of my life would have been different."]
* Sassenach, or Saxon, a Gaelic word, signifying either Lowland or English.
* [The “imagination all compact,” which the greatest poet who ever lived has assigned as the distinguishing badge of his brethren, is in every case a dangerous gift. It exaggerates, indeed, our expectations, and can often bid its possesso: hope, where hope is lost to reason: but the delusive pleasure arisin from these visions of imagination resembles that of a child,
How dull to hear the voice of those
Fain would I fly the haunts of men —
WHEN I ROVED A YOUNG HIGH LANDER.
WHEN I roved a young Highlander o'er the dark
whose notice is attracted by a fragment of glass to which a sun-beam has given momentary spiendour. He hastens to the spot with breathless impatience, and finds the object of his curiosity and expectation is equally vulgar and worthless. Such is the man of quick and exalted powers of imagination. II is fancy over-estimates the object of his wishes, and pleasure, fame, distinction, are alternately pursued, attained, and despised when in his power. Like the enchanted fruit in the palace of a sorcerer, the objects of his admiration lose their attraction and value as soon as they are grasped by the adventurer's hand, and all that remains is regret for the time lost in the chase, and astonishment at the hallucination under which it was undertaken. The disproportion between hope and possession, which is felt by all men, is thus doubled to those whom nature has endowed with the power of gilding a distant prospect by the rays of imagination. These reflections, though trite and obvious, are in a manner forced from us by the oetry of Lord Byron, — by the sentinents of weariness of ise and enmity with the world which they so frequently exress — and by the singular analogy which such sentiments old with well-known incidents of his life.—SiR W. Scott.] 1 “And I said, Gh that I had win is like a dove : for then would I fly away, and be at rest.”— Psalm lv. 6. This verse also constitutes a part of the most beautiful anthem in our language. 2 Morven, a lofty mountain in Aberdeenshire. “Gormal of snow,” is an expression frequently to be found in Ossian. * This will not appear extraordinary to those who have been accustomed to the mountains. It is by no means uncommon, on attaining the top of Ben-e-vis, Ben-y-bourd, &c. to perceive, between the summit and the valley, clouds pouring down rain, and occasionally accompanied by lightning, while the spectator literally looks down upon the storm, perfectly secure from its effects. * [In Lord Byron's Diary for 1813, he says. – “I have been thinking lately a good deas of Mary 15uir. How very odd that I should have been so utterly, devotedly fond of that girl, at
Yet it could not be love, for I knew not the name, –
But still I perceive an emotion the same
One image alone on my bosom impress'd,
And few were my wants, for my wishes were bless'd ;
I arose with the dawn; with my dog as my guide,
I left my bleak home, and my visions are gone;
When I see some dark hill point its crest to the sky,
Yet the day may arrive when the mountains once more Shall rise to my sight in their mantles of snow: 7
an age when I could neither feel Pasion. nor know the meaning of the word. And the effect : y mother used always to rally me about this childish amour; and, at last, many years after, when I was sixteen, she told me one day : " Oh, Byron, I have had a letter from Edinburgh, from Miss Abercromby, and your old sweetheart, Mary Duff, is married to a Mr. Cockburn.' [Robert Cockburn, Esq. of Edinburgh.] And what was my answer 2 I really cannot explain or account for my feelings at that moment ; but they nearly threw me into convulsions — to the horror of my mother, and the astonishment of every body. And it is a phenomenon in my existence (for I was not eight years old), which has puzzled, and will puzzle me to the latest hour of it.”— Again, in January, 1815, a few days after his marriage, in a letter to his friend tain Hay, the poet thus speaks of his childish attachment: –“ Pray tell me more — or as much as you like, of your cousin Mary. I believe I told you our story some years ago. I was twentyseven a few days ago, and I have never seen her since we were children, and young children too; but I never forget her, nor ever can. You will oblige me with o: her with my best respects, and all good wishes. It may seem ridiculous — but it is at any rate, I hope, not offensive to her nor hers — in me to pretend to recollect anything about her, at so early a period of both our lives, almost, if not quite, in our nurseries; — but it was a pleasant dream, which she must pardon me for remembering. Is she pretty still 2 I have the most perfect idea of her person, as a child; but Time, I suppose, has played the devil with us both.”]
* “Breasting the lofty surge.” — So Akspeare. The Dee is a beautiful river, which rises near Mar Lodge, and falls into the sea at New Aberdeen.
* Colbleen is a mountain near the verge of the Highlands, not far from the ruins of Dee Castle.
7 [In the spring of 1807, on recovering from a severe illness, Lord Byron had projected a visit to Scotland. The pian was not put into execution ; but he thus adverts to it, in a letter dated in August, and addressed to his fair correspondeut of
southwell—" On Sunday I set off for the Highlands. A friend of mine accompanies me in my carriage to Edinburgh. There we shall leave it, and proceed in a tandem through the western parts to Inverary, where we shall purchase shelties, to enable us to view places inaccessible to vehicular conveyances. On the coast we shall hire a vessel, and visit the most remarkable of the Hebrides, and, if we have time and favourable weather, mean to sail as far as Iceland, only three hundred miles from the northern extremity of Caledonia, to peep at iiccia. I mean to collect all the Erse traditions, poeins, &c.
TO THE EARL OF CLARE.
“Tu semper amoris Sis memor, et cari comitis ne abscedat imago.” VAL. Flac.
FRiend of my youth when young we roved,
The recollection seems alone
My pensive memory lingers o'er
As when one parent spring supplies
Our vital streams of weal or woe,
Our souls, my friend which once supplied
'Tis mine to waste on love my time,
Poor Little ! sweet, melodious bard