Favourite Stanzas from Byron’s Child Harold’s Pilgrimage

Poor child of doubt and death, whose hope is built on reeds.

 

There, thou! –whose love and life together fled,

Have left me here to love and live in vain—

Twined with my heart, and can I deem thee dead,

When busy memory flashes on my brain?

Well—I will dream that we may meet again,

And woo the vision to my vacant breast:

If aught of you Remembrance then remain,

Be as it may futurity’s behest,

For me were bliss enough to know they spirit blest.

 

Oh! Ever loving, lovely, and beloved!

How selfish sorrow ponders on the past,

And clings to thoughts now better far removed!

But time shall tear thy shadow from me last.

All thou could hads’t of mine, stern death, thou has:

The parent, friend, and now more than friend;

Ne’er yet for one thine arrows flew so fast,

And grief with grief continuing still to blend,

Hath snatched the little joy that life had yet to lend.

 

Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends;

Where rolled the ocean, thereon was his home;

Where a blue sky, and glowing clime, extends.

He had the passion and the power to roam;

The desert, forest, cavern, breaker’s foam,

Were unto him companionship; they spake

A mutual language, clearer than the tome

Of his land’s tongue, which he would oft forsake

For nature’s pages glassed by sunbeams on the lake.

 

They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn:

The tree will wither long before it fall:

The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;

The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall

In massy hoarseness; the ruined wall

Stands where its wind-worn battlements are gone;

The bars survive the captive they enthral;

The day drags through though storms keep out the sun;

And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:

 

E’en as a broken mirror, which the glass

In every fragment multiplies; and makes

A thousand images of one that was,

The same, and still the more, the more it breaks

And thus the heart will do which not forsakes

Living in shattered guise, and still, and cold

And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,

Yet withers on till all is old;

Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.

 

Ye stars! Which are the poetry of heaven,

If in your bright leaves we would read the fate

Of men and empires,–‘tis to be forgiven,

That in our aspirations to be great,

Our destinies o’erleap their mortal state,

And claim a kindred with you; for ye are

A beauty and a mystery, and create

In us such love and reverence from afar

That fortune, fame, power, life have named themselves a star/

 

All heaven and earth are still—though not in sleep,

But breathless, as we grow when feeling most;

And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep:

All heaven and earth are still: from the high host

Of stars, to the lulled lake and mountain-coast,

All is centred in a life intense,

Where not a beam, nor air, nore leaf is lost,

But hath a part of being, and a sense

Of that which is all Creator and defence.

 

Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his way between

Heights which appear as lovers who have parted

In hate, whose mining depths so intervene

That they can meet no more, though broken-hearted;

Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted,

Love was the very root of the fond rage

Which blighted their life’s bloom, and then departed,

Itself expired, but leaving them an age

Of years all winters—war within themselves to rage.

 

Horribly beautiful but on the verge,

From side to side, beneath the glittering morn,

An iris sits, amidst the infernal surge,

Like hope upon a deathbed, and, unworn

Its steady dyes, while all around is torn

By the distracted waters, bears serene

Its brilliant hues with all their beams unshorn:

Resembling, mid the torture of the scene,

Love watching Madness with unalterable mien.

 

O Rome! my country! City of the soul!

The orphans of the heart must turn to thee,

Lone mother of dead empires! and control

In their shut breasts their petty misery

What are our woes and sufferances? Come and see

The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way

O’er steps of broken thrones and temples, Ye!

Whose agonies and evils of a day—

A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.

 

The Goth, the Christian, Time, War, Flood, and Fire,

Have dwelt upon the seven-hilled city’s pride:

She saw her glories start by star expire,

And up the steep the barbarian monarchs ride.

Where the car climbed the Capitol; far and wide

Temple and tower went down, nor left a site;-

Chaos of ruins! Who shall trace the void,

O’er the dim fragments cast a lunar light,

And say, ‘Here was, or is’ where all is doubly night.

 

The let the winds howl on! Their harmony

Shall henceforth be my music, and the night

The sound shall temper with the owlet’s cry,

As I now hear them, in the fading light

Dim o’er the bird of darkness’ native site.

Answer each other on the Palantine,

With their large yes, all glistening grey and bright.

And sailing pinions, — Upon such a shrine

What are our petty griefs? – let me not number mine.

 

 

 

 

O Time! The beautifier of the dead.

Adorner of the ruin, comforter

And only healer when the heart hath bled –

Time! The corrector where our judgements err,

The test of truth, love, – sole philosopher,

For all beside are sophist, from thy thrift,

Which never loses though it doth defer –

Time, the avenger! Unto thee I lift

My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a gift:

 

Amidst this wreck, where thou has made a shrine

And temple more divinely desolate.

Among thy mightier offerings here are mine,

Ruin of years—though few, yet full of fate:

If thou hast ever seen me too elate,

Hear me not; but if calmly I have borne

Good, and reserved my pride against the hate

Which shall not whelm me, let me have worn

This iron in my soul in vain—shall they not mourn?

 

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society where none intrudes,

By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:

I love not Man the less, but Nature more,

From these our interviews, in which I steal

From all I may be, or have been before,

To mingle with the Universe, and feel

What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

 

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty’s form

Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,

Calm or convulsed—in breeze, or gale, or storm.

Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime

Dark-heaving; – boundless, endless, and sublime—

The image of Eternity; even from out they slime

The monsters of the deep are made; each zone

Obeys thee: thou goes forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

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