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And sometimes with the wisest and the best,
Oh ! hard it is that fondness to sustain, Till even the scaffold 1 echoes with their jest ! And struggle not to feel averse in vain; Yet not the joy to which it seems akin
But harder still the heart's recoil to bear, It may deceive all hearts, save that within.
And hide from one – perhaps another there. Whate'er it was that flash'd on Conrad, now
He takes the hand I give not — nor withhold A laughing wildness half unbent his brow:
Its pulse nor check'd — nor quicken'd- calmly cold : And these his accents had a sound of mirth,
And when resign'd, it drops a lifeless weight As if the last he could enjoy on earth;
From one I never loved enough to hate.
Yes – had I ever proved that passion's zeal,
The change to hatred were at least to feel : “ Corsair! thy doom is named — but I have power But still — he goes unmourn'd— returns unsoughtTo soothe the Pacha in his weaker hour.
And oft when present — absent from my thought. Thee would I spare - nay more-would save thee now, Or when reflection comes — and come it must But this—time — hope—nor even thy strength allow; I fear that henceforth 't will but bring disgust; But all I can, I will: at least, delay
I am his slave — but, in despite of pride, The sentence that remits thee scarce a day.
'T were worse than bondage to become his bride. More now were ruin - even thyself were loth Oh! that this dotage of his breast would cease ! The vain attempt should bring but doom to both." Or seek another and give mine release,
But yesterday — I could have said, to peace !
Remember — captive! 't is to break thy chain;
Who share such love as I can never know.
Farewell — morn breaks — and I must now away:
And noiseless as a lovely dream is gone.
And was she here? and is he now alone ? Wrung from the coward crouching of despair;
What gem hath dropp'd and sparkles o'er his chain ? It is enough - I breathe — and I can bear.
The tear most sacred, shed for others' pain,
That starts at once — bright — pure — from Pity's
Already polish'd by the hand divine !
Oh! too convincing — dangerously dear -
That weapon of her weakness she can wield,
To save, subdue — at once her spear and shield: “ Thou lov'st another then ? - but what to me Avoid it - Virtue ebbs and Wisdom erts, Is this — 't is nothing — nothing e'er can be :
Too fondly gazing on that grief of hers ! But yet — thou lov’st — and — Oh! I envy those
What lost a world, and bade a hero fly? Whose hearts on hearts as faithful can repose,
The timid tear in Cleopatra's eye. Who never feel the void — the wandering thought Yet be the soft triumvir's fault forgiven ; That sighs o'er visions — such as mine hath wrought.” By this — how many lose not earth – Lut heaven!
Consign their souls to man's eternal foe, “ Lady — methought thy love was his, for whom And seal their own to spare some wanton's woe. This arm redeem'd thee from a fiery tomb."
What shall he be ere night ? perchance a thing,
By his closed eye unheeded and unfelt; To share his splendour, and seem very blest !
While sets that sun, and dews of evening melt, Oft must my soul the question undergo,
Chill — wet — and misty round each stiffen'd limb, Of — Dost thou love ?' and burn to answer, No!' Refreshing earth – reviving all but him !
1 In Sir Thomas More, for instance, on the scaffold, and a fashion to leare some "mot " as a legacy; and the quantity Anne Boleyn, in the Tower, when, grasping her neck, she of facetious last words spoken during that period would form remarked, that it " was too slender to trouble the headsman
a melancholy jest book of a considerable size. much." During one part of the French Revolution, it became
QANTO THE THIRD,
And, dun and sombre 'mid the holy calm,
"Come vedi - ancor non m'abbandona." _ DANTE.
I. Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,' Along Morea's hills the setting sun; Not, as in northern climes, obscurely bright, But one unclouded blaze of living Ught ! O'er the hush'd deep the yellow beam he throws, Gilds the green wave, that trembles as it glows. On old Ægina's rock, and Idra's isle, The god of gladness sheds his parting smile; O'er his own regions lingering, loves to shine, Though there his altars are no more divine. Descending fast the mountain shadows kiss Thy glorious gulf, unconquer'd Salamis ! Their azure arches through the long expanse More deeply purpled meet his mellowing glance, And tenderest tints, along their summits driven, Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven; Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep, Behind his Delphian cliff he sinks to sleep.
Not now my theme — why turn my thoughts to thee ?
On such an eve, his palest beam he cast,
III. The Sun hath sunk — and, darker than the night, Sinks with its beam upon the beacon height Medora's heart — the third day's come and gone With it he comes not sends not faithless one ! The wind was fair though light; and storms were Last eve Anselmo's bark return'd, and yet (none. His only tidings that they had not met ! Though wild, as now, far different were the tale Had Conrad waited for that single sail. The night-breeze freshens she that day had pass'd In watching all that Hope proclaim'd a mast; Sadly she sate - on high - Impatience bore At last her footsteps to the midnight shore, And there she wander'd, heedless of the spray That dash'd her garinents oft, and warn'd away : She saw not — felt not this - nor dared depart, Nor deem'd it cold - her chill was at her heart; Till grew such certainty from that suspense His very sight had shock'd from life or sense ! It came at last - a sad and sbatter'd boat, Whose inmates first beheld whom first they sought; Some bleeding-all most wretched - these the few Scarce knew they how escaped — this all they knew. In silence, darkling, each appear'd to wait His fellow's mournful guess at Conrad's fate : Something they would have said ; but seem'd to fear To trust their accents to Medora's ear. She saw at once, yet sunk not – trembled not Beneath that grief, that loneliness of lot,
But lo! from high Hymettus to the plain,
• The opening lines, as far as section ii., have, perhaps, little business here, and were annexed to an unpublished (though printed) poem; but they were written on the spot, in the Spring of 1811, and -- I scarce know why - the reader must excuse their appearance here - if he can. (See post, “ Curse of Minerva")
• Socrates drank the hemlock a short time before sunset the hour of execution), not withstanding the entreaties of his disciples to wait till the sun went down.
3 The twilight in Greece is much shorter than in our own country: the days in winter are longer, but in summer of sborter duration.
• 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.
scor the brilliant skies and variegated landscapes of Greece every onc has formed to himself a general notion, from having contemplated them through the hazy atmosphere of some prose narration ; but, in Lord Byron's poetry, every image is distinct and glowing, as if it were illuminated by its native sunshine ; and, in the figures which people the landscape, we behold cot only the general form and costume, but the countenance, and the attitude, and the play of features and of gesture accompanying, and indicating, the sudden impulses of momentary feelings. The magic of colouring by which this is effected is, perhaps, the most striking evidence of Lord Byron's talent. - GEORGE Ellis.]
Within that meek fair form, were feelings high, While baffled, weaken'd by this fatal fray -
Watch'd — follow'd - he were then an easier prey; While yet was Hope — they soften'd - Autter'd But once cut off - the remnant of his band wept
Embark their wealth, and seek a safer strand."
“ Gulnare ! - if for each drop of blood a gem “ With nothing left to love there's nougbt to
Were offer'd rich as Stamboul's diadem; dread."
If for each hair of his a massy mine 'Tis more than nature's; like the burning might
Of virgin ore should supplicating shine; Delirium gathers from the fever's height.
If all our Arab tales divulge or dream
Of wealth were here - that gold should not redeem ! “ Silent you stand — nor would I hear you tell
It had not now redeem'd a single hour; What — speak not breathe not for I know it
But that I know him fetter'd, in my power; Yet would I ask almost my lip denies (well
And, thirsting for revenge, I ponder still The - quick your answer — tell me where he lies.”
On pangs that longest rack, and latest kill.” “ Lady! we know not — scarce with life we fled; But here is one denies that he is dead:
" Nay, Seyd! - I seek not to restrain thy rage, He saw him bound; and bleeding - but alive." Too justly moved for mercy to assuage ;
My thoughts were only to secure for thee
His capture could but wait thy first command."
and senseless had the wave Perchance but snatch'd her from another grave;
“ His capture could ! — and shall I then resign
One day to him the wretch already mine? But that with hands though rude, yet weeping eyes,
Release my foe ! — at whose remonstrance ? — thine ! They yield such aid as Pity's haste supplies :
Fair suitor! — to thy virtuous gratitude, Dash o'er her deathlike cheek the ocean dew,
That thus repays this Giaour's relenting mood, Raise – fan sustain till life returns anew;
Which thee and thine alone of all could spare, Awake her handmaids, with the matrons leave
No doubt - regardless if the prize were fair, That fainting form o'er which they gaze and grieve;
My thanks and praise alike are due - now hear ! Then seek Anselmo's cavern, to report
I have a counsel for thy gentler ear : The tale too tedious — when the triumph short.
I do mistrust thee, woman ! and each word
Of thine stamps truth on all Suspicion heard.
Borne in his arms through fire from yon Serai In that wild council words wax'd warm and strange,
Say, wert thou lingering there with him to fly? With thoughts of ransom, rescue, and revenge ;
Thou need'st not answer — thy confession speaks, All, save repose or flight : still lingering there
Already reddening on thy guilty cheeks ; Breathed Conrad's spirit, and forbade despair ;
Then, lovely dame, bethink thee! and beware : Whate'er his fate – the breasts he form'd and led,
'Tis not his life alone may claim such care ! Will save him living, or appease him dead.
Another word and - nay — I need no more. Woe to his foes ! there yet survive a few,
Accursed was the moment when he bore Whose deeds are daring, as their hearts are true.
Thee from the flames, which better far — but-no
I then had mourn'd thee with a lover's woe -
Now 't is thy lord that warns — deceitful thing ! Within the Haram's secret chamber sate !
Know'st thou that I can clip thy wanton wing ? Stern Seyd, still pondering o'er his Captive's fate; In words alone I am not wont to chafe : His thoughts on love and hate alternate dwell,
Look to thyself - nor deem thy falsehood safe ! ” Now with Gulnare, and now in Conrad's cell; Here at his feet the lovely slave reclined Surveys his brow — would soothe his gloom of mind; He rose — and slowly, sternly thence withdrew, While many an anxious glance her large dark eye Rage in his eye and threats in his adieu : Sends in its idle search for sympathy,
Ah! little reck'd that chief of womanhood His only bends in seeming o'er his beads, ?
Which frowns ne'er quell'd, nor menaces subdued ; But inly views his victim as he bleeds.
And little deem'd he what thy heart, Gulnare !
When soft could feel, and when incensed could dare. " Pacha! the day is thine ; and on thy crest
His doubts appear'd to wrong - nor yet she knew Sits Triumph Conrad taken — fall’n the rest ! How deep the root from whence compassion grew His doom is fix'd - he dies : and well his fate
She was a slave — from such may captives claim Was earn'd — yet much too worthless for thy hate : A fellow-feeling, differing but in name; Methinks, a short release, for ransom told
Still half unconscious — heedless of his wrath, With all his treasure, not unwisely sold;
Again she ventured on the dangerous path, Report speaks largely of his pirate-hoard
Again his rage repellid — until arose Would that of this my Pacha were the lord !
That strife of thought, the source of woman's woes !
Ir The whole of this section was added in the course of printing.)
? The comboloio, or Mahometan rosary; the beads are ia number ninety-nine.
VI. Meanwhile-long anxious -weary-still-the same Rou'd day and night - his soul could never tame This fearful interval of doubt and dread, When every hour might dooin him worse than dead, When every step that echo'd by the gate Might entering lead where axe and stake await; When every voice that grated on his ear Might be the last that he could ever hear; Could terror tame- that spirit stern and high Had proved unwilling as unfit to die; *T was worn - perhaps decay'd — yet silent bore That conflict, deadlier far than all before: The heat of tight, the hurry of the gale, Leave scarce one thought inert enough to quail ; But bound and fix'd in fetter'd solitude, To pine, the prey of every changing mood; To gize on thine own heart; and meditate Irrevocable faults, and coming fate — Too late the last to shun -- the first to mend To count the hours that struggle to thine end, With not a friend to animate, and tell To other ears that death became thee well; Around thee foes to forge the ready lie, Aad blot life's latest scene with calumny; Before thee tortures, which the soul can dare, Yet doubts how well the shrinking flesh may bear; But dezply feels a single cry would shame, To valour's praise thy last and dearest claim; The life thou leav'st below, denied above By kind monopolists of heavenly love; And more than doubtful paradise — thy heaven Of earthly bope - thy loved one from thee riven. Such were the thoughts that outlaw must sustain, And govern pangs surpassing mortal pain : And those sustaind he - boots it well or ill ? Since not to sink beneath, is something still !
VII. The first day passid — he saw not her Gulnare The second third - and still she came not there; But what her words arouch'd, her charms had done, Or else he had not seen another sun. The fourth day roll'd along, and with the night Came storm and darkness in their mingling might: Oh! how he listend to the rushing deep, That ne'er till now so broke upon his sleep; And his wild spirit wilder wishes sent, Roused by the roar of his own element ! Oft bad he ridden on that winged wave, And loved its roughness for the speed it gave; And now its dashing echo'd on his ear, A long known voice - alas ! too vainly near! Loud sung the wind above; and, doubly loud, Shook o'er his turret cell the thunder-cloud; And flash'd the lightning by the latticed bar, To himn more genial than the midnight star: Close to the glimmering grate he dragg'd his chain, And hoped that peril might not prove in vain.
("By the way - I have a charge against you. As the great Mr. Dennis roared out on a similar occasion, ‘By God, iaal is my thunder !' - so do I exclaim, . This is my lightning! I allude to a speech of Ivan's, in the scene with Pe. trogna and the Empress, where the thought, and almost expression, are similar to Conrad's in the third canto of the *Corsair.' 1, however, do not say this to accuse you, but to except nsuels from auspicion ; as there is a priority of six months publication, on my part, between the appearance of that composition and of your tragedies." - Lord Byron to
He raised his iron hand to Heaven, and pray'd
“ Lady! I look to none -- my lips proclaim
" Why should I seek ? because — Oh! didst thou not
“ Ay - in my chains ! my steps will gently tread,
“ Misdoubting Corsair ! I have gain'd the guard,
Mr. Sotheby, Sept. 25. 1815. — The following are the lines in
" And have leant
And sparkled on these letters. Notwithstanding Lord Byron's precaution, the coincidence in question was cited against him, some years after, in a periodical journal.]
Well, since we met, hath sped my busy time,
But since the dagger suits thee less than brand,
- one moment all were o'er -
still had saved thee - but the Pacha spared.
« Gulnare Gulnare -I never felt till now
He had seen battle - he had brooded lone
« Rest! rest ! by sunrise must thy sinews shake,
heard the order— saw — I will not see-