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« ALL IS VANITY, SAITH THE PREACHER.”
Fame, wisdom, love, and power were mine,
And health and youth possess'd me;
And lovely forms caress'd me;
And felt my soul grow tender ;
Was mine of regal splendour.
VISION OF BELSHAZZAR. The King was on his throne,
The Satraps throng'd the hall; A thousand bright lamps shone
O'er that high festival. A thousand cups of gold,
In Judah deem'd divineJehovah's vessels hold
The godless Heathen's wine.
In that same hour and hall,
The fingers of a hand Came forth against the wall,
And wrote as if on sand : The fingers of a man ;
A solitary hand Along the letters ran,
And traced them like a wand.
I strive to number o'er what days
Remembrance can discover, Which all that life or earth displays
Would lure me to live over.
Of pleasure unembitter'd;
That galld not while it glitter'd.
And spells, is won from harming; But that which coils around the heart,
Oh! who hath power of charming ? It will not list to wisdom's lore,
Nor music's voice can lure it; But there it stings for evermore
The soul that must endure it.
The monarch saw, and shook,
And bade no more rejoicc; All bloodless wax'd his look,
And tremulous his voice. • Let the men of lore appear,
The wisest of the earth, And expound the words of fear,
Which mar our royal mirth."
WERE MY BOSOM AS FALSE AS THOU
DEEM'ST IT TO BE. Were my bosom as false as thou deem'st it to be, I need not have wander'd from far Galilee ; It was but abjuring my creed to efface The curse which, thou say'st, is the crime of my race: If the bad never triumph, then God is with thee! If the slave only sin, thou art spotless and free! If the Exile on earth is an Outcast on high, Live on in thy faith, but in mine I will die. I have lost for that faith more than thou canst bestow, As the God who permits thee to prosper doth know; In his hand is my heart and my hope — and in thine The land and the life which for him I resign.
And now on that mountain I stood on that day,
HEROD'S LAMENT FOR MARIAMNE. I Oh, Mariamne! now for thee
The heart for which thou bled'st is bleeding ; Revenge is lost in agony,
And wild remorse to rage succeeding. Oh, Marianne ! where art thou ?
Thou canst not hear my bitter pleading. Ah! couldst thou — thou wouldst pardon now,
Though Heaven were to my prayer unhecding. And is she dead ? — and did they dare
Obey my frenzy's jealous raving?
The sword that smote her 's o'er me waving. But thou art cold, my murder'd love !
And this dark heart is vainly craving For her who soars alone above,
And leaves my soul unworthy saving. She's gone, who shared my diadem ;
She sunk, with her my joys entombing ; I swept that flower from Judah's stem,
Whose leaves for me alone were blooming; And mine's the guilt, and mine the bell,
This bosom's desolation dooming; And I have earn'd those tortures well,
Which unconsumed are still consuming !
BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON WE SAT
DOWN AND WEPT.
Of Babel, and thought of the day
Made Salem's high places his prey ;
Were scatter'd all weeping away. While sadly we gazed on the river
Which rollid on in freedom below, They demanded the song ; but, oh never
That triumph the stranger shall know ! May this right hand be wither'd for ever,
Ere it string our high harp for the foe! On the willow that harp is suspended,
Oh Salem ! its sound should be tree ;
But left me that token of thee :
With the voice of the spoiler by me !
ON THE DAY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF
JERUSALEM BY TITUS. From the last hill that looks on thy once holy dome I bebeld thee, oh Sion ! when render'd to Rome : 'T was thy last sun went down, and the flames of thy fall Flash'd back on the last glance I gave to thy wall. I look'd for thy temple, I look'd for my home, And forgot for a moment my bondage to come ; I beheld but the death-fire that fed on thy fane, And the fast fetter'd hands that made vengeance in vain. On many an eve, the high spot whence I gazed llad reflected the last beam of day as it blazed ; While I stood on the height, and beheld the decline Of the rays from the mountain that shone on thy shrine.
THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB. The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fuld, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold ; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galllee. Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green, That host with their banners at sunset were seen : Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown, That host on the morrow lay wither'd and strown. For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass'd ; And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heav'd, and for ever grew
still ! And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, But through it there roll'd not the breath of his pride : And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turt, And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surt. And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail ; And the tents were all silent, the banners alone, The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown. And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail, And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal ; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord !
1 (Mariamne, the wife of Herod the Great, falling under the suspicion of infidelity, was put to death by his order. She was a woman of unrivalled beauty, and a haughty spirit : un. happy in being the object of passionate attachment, which bordered on frenzy, to a man who had inore or less concern in
the murder of her grandfather, father, brother, and uncle, and who had twice cominanded her death, in case of his own. Ever after, Herod was haunted by the image of the murdered Mariamne, until disorder of the mind brought on disorder of bouly, which led to temporary derangerr.ent. - Millar.)
“Alas! they have been frieniis in south;
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
Yet, oh yet, thyseif deceive not;
Love may sink by slow decay, But by sudden wrench, believe not
Hearts can thus be torn away: Still tuine own its life retaineth
Still must mine, though bleeding, bcat; Anů the undying thought which paineth
Is — that we no more may meet. These are words of deeper sorrow
Than the wail above the dead; Both shall live, but every morrow
Wake us from a widow'd bed.
Fare thee well! and if for ever,
Still for ever, fare thee well : Even though unforgiving, never
'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel. Would that breast were bared before thee
Where thy head so oft bath lain, While that placid sleep came o'er thee
Which thou ne'er canst know again : Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
Every inmost thought could show ! Then thou wouldst at last discover
'T was not well to spurn it so. Though the world for this commend thee
Though it smile upon the blow, Even its praises must utfend thee,
Founded on another's woe :
Could no other arm be found,
To inflict a cureless wound ?
And when thou would solace gather,
When our child's first accents flow, Wilt thou teach her to say “ Father !"
Though his care she must forego ? When her little hands shall press thee,
When her lip to thine is pressid, Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee,
Think of him thy love had bless'd ! Should her lineaments resemble
Those thou never more may'st see,
With a pulse yet true to me.
All my madness none can know;
Wither, yet with thee they go. Every feeling hath been shaken;
Pride, which not a world could bow, Bows to thee — by thee forsaken,
Even my soul forsakes me now:
' (The Hebrew Melodies, though obviously inferior to Lord Byron's other works, display a skill in versification and a mastery in diction, which would have raised an interior artist to the very suminit of distinction. - JEFFREY.]
? [It was about the middle of April that his two celebrated copies of verses, " Fare thee well," and "A Sketch," made their appearance in the newspapers; and while the latter poem was generally, and, it must be owned, justly condemned, as a sort of literary assault on an obscure female, whose situation ought to have placed her as much beneath his satire, as the undignified mode of his attack certainly raised her above it, with regard to the other poem, opinions were a good deal more divided. To many it appeared a strain of true conjugal tenderness, - a kind of appeal which no woman with a heart could resist; while, by others, on the contrary, it was con. sidered to be a mere showy effusion of sentiment, as ditficult for real feeling to have produced as it was eas; for lancy and art, and altogether unworthy of the deep interests involved in
the subject. To this latter opinion I confess my own to have, at first, strongly inclined ; and suspicious as I could not help thinking the sentiment that could, at such a moment, indulge in such verses, the taste that prompted or sanctioned their publication appeared to me even still more questionable. On reading, however, his own account of all the circumstances in the Memoranda, I found that on both points I had, in common with a large portion of the public, done him injustice. He there described, and in a manner whose sincerity there was no doubtinz, the swell of tender recollections under the intluence of which, as he sat one night musing in his study, these stanzas were produceu, – the tears, as he said, falling fast over the paper as he wrote them. Neither did it appear, from that account, to have been from any wish or intention of his own, but through the injudicious zeal of a friend whom he had suffered to take a copy, that the verses met the public eye. - MUORE. The appearance of the MS. confirms this account of the circumstances under which it was written. IC is blotted all over with the marks of tears.]
But 't is done all words are idle -
Have given her power too deeply to instil
The angry essence of her deadly will;
If like a snake she steal within your walls,
Till the black slime betray her as she crawls ;
If like a viper to the heart she wind,
And leave the venom there she did not find;
What marvel that this hag of hatred works
Eternal evil latent as she lurks,
To make a Pandemoniumn where she dwells,
And reign the Hecate of domestic hells ?
With all the kind mendacity of hints, (smiles -
While mingling truth with falsehood - sncers with
A plain blunt show of briefly-spoken seeming,
To hide her bloodless heart's soul-harden'd scheming;
And, without feeling, mock at all who feel : Bors in the garret, in the kitchen bred,
With a vile mask the Gorgon would disown; Promoted thence to deck her mistress' head;
A cheek of parchment and an eye of stone. Next - for some gracious service unexpress'd,
Mark, how the channels of her yellow blood And from its wages only to be guess'd
Ooze to her skin, and stagnate there to mud, Raised from the toilet to the table,
Cased like the centipede in saffron mail, Her wondering betters wait behind her chair.
Or darker greenness of the scorpion's scaleWith eye unmoved, and forehead unabash'd,
(For drawn from reptiles only may we trace She dines from off the plate she lately wash'd.
Congenial colours in that soul or face) Quick with the tale, and ready with thc lie
Look on her features ! and behold her mind
As in a mirror of itself defined :
There is no trait which might not be enlarged :
Yet true to “ Nature's journeymen," who made That she herself, by teaching, learn'd to spell.
This monster when their mistress left off tradeAn adept next in penmanship she grows,
This female dog-star of her little sky,
Where all beneath her influence droop or die.
Oh! wretch without a tear — without a thought, And panted for the truth it could not hear,
Save joy above the ruin thou hast wrought With longing breast and undeluded ear.
The time shall come, nor long remote, when thou Foil'd was perversion by that youthful mind,
Sbalt feel far more than thou inflictest now; Which Flattery fool'd not Baseness could not blind,
Feel for thy vile self-loving self in vain, Deceit infect not near Contagion soil
And turn thee howling in unpitied pain. Indulgence weaken - nor Example spoil
May the strong curse of crush'd affections light Nor master'd Science tempt her to look down
Back on thy bosom with reflected blight! On humbler talents with a pitying frown
And make thee in thy leprosy of mind Nor Genius swell — nor Beauty render vain
As loathsome to thyself as to mankind ! Nor Envy ruffle to retaliate pain
Till all thy self-thoughts curdle into hate, Nor Fortune change. - Pride raise -- nor Passion bow,
Black — as thy will for others would create : Nor Virtue teach austerity - till now.
Till thy hard heart be calcined into dust, Serenely purest of her sex that live,
And thy soul welter in its hideous crust. But wanting one sweet weakness — to forgive,
Oh, may thy grave be sleepless as the bed,Too shock'd at faults her soul can never know,
The widow'd couch of tire, that thou hast spread ! She deems that all could be like her below:
Then, when thou fain wouldst weary Heaven with Fog to all vice, yet hardly Virtue's friend,
prayer, For Virtue pardons those she would amend.
Look on thine earthly victims — and despair !
Down to the dust!-and, as thon rott'st away, But to the theme :- now laid aside too long,
Even worms shall perish on thy poisonous clay. The baleful burthen of this honest song
But for the love I bore, and still must bear, Though all her former functions are no more,
To her thy malice from all ties would tear — She rules the circle which she served before.
Thy name - - thy human name to every eye If mother3 — none know why - before her quake;
The climax of all scorn should hang on high, If (laughters dread her for the mothers' sake;
Exalted o'er thy less abhorr'd compeers If early habits — those false links, which bind
And festering in the infamy of years. At times the loitiest to the meanest mind
March 29. 1816. (" I send you my last night's dream, and request to have use' weltering in the wind,' weltering on a gibbet?' I hare filtv copies struck off, for private distribution. I wish Mr. no dictionary, so look. In the mean time, I have put 'fesGidord to look at them. They are from life." – Lord Byrontering ;? which, perhaps, in any case is the best word of the to Jr. Murray, March 30. 1816.)
two. Shakspeare has it often, and I do not think it too strong
for the figure in this thing. Quick! quick I quick I quick! 2 [ In first draught "weltering."_" I doubt about 'til.
- Lord Byron to Mr. Murray, April 2.) tering.' We say weltering in blood;' but do not they also
I h 3
STANZAS TO ACGCSTA. 1 W'Hey all around grew drcar and dark,
And reason half withheld her ray And hope but shed a dying spark
Which more misled my lonely way; In that deep midnight of the mind,
And that internal strife of heart, When dreading to be deem'd tou kind,
The weak despair - the cold lepart; When fortune changed - and love fled far,
And hatred's shatts flew thick and fast, Thou wert the solitary star
Which rose, and set not to the last. Oh! blest be thine unbroken light !
That watch'd me as a seraph's eye, And stood between me and the night,
For ever shining sweetly nigh And when the cloud upon us came,
Which strove to blacken o'er thy ray -Then purer spread its gentle flame,
And dash'd the darkness all away. Still may thy spirit dwell on mine,
And teach it what to brave or brookThere's more in one soft word of thine
Than in the world's defied rebuke. Thou stood'st, as stands a lovely tree,
That still unbroke, though gently bent, Still waves with fond fidelity
Its boughs above a monument. The words might rend — the skies might pour,
But there thou wert - and still wouldst be Devoted in the stormiest brour
To shed thy weeping leaves o'er me. But thou and thine shall know no blight,
Whatever fate on me may fall; For heaven in sunshine will requite
The kind —and thee the most of all. Then let the ties of baffled love
Be broken- thine will never break; Thy heart can feel — but will not move;
Thy soul, though soft, will never shake. And these, when all was lost beside,
Were found and still are fix'd in thee; And bearing still a breast so tried,
Earth is no desert-ev'n to me.
Thy soft heart refused to discover
The faults which so many could find; Though thy soul with my grief was acquainted,
It shrunk not to share it with me,
It never bath found but in thee.
The last smile which answers to mine,
Because it reminds me of thine;
As the breasts I believed in with me,
It is that they bear me from thee.
And its fragments are sunk in the wave,
To pain — it shall not be its slave. There is many a pang to pursue me :
They may crush, but they shall not contemn They may torture, but shall not subdue mc
'Tis of thee that I think - not of them. * Though human, thou didst not deceive me,
Though woman, chou didst not forsake, Though loved, thou forborest to grieve me,
Though slander'd, thou never couldst sbake, Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me,
Though parted, it was not to fly, Though watchful, 't was not to defame me,
Nor, mute, that the world might belie. 5 Yet I blame not the world, nor despise it,
Nor the war of the many with one If my soul was not fitted to prize it,
"T was folly not sooner to shun: And if dearly that error hath cost me,
And more than I once could foresee, I have found that, whatever it lost me,
It could not deprive me of thee.
Thus much I at least may recall,
Deserved to be dearest of all :
In the wide waste there still is a tree,
July 24. 1816
STANZAS TO AUGUSTA. 9 Thougn the day of my destiny 's over,
And the star of my fate hath declined, 3.
EPISTLE TO AUGUSTA. 6 Ms sister ! my sweet sister ! if a name Dearer and purer were, it should be thine. Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim No tears, but tenderness to answer mine :
! (The Poet's sister, the Honourable Mrs. Leigh. – These stanzas - the parting tribute to her, whose unshaken tenderness had been the author's sole consolation during the crisis of domestic misery - were, we believe, the last rerses written by Lord Byron in England. In a note to Mr. Rogers, dated April 16th, he says, -"My sister is now with me, and leaves town to-morrow: we shall not meet again for some time at all events, - if ever! and, under these circunstances, I trust to stand excused to you and Mr. Sheridan, for being unable to wait upon him this evening." On the 20th, the Poet took a last leave of his native country.]
? [These beautiful verses, so expressive of the writer's wounded feelings at the moment, were written in July, at the Campagne Diolati, near Genera, and transmitted to England for publication, with some other pieces. "Be careiul," he
says, " in printing the stanzas beginning.' Though the day of my destiny's,'&c., which I think well of as a composition.'') 3 [“ Though the days of my glory are over,
And the sun of my fame hath declined." – MS.] * (" There is many a pang to pursue me,
And many a peril to stein:
They may crush, but they shall not contemn."-MS.) (“Though watchful, 't was but to reclaim me,
Nor, silent, to sanction a lie.” – MS.) 6 (These stanzas — " Than which," says the Quarterly Review, for January, 1831, " there is, perhaps, nothing more mournfully and desolately beautiful in the whole range of Lord Byron's poetry" — were also written at Diodati ; and