« PreviousContinue »
By that lip I long to taste ;
LINES WRITTEN BENEATH A PICTURE, 5
Though now of Love and thee bereft,
Thine image and my tears are left.
But this I feel can ne'er be true :
Athens, January, 1811..
Oh how I wish that an embargo
TRANSLATION OF THE FAMOUS GREEK
The glorious hour 's gone forth,
In a river past our feet.
The Turkish tyrant's yoke,
And all her chains are broke.
Behold the coming strife !
Oh, start again to life!
Your sleep, oh, join with me!
Sons of Greeks, &c.
SUBSTITUTE FOR AN EPITAPH. Kind Reader ! take your choice to cry or laugh ; Here HAROLD lies - but where 's his Epitaph ? If such you seek, try Westminster, and view Ten thousand just as fit for him as you.
1 In the East (where ladies are not taught to write, lest they should scribble assignations) flowers, cinders, pebbles, &c. convey the sentiments of the parties by that universal deputy of Mercury - an old woman. A cinder says, “ I burn for thee;" a bunch of powers tied with hair, " Take me and fy;" but a pebble declares - what nothing else can.
3 [“ I am just come from an expedition through the Bosphorus to the Black Sea and the Cyanean Symplegades, up which last I scrambled with as great risk as ever the Argonauts escaped in their hoy. You remember the beginning of the nurse's dole in the Medea, of which I beg you to take the following translation, done on the summit." - Lord B. to Dr. Henry Drury, June 17. 1810.]
* ("I have just escaped from a physician and a fever. In spite of my teeth and tongue, the English consul, my Tartar, Albanian, dragoman, forced a physician upon me, and in three days brought me to the last gasp. In this state I made my epitaph."- Lord Byron to Mr. Hodgson, Oct. 3. 1810.]
5 [These lines are copied from a leaf of the original MS. of the second canto of " Childe Harold."]
6 (On the departure, in July, 1810, of his friend and fellowtraveller, Mr. Hobhouse, for England, Lord Byron fixed his head-quarters at Athens, where he had taken lodgings in a Franciscan convent ; making occasional excursions through Attica and the Morea, and employing himsell, in the interval of his tours, in collecting materials for those notices on the state of modern Greece which are appended to the second canto of “Childe Harcld." In this retreat also he wrote “ Hints from Horace," " The Curse of Minerva," and "Remarks on the Romaic, or Modern Greek Language." He thius writes to his mother:-" At present, I do not care to venture a winter's voyage, even if I were otherwise tired of travelling: but I am so convinced of the advantages of looking at mankind, instead of reading about them, and the bitter
effects of staying at home with all the narrow prejudices of an islander, that I think there should be a law amongst us to send our young men abroad, for a term, arnong the few allies our wars have left us. Here I see, and have conversed with, French, Italians, Germans, Danes, Greeks, Turks, Americans, &c. &c. &c.; and, without losing sight of my own, I can judge of the countries and manners or others. When I see the superiority of England (which, by the by, we are a good deal mistaken about in many things), I am pleased; and where I find her inferior, I am at least enlightened. Now, I might have stayed, smoked in your towns, or fogged in your country, a century, without being sure of this, and without acquiring any thing more useful or amusing at home. I keep no journal ; nor have I any intention of scribbling my travels. I have done with authorship; and if, in my last production, I have convinced the critics or the world I was something more than they took me for, I am satisfied ; nor will I bazard that reputation by a future effort. It is true I have some others in manuscript, but I leave them for those who come after me; and, if deemed worth publishing, they may serve to prolong my memory, when I myself shall cease to remember. I have a famous Bavarian artist taking some views of Athens, &c. &c. for me. This will be better than scribbling - a disease I hope myself cured of: I hope, on my return, to lead a quiet, recluse life ; but God knows, and does best for us all."]
7 The song Asús Todes, &c. was written by Riga, who perished in the attempt to revolutionise Greece. This translation is as literal as the author could make it in rerse. It is of the same measure as that of the original. (While at the Capuchin convent, Lord Byron devoted some hours daily to the study of the Romaic; and various proofs of his diligence will be found in the APPENDIX. See Remarks on the Romic or Modern Greek Language, with Specimens and Translations. ]
8 Constantinople. “Ezrál.cpos."
Now sad is the garden of roses,
Beloved but false Haidée ! There Flora all wither'd reposes,
And mourns o'er thine absence with me.
Sparta, Sparta, why in slumbers
Lethargic dost thou lie ? Awake, and join thy numbers
With Athens, old ally! Leonidas recalling,
That chief of ancient song, Who saved ye once from falling,
The terrible ! the strong !
In old Thermopylæ,
To keep his country free;
The battle, long he stood, And like a lion raging, Expired in seas of blood.
Sons of Greeks, &c. !
The kiss, dear maid ! thy lip has left
Shall never part from mine,
Untainted back to thine.
An equal love may see :
Can weep no change in me.
In gazing when alone;
Whose thoughts are all thine own.
Nor need I write -- to tell the tale
My pen were doubly weak : Oh! what can idle words avail,
Unless the heart could speak ?
By day or night, in weal or woe,
That heart, no longer frce,
EPITAPH FOR JOSEPH BLACKETT,
LATE POET AND SHOEMAKER. 4
TRANSLATION OF THE ROMAIC SONG,
« Μτενω μες τσ' τίριβόλι
"Ωραιότατη Χάηδή," &c. 2 I enter thy garden of roses, 3
Beloved and fair Haidée,
For surely I see her in thee.
Receive this fond truth from my tongue,
Yet trembles for what it has sung;
Adds fragrance and fruit to the tree,
Shines the soul of the young Haidée. But the loveliest garden grows hateful
When Love has abandon'd the bowers; Bring me hemlock since mine is ungrateful,
That herb is more fragrant than flowers.
Will deeply embitter the bowl ;
The draught shall be sweet to my soul.
My heart from these horrors to save : Will nought to my bosom restore thee?
Then open the gates of the grave.
Secure of his conquest before,
Hast pierced through my heart to its core.
By pangs which a smile would dispel ? [rish, Would the hope, which thou once bad'st me che.
For torture repay me too well ?
STRANGER! behold, interr'd together,
Malta, Day 16. 1811.
! (Riga was a Thessalian, and passed the first part of his youth among his native mountains, in teaching ancient Greek to his countrymen. On the first burst of the French revolution, he joined himself to some other enthusiasts, and with them perambulated Greece, rousing the bold, and encouraging the timid, by his minstrelsy. He afterwards went to Vienna to solicit aid for a rising, which he and his comrades had for years been endeavouring to accomplish; but he was given up by the Austrian government to the Turks, who vainly endea: voured by torture to force from him the names of the other conspirators.)
2 The song from which this is taken is a great favourite with the young girls of Athens of all classes. Their manner
of singing it is by verses in rotation, the whole number pre. sent joining in the chorus. I have heard it frequently at our " zócon," in the winter of 1810-11. The air is plaintive and pretty.
3 (National songs and popular works of amusement throw no small light on the manners of a people: they are materials which most travellers have within their reach, but which they almost always disdain to collect. Lord Byron has shown a better taste ; and it is to be hoped that his example will, in future, be generally followed. - George Ellis.) * (Some notice of this poctaster has been given, ante. He died in 1810, and his works have followed him.)
FAREWELL TO MALTA.
UNHAPPY Dives ! in an evil hour
1811. [First published, 1832.)
ADIEU, ye joys of La Valette !
ON MOORE'S LAST OPERATIC FARCE, OR
So Moore writes farce :
We knew before
That Little's Moore,
Sept. 14. 1811. (First published, 1830.']
Farewell to these, but not adieu,
And now I've got to Mrs. Fraser,
EPISTLE TO A FRIEND,
TO BE CHEERFUL, AND TO“ BANISH CARE."
'T were long to tell, and vain to hcar,
And now, O Malta ! since thou 'st got us,
May 26. 1811. (First published, 1832.]
1 ["On a leaf of one of Lord Byron's paper-books I find an Epigram, which, though not perhaps particularly good, I consider myself bound to insert." - MOVILE. The fiuce in question wils callod " M.P.; or, the Blue Stocking," and
came out at the Lyceum Theatre, on the 9th of Septem. ber.)
2 (Mr. Francis Ilodgson (not then the Reverend). See ante, p. 512.)
Oh! who like him had watch'd thee here ?
Or sadly mark'd thy glazing eye, In that dread hour ere death appear,
When silent sorrow fears to sigh,
And I have acted well my part,
-I'll whine no more,
Newstead Abbey, Oct. 11. 1811.3
(First published, 1830.]
Till all was past ! But when no more
'Twas thine to reck of human woe, Affection's heart-drops, gushing o'er,
Had flow'd as fast as now they flow. Shall they not flow, when many a day
In these, to me, deserted towers, Ere call'd but for a time away,
Affection's mingling tears were ours ? Ours too the glance none saw beside;
The smile none else might understand; The whisper'd thought of hearts allied,
The pressure of the thrilling hand ; The kiss, so guiltless and refined,
That Love each warmer wish for bore ; Those cyes proclaim'd so pure a mind,
Even passion blush'd to plead for more.
The tone, that taught me to rejoice,
When prone, unlike thee, to repine ; The song, celestial from thy voice,
But sweet to me from none but thine ; The pledge we wore — I wear it still,
But where is thine ? — Ah! where art thou ? Oft have I borne the weight of ill,
But never bent beneath till now !
WITHOUT a stone to mark the spot,
And say, what Truth might well have said, By all, save one, perchance forgot,
Ah! wherefore art thou lowly laid ? By many a shore and many a sea
Divided, yet beloved in vain ; The past, the future fled to thee,
To bid us meet--no- ne'er again ! Could this have been - a word, a look,
That softly said, “ We part in peace,” Had taught my bosom how to brook,
With fainter sighs, thy soul's release. And didst thou not, since Death for thee
Prepared a light and pangless dart, Once long for him thou ne'er shalt see,
Who held, and holds thee in his heart ?
Well hast thou left in life's best bloom
The cup of woe for me to drain. If rest alone be in the tomb,
I would not wish thee here again; But if in worlds more blest than this
Thy virtues seek a fitter sphere, Impart some portion of thy bliss,
To wean me from mine anguish here.
To bear, forgiving and forgiven :
October 11. 1811.4
! (These lines will show with what gloomy fidelity, even while under the pressure of recent sorrow, Lord Byron reverted to the disappointment of his early affection, as the chief source of all his sufferings and errors, present and to come. - Moone.)
? (The anticipations of his own future career in these concluding lines are of a nature, it must be owned, to awaken more of horror than of interest, were we not preparcu, by so many instances of his exaggeration in this respect, not to be startled at any lengths to which the spirit of self-libelling would carry him. It scemed as if, with the power of painting fierce and gloomy personages, he had also the ambition to be, himself, the dark sublime he drew,' and that, in his fondness for the delineation of heroic crime, he endeavoured to fancy, where he could not find in his own character, fit subjects for his pencil. - Moone.)
3 (Two days after, in another letter to Mr. Hodgson, Lord Byron says, “I am growing nervous (how you will laugh!)
but it is true, - - really, wretchedly, ridiculously, tineladically nervous. Your climate kills me; I can neither read, write, nor amuse myself, or any one else. My days are listless, and my nights restless: I have seldom any society, and, when I have, I run out of it. I don't know that I sha'n't end with insanity; for I find a want of method in arranging my thoughts that perplexes ine strangely."']
* (Mr. Moore considers “ Thyrza" as if she were a mere
creature of the Poet's brain. " It was," he says, “ about the time when he was thus bitterly feeling, and expressing, the blight which his heart had suffered from a real object of affection, that his poems on the death of an imaginary one were written ;- nor is it any wonder, when we consider the peculiar circumstances under which these beautiful effusions Howed from his fancy, that, of all his strains of pathos, they should be the most touching and most pure. They were, indeed, the essence, the abstract spirit, as it were, of many griefs ; -- a contuence of sad thoughts from many sources of sorrow, retined and warmed in their passage through his fancy, and forming thus one deep reservoir of mourniul feeling." It is a pity to disturb a sentiment thus beautifully expressed ; but Lord Byron, in a letter to Mr. Dallas, bcar. ing the exact date of these lines, viz. Oct. Ilth, 1811, writes as follows:-" I have been again shocked with a death, and have lost one very dear to me in happier times: but • I have almost forgot the taste of grief,' and supped full of horrors,' till I have become callous; nor have I a tear leit for an event which, five years ago, would have bowed my head to the earth.” In his reply to this letter, Mr. Dallas says, “I thank you for your confidential communication. llow truly do I wish that that being had lived, and lived yours ! What your obligations to her would have been in that case is inconceivable." Several years after the series of poems on Thyrza were written, Lord Byron, on being asked to whom they referred, by a person in whose tenderness he never ceased to
Though gay companions o'er the bowl
Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
The heart— the heart is lonely still !
It soothed to gaze upon the sky; For then I deem'd the heavenly light
Shone sweetly on thy pensive eye: And oft I thought at Cynthia's noon,
When sailing o'er the Ægean wave, “ Now Thyrza gazes on that moon -"
Alas, it gleam'd upon her grave ! When stretch'd on fever's sleepless bed,
And sickness shrunk my throbbing veins, “ 'Tis comfort still," I faintly said,
“ That Thyrza cannot know my pains: ” Like freedom to the time-worn slave,
A boon 't is idle then to give, Relenting Nature vainly gave
My life, when Thyrza ceased to live ! My Thyrza's pledge in better days,
When love and life alike were new! How different now thou meet'st my gaze !
How tinged by time with sorrow's hue ! The heart that gave itself with thee
Is silent - ah, were mine as still !
It feels, it sickens with the chill.
Though painful, welcome to my breast !
Or break the heart to which thou 'rt press'd ! Time tempers love, but not removes,
More hallow'd when its hope is filed : Oh! what are thousand living loves
To tbat which cannot quit the dead ?
The dreamless sleep that lulls the dead,
Wave gently o'er my dying bed !
To weep or wish the coming blow :
To feel, or feign, decorous woe.
With no officious mourners near :
Nor startle friendship with a tear.
Could nobly check its useless sighs,
In her who lives and him who dies.
Thy features still serene to see :
E'en Pain itself should smile on thee. 1 [" I wrote this a day or two ago, on hearing a song of former days." — Lord Byron to Mr. Hodgson, December 8. 1611.)
AWAY, AWAY, YE NOTES OF WOE.
Be silent, thou once soothing strain,
I dare not trust those sounds again.
But lull the chords, for now, alas !
On what I am - on what I was.
Is hush'd, and all their charms are fled ;
A dirge, an anthem o'er the dead !
Beloved dust ! since dust thou art ;
Is worse than discord to my heart !
The well remember'd echoes thrill;
A voice that now might well be still :
Even slumber owns its gentle tone,
To listen, though the dream be flown.
Thou art but now a lovely dream;
Then turn'd from earth its tender beam.
Must pass, when heaven is veil'd in wrath,
December 6. 1811.1
ONE STRUGGLE MORE, AND I AM FREE.
From pangs that rend my heart in twain
Then back to busy life again.
With things that never pleased before :
What future grief can touch me more ?
Man was not form’d to live alone :
That smiles with all, and weeps with none.
It never would have been, but thou
Thou 'rt nothing, — all are nothing now.
The smile that sorrow fain would wear
Like roses o'er a sepulchre.
confide, refused to answer, with marks of painful agitation, such as rendered any farther recurrence to the subject impossible. The reader must be left to form his own conclusion. The five following pieces are all devoted to Thyrza.),