Dorset! whose early steps with mine have stray'd,
Exploring every path of Ida's glade;
Whom still affection taught me to defend,
And made me less a tyrant than a friend,
Though the harsh custom of our youthful ban
Bade /thee/ obey, and gave /me/ to command;**
Thee, on whose head a few short years will shower
The gift of riches, and the pride of power;
E'en now a name illustrious is thine own,
Renown'd in rank, not far beneath the throne.
Yet, Dorset, let not this to seduce thy soul
To shun fair science, or evade control,
Though passive tutors, fearful to dispraise
The titled child, whose future breath may raise,
View ducal errors with indulgent eyes,
And wink at faults they tremble to chastise.
When youthful parasites, who bend the knee
To wealth, their golden idol, not to thee --
And even in simple boyhood's opening dawn
Some slaves are found to flatter and to fawn --
When these declare, "that pomp alone should wait
On one by birth predestined to be great;
That books were only meant for grudging fools,
That gallant spirits scorn the common rules;"
Believe them not; -- they point the path to shame,
And seek to blast the honours of thy name.
Turn to the few in Ida's early throng,
Whose souls disdain not to condemn the wrong;
Or if, amidst the comrades of thy youth,
None dare to raise the sterner voice of truth,
Ask thine own heart; 'twill bid thee, boy, forbear;
For /well/ I know that virtue lingers there.
Yes! I have mark'd thee many a passing day,
But now new scenes invite me far away;
Yes! I have mark'd within that generous mind
A soul, if well matured, to bless mankind.
Ah! though myself, by nature haughty, wild,
Whom Indiscretion hail'd her favourite child;
Though every error stamps me for her own,
And dooms my fall, I fain would fall alone;
Though my proud heart no precept now can tame,
I love the virtues which I cannot claim.
'Tis not enough, with other sons of power,
To gleam the lambent meteor of an hour;
To swell some peerage page in feeble pride,
With long-drawn names that grace no page beside;
Then share with titled crowds the common lot --
In life just gazed at, in the grave forgot:
While nought divides thee from the vulgar dead,
Except the dull cold stone that hides thy head,
The mouldering 'scutcheon, or the herald's roll,
That well-emblazon'd but neglected scroll,
Where lords, unhonour'd, in the tomb may find
One spot, to leave a worthless name behind.
There sleep, unnoticed as the gloomy vaults
That veil their dust, their follies and their faults,
A race, with old armorial lists o'erspread,
In records destined never to be read.
Fain would I view thee, with prophetic eyes,
Exalted more among the good and wise,
A glorious and a long career pursue,
As first in rank, the first in talent too:
Spurn every vice, each little meanness shun;
Not Fortune's minion, but her noblest son.
Turn to the annals of a former day;
Bright are the deeds thine earlier sires display.
One, though a courtier, lived a man of worth,
And call'd, proud boast! the British drama forth.
Another view, not less renown'd for wit;
Alike for courts, and camps, or senates fit;
Bold in the field, and favour'd by the Nine;
In every splendid part ordain'd to shine;
Far, far distinguish'd from the glittering throng,
The pride of princes, and the boast of song.
Such were thy fathers; thus preserve their name;
Not heir to titles only, but to fame.
The hour draws nigh, a few brief days will close,
To me this little scene of joys and woes;
Each knell of Time now warns me to resign
Shades where Hope, Peace, and Friendship all were mine:
Hope that could vary like the rainbow's hue,
And gild their pinions as the moments flew;
Peace, that reflection never frown'd away,
By dreams of ill to cloud some future day;
Friendship, whose truth let childhood only tell;
Alas! they love not long, who love so well.
To these adieu! nor let me linger o'er
Scenes hail'd, as exiles hail their native shore,
Receding slowly through the dark-blue deep,
Beheld by eyes that mourn, yet cannot weep.
Dorset, farewell! I will not ask one part
Of sad remembrance in so young a heart;
The coming morrow from thy youthful mind
Will sweep my name, nor leave a trace behind.
And yet, perhaps, in some maturer year,
Since chance has thrown us in the self-same sphere,
Since the same senate, nay, the same debate,
May one day claim our suffrage for the state,
We hence may meet, and pass each other by,
With faint regard, or cold and distant eye.
For me, in future, neither friend nor foe,
A stranger to thyself, thy weal or woe,
With thee no more again I hope to trace
The recollection of our early race;
No more, as once, in social hours rejoice,
Or hear, unless in crowds, thy well-known voice:
Still, if the wishes of a heart untaught
To veil those feelings which perchance it ought,
If these -- but let me cease the lengthen'd strain --
Oh! if these wishes are not breathed in vain,
The guardian seraph who directs thy fate
Will leave thee glorious, as he found thee great.
* In looking over my papers to select a few additional poems for this second edition, I found the above lines, which I had totally forgotten, composed in the summer of 1805, a short time previous to my departure from Harrow. They were addressed to a young schoolfellow of high rank, who had been my frequent companion in some rambles through the neighbouring country: however, he never saw the lines, and most probably never will. As, on a reperusal, I found them not worse than some other pieces in the collection, I have now published them, for the first time, after a slight revision.
** At every public school the junior boys are completely subservient to the upper forms till they attain a seat in the higher classes. From this state of probation, very properly, no rank is exempt, but after a certain period, they command in turn those who succeed.
*** Allow me to disclaim any personal allusions, even the most distant: I merely mention generally what is too often the weakness of preceptors.
Written shortly after the marriage of Miss Chaworth.
Hills of Annesley! bleak and barren,
Where my thoughtless childhood stray'd,
How the northern tempests, warring
Howl above thy tufted shade!
Now no more, the hours beguiling,
Former favorite haunts I see;
Now no more my Mary smiling
Makes ye seem a heaven to me.
GRANTA: A MEDLEY.
Oh, could Le Sage's demon gift*
Be realized at my desire,
This night my trembling form he'd lift
To place it on St Mary's spire.
Then would, unroof'd, old Granta's halls
Pedantic inmates full display;
Fellows who dream on lawn or stalls,
The price of venal votes to pay.
Then would I view each rival wight,
Petty and Palmerston survey;
Who canvass there with all their might,
Against the next elective day.
Lo! candidates and voters lie
All lull'd in sleep, a goodly number:
A race renown'd for piety,
Whose conscience won't disturb their slumber.
Lord H-----, indeed, may not demur;
Fellows are sage reflecting men:
They know preferment can occur
But very seldom -- now and then.
They know the Chancellor has got
Some pretty livings in disposal:
Each hopes that one may be his lot,
And therefore smiles on his proposal.
Now from the soporific scene
I'll turn mine eye, as night grows later,
To view, unheeded and unseen,
The studious sons of Alma Mater.
There, in apartments small and damp,
The candidate for college prizes
Sits poring by the midnight lamp;
Goes late to bed, yet early rises.
He surely well deserves to gain them,
With all the honours of his college,
Who, striving hardly to obtain them,
Thus seeks unprofitable knowledge;
Who sacrifices hours of rest
To scan precisely metres Attic;
Or agitates his anxious breast
In solving problems mathematic:
Who reads false quantities in Seale,**
Or puzzles o'er the deep triangle;
Deprived of many a wholesome meal;
In barbarous Latin doom'd to wrangle:***
Renouncing every pleasing page
From authors of historic use;
Preferring to the letter'd sage,
The square of the hypotenuse.****
Still, harmless are these occupations,
That hurt none but the hapless student,
Compared with other recreations,
Which bring together the imprudent;
Whose daring revels shock the sight,
When vice and infamy combine,
When drunkenness and dice invite,
As every sense is steep'd in wine.
Not so the methodistic crew,
Who plans of reformation lay:
In humble attitude they sue,
And for the sins of others pray:
Forgetting that their pride of spirit,
Their exultation in their trial,
Detracts most largely from the merit
Of all their boasted self-denial.
'Tis morn: -- from these I turn my sight.
What scene is this which meets the eye?
A numerous crowd, array'd in white,
Across the green in numbers fly.
Loud rings in air the chapel bell;
'Tis hush'd: -- what sounds are these I hear?
The organ's soft celestial swell
Rolls deeply on the list'ning ear.
To this is join'd the sacred song,
The royal minstrel's hallow'd strain;
Though he who hears the music long
Will never wish to hear again.
Our choir would scarcely be excused,
Even as a band of raw beginners;
All mercy now must be refused
To such a set of croaking sinners.
If David, when his toils were ended,
Had heard these blockheads sing before him,
To us his psalms had ne'er descended --
In furious mood he would have tore 'em.
The luckless Israelites, when taken
By some inhuman tyrant's order,
Were asked to sing, by joy forsaken,
On Babylonian river's border.
Oh! had they sung in notes like these,
Inspired by stratagem or fear,
They might have set their hearts at ease,
The devil a soul had stay'd to hear.
But if I scribble longer now,
The deuce a soul will stay to read:
My pen is blunt, my ink is low;
'Tis almost time to stop, indeed.
Therefore, farewell, old Granta's spires:
No more, like Cleofas, I fly:
No more thy theme my muse inspires --
The reader's tired, and so am I.
*The Diable Boiteux of Le Sage, where Asmodeus, the demon, places Don Cleofas on an elevated situation, and unroofs the houses for inspection.
** Seale's publication on Greek Metres displays considerable talent and ingenuity, but, as might be expected from so difficult a work, is not remarkable for accuracy.
*** The Latin of the schools is of the /canine species,/ and not very intelligible.
**** The discovery of Pythagoras, that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the squares of the other two sides of a right-angled triangle.
ON A DISTANT VIEW OF THE VILLAGE AND SCHOOL
"Oh! mihi præteritos referat si Jupiter annos." -- Virgil.
Ye scenes of my childhood, whose loved recollection
Embitters the present, compared with the past;
Where science first dawn'd on the powers of reflection,
And friendships were form'd, too romantic to last;
Where fancy yet joys to trace the resemblance
Of comrades, in friendship and mischief allied,
How welcome to me your ne'er-fading resemblance,
Which rests in the bosom, though hope is denied!
Again I revisit the hills where we sported,
The streams where we swam, and the fields where we fought;
The school where, loud warn'd by the bell, we resorted,
To pore o'er the precepts by pedagogues taught.
Again I behold where for hours I have ponder'd,
As reclining, at eve, on yon tombstone I lay;
Or round the steep brow of the churchyard I wander'd,
To catch the last gleam of the sun's setting ray.
I once more view the room, with spectators surrounded,
Where, as Zanga, I trod on Alonzo o'erthrown;
While to swell my young pride such applauses resounded,
I fancied that Mossop himself was outshone.*
Or, as Lear, I pour'd forth the deep imprecation,
By my daughters of kingdom and reason deprived:
Till, fired by loud plaudits and self-adulation,
I regarded myself as a Garrick revived.
Ye dreams of my boyhood, how much I regret you!
Unfaded your memory dwells in my breast;
Though sad and deserted, I ne'er can forget you:
Your pleasures may still be in fancy possest.
To Ida full oft may remembrance restore me,
While fate shall the shades of the future unroll!
Since darkness o'ershadows the prospect before me,
More dear is the beam of the past to my soul.
But if, through the course of the years which await me,
Some new scene of pleasure should open to view,
I will say, while with rapture the thought shall elate me,
"Oh! such were the days which my infancy knew!"
* Mossop, a contemporary of Garrick, famous for his performance of Zanga.
Oh! did those eyes, instead of fire,
With bright but mild affection shine,
Though they might kindle less desire,
Love, more than mortal, would be thine.
For thou art form'd so heavenly fair,
Howe'er those orbs may wildly beam,
We must admire, but still despair;
That fatal glance forbids esteem.
When Nature stamp'd thy beauteous birth,
So much perfection in thee shone,
She fear'd that, too divine for earth,
The skies might claim thee for their own:
Therefore, to guard her dearest work,
Lest angels might dispute the prize,
She bade a secret lightning lurk
Within those once celestial eyes.
These might the boldest sylph appal,
When gleaming with meridian blaze;
Thy beauty must enrapture all;
But who can dare thine ardent gaze?
'Tis said that Berenice's hair
In stars adorns the vault of heaven;
But they would ne'er permit thee there,
Thou wouldst so far outshine the seven.
For did those eyes as planets roll,
Thy sister-lights would scarce appear:
E'en suns, which systems now control,
Would twinkle dimly through their sphere.*
* "Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes,
To twinkle in their spheres till they return." -- Shakspeare.
Woman! experience might have told me,
That all must love thee who behold thee:
Surely experience might have taught
Thy firmest promises are nought:
But, placed in all thy charms before me,
All I forget, but to adore thee.
O Memory! thou choicest blessing
When join'd with hope, when still possessing;
But how much cursed by every lover
When hope is fled, and passion's over.
Woman, that fair and fond deceiver,
How fond are striplings to believe her!
How throbs the pulse when first we view
The eye that rolls in glossy blue,
Or sparkles black, or mildly throws
A beam from under hazel brows!
How quick we credit every oath,
And hear her plight the willing troth!
Fondly we hope 'twill last for aye,
When lo! she changes in a day.
This record will for ever stand,
"Woman! thy vows are traced in sand."*
* This line is almost a literal translation from a Spanish proverb.
TO M. S. G.
When I dream that you love me, you'll surely forgive:
Extend not your anger to sleep;
For in visions alone your affection can live --
I live, and it leaves me to weep.
Then, Morpheus! envelop my faculties fast,
Shed o'er me your languor benign;
Should the dream of to-night but resemble the last,
What rapture celestial is mine!
They tell us that slumber, the sister of death,
Mortality's emblem is given:
To fate how I long to resign my frail breath,
If this be a foretaste of heaven!
Ah! frown not, sweet lady, unbend your soft brow,
Nor deem me too happy in this;
If I sin in my dream, I atone for it now,
Thus doom'd but to gaze upon bliss.
Though in visions, sweet lady, perhaps you may smile,
Oh! think not my penance deficient!
When dreams of your presence my slumbers beguile,
To awake will be torture sufficient.
On receiving her picture.
This faint resemblance of thy charms,
Though strong as mortal art could give,
My constant heart of fear disarms,
Revives my hopes, and bids me live.
Here I can trace the locks of gold
Which round thy snowy forehead wave,
The cheek which sprung from beauty's mould,
The lips which made me beauty's slave.
Here I can trace -- ah, no! that eye,
Whose azure floats in liquid fire,
Must all the painter's art defy,
And bid him from the task retire.
Here I behold its beauteous hue;
But where's the beam so sweetly straying,
Which gave a lustre to its blue,
Like Luna o'er the ocean playing?
Sweet copy! far more dear to me,
Lifeless, unfeeling as thou art,
Than all the living forms could be,
Save her who placed thee next my heart.
She placed it, sad, with needless fear,
Lest time might shake my wavering soul,
Unconscious that her image there
Held every sense in fast control.
Through hours, through years, through time, 'twill cheer;
My hope, in gloomy moments, raise;
In life's last conflict 'twill appear,
And meet my fond expiring gaze.
Lesbia! since far from you I've ranged,
Our souls with fond affection glow not;
You say 'tis I, not you, have changed,
I'd tell you why -- but yet I know not.
Your polish'd brow no cares have crost;
And, Lesbia! we are not much older
Since, trembling, first my heart I lost,
Or told my love, with hope grown bolder.
Sixteen was then our utmost age,
Two years have lingering pass'd away, love!
And now new thoughts our minds engage,
At least I feel disposed to stray, love!
'Tis I that am alone to blame,
I that am guilty of love's treason;
Since your sweet breast is still the same,
Caprice must be my only reason.
I do not, love! suspect your truth,
With jealous doubt my bosom heaves not;
Warm was the passion of my youth,
One trace of dark deceit it leaves not.
No, no, my flame was not pretended;
For, oh! I loved you most sincerely;
And -- though our dream at last is ended --
My bosom still esteems you dearly.
No more we meet in yonder bowers;
Absence has made me prone to roving!
But older, firmer hearts than ours
Have found monotony in loving.
Your cheek's soft bloom is unimpair'd,
New beauties still are daily bright'ning,
Your eye for conquest beams prepared,
The forge of love's resistless lightning.
Arm'd thus, to make their bosoms bleed,
Many will throng to sigh like me, love!
More constant they may prove, indeed;
Fonder, alas! they ne'er can be, love!
Poetry: Lord Byron - Hours of idleness - Part 3 - Links to more Byron
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