« PreviousContinue »
There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;
SONG OF THE SOUTH-SEA ISLANDERS
How pleasant were the songs of Toobonai,
Yes-fron the sepulchre we'll gather flowers,
And, wet and shining from the sportive toil,
But now the dance is o'er—yet stay awhile;
How lovely are your forms ! how every sense
ON THIS DAY I COMPLETE MY THIRTY
MISSOLONGHI, Jan. 22, 1824. 'Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move :
Still let me love!
My days are in the yellow leaf ;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
Are mine alone!
The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some volcanic isle ;
A funeral pile.
The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
of love, I cannot share,
But 'tis not thus—and 'tis not here
Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now,
Or binds his brow.
The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see! The Spartan, borne upon his shield,
Was not more free.
Awake! (not Greece-she is awake !)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake,
And then strike home!
Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy manhood !-unto thee Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of beauty be.
If thou regret'st thy youth, why live?
The land of honourable death
Away thy breath!
Seek out—less often sought than found
A soldier's grave, for thee the best ;
And take thy rest.
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE
The first two cantos of Childe Harold,' it would seem, were written incidentally and their publication was almost by acci. dent. On his return from his first journey abroad Byron brought home a poem, the Imitation of Horace,' with which he hoped to follow up the success of · English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.' It was quite with indifference that he informed his friend Dallas that he had written, while abroad, also “a great many stanzas in Spenser's measure, relative to the countries he had vis. ited.” These stanzas apparently he regarded as of little worth and had scarcely thought of publishing. Dallas, however, persuaded him to publish them ; and so “Childe Harold' saw the light.
The poem thus composed and printed owed little, accordingly, save its stanza, to literary tradition, and seems to be wholly original and spontaneous in design. External unity it has none, save in the perfunctory presence and personality of the Childe himself. There is enough of narrative, however, to suggest the epic genre, enough of description to suggest the didactic and idyllic poetry of the Eighteenth century, and enough of the movement and emotion of song to suggest the lyric. Indeed the real unity of the poem is in the personality of the poet, and the poet here as elsewhere is constantly and passionately personal and subjective. So that •Childe Harold' is more of a lyrical poem (in this restricted and modern sense) than anything else. It seems, indeed, superficially to answer to the description of “a glorified guide-book ” and “a rhythmical diorama,” which has been applied to it. But the presence of a potent poetic personality throughout keeps it always in the domain of high poetry, and renders it interesting and com