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Whose manly breast the bearded arrow spurn'd, And, back with speed, th' envenom'd shaft return'd. To thee,—whose lofty strain, in later days, Hath found its meed, the Muse's warmest praise:– Byron to thee, I dedicate my song, 65 Arm'd, for the Nine, with Satire's cutting thong; To lash the would-be Poets of our age, And strike at Folly thro' her rhyming page. Yet, tho' my pen indignant must disclaim The base pretenders to poetic fame, 70 Think not my bosom, false to Genius' fires, Ne'er felt the warmth the true-born Muse inspires; 'Tis that, alone, has steel'd my ardent breast, And bade me poise the biting lance in rest; Forc'd, from its scabbard, e'en my maiden sword 75 To try its temper on the rhyming horde. Still, as I roam along my destin'd way, The heartfelt tribute of applause I'll pay To those, who, borne upon a wing of flame,
Ilave reach'd, with arduous flight, the shrine of Fame.
Then, first to thee, O, Byron' shall the Muse
Pour what she feels, nor thou the praise refuse.
Who have not own'd, as, with the “Childe”,” they
The lovely scenes Misanthropy defac'd,
Compassion's sigh for one, to virtue lost, 85
And on the stormy sea of passion tost;
Forc'd, by its billows, evermore to roam
Far from his native land, his once lov’d home;
And while, with sadden'd glance, his jaundiced eye
Ting'd with sick hue each brightest object nigh, 90
* On the merits of “Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage.” I will not enlarge, as the sentiments of the Reviewers are in unison with those of the general reader. In brilliancy of versification this exquisite poem is superior to the “Minstrel” and the “Fairy Queen;” and, in accurate imagery, not inferior to the “Seasons.” Lord Byron's subsequent publication (The Giaour), contains a description of the “yet warm dead,” of which, I think, the English
language affords no parallel,
Still ev'ry thought the same impression gave,
And stamp'd the man—despair's unhappy slave!
Who have not, then, the Poet's pow'r confest,
To sway the feelings of the throbbing breast;
To raise stern horror for a moment there, 05
And then to soothe it with soft pity's tear!
Have they not felt, as well, his hapless doom,
Who mourns his Thyrza, shrouded in her tomb;
Who weaves the fun'ral wreath, imbued with tears,
As the sad tribute to succeeding years; 100
And hangs his lyre upon the cypress tree
That shades her grave, in sad solemnity”!
* Tu, che ne vai in Pindo,
Ivi pendemia cetra ad un cipresso,
Salutala in mio nome, e dille poi
Ch'io son dagl'anni e da fortuna oppresso.
Thou, who to Pindus' flowery heights may'st go,
Where hangs my lyre upon the cypress tree,
Hail it from me; and say, that years, and woe,
Oppress the bard with heaviest misery.
Now will we turn, awhile, where hand in hand
The twin-like children of the Muses stand;
Campbell and Rogers:—blest with native fires, 105
One chaplet decks them, and one shrine inspires.
From me they need not;-nobler pens than mine
Have prais'd the nervous thought, th’harmonious line,
Where soothing Hope the sadden'd heart beguiles,
Or Mem'ry cheers it with remember'd smiles. 110
But here is one, who dares attempt, e'en now,
To share the wreath, or snatch it from their brow.
He sings not Hope “the charmer's" soft control;
But Hope deferr'd, the sick'ner of the soul.
His Harolde seeks no Mem'ry's soft'ning aid, 115
If Mem'ry come, she comes with fear array'd,
With piercing eye, and hand with dagger arm’d,
To strike the bosom, by no virtues charm'd
Yes, there is one, whose strain like theirs shall live,
Deck'd with the charms that poesy can give, 120
To future ages shall descend, and claim,
With them united, never dying fame.
So, the bright stars, Orion's belt that form,
Shine thro’ the tempest, and defy the storm;
So, blazing shed thro' Heav'n's sublime expanse, 125
From year to year, their undiminish’d glance;
So shall they ever,-'mid the spheres sublime,
Feel no rude shock, nor dread the hand of Time!
On such as these how fain the mind would pause,
And greet transcendent merit with applause! 130
Not such my task, nor such my anxious aim,
I, as my own, must ev'ry blockhead claim;
Pilf’rers or Punsters, Wits or Critic fools,
The Ass of nature or the Ass of schools.
Well said the Roman, in his courtly strain, 135
Poetic mimics” are a servile train;
* Imitatores, servum pecus.
HoR. Epist. lib. i. p. 19.