1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

C., "Address to Lord Byron" St. James's Chronicle (16 September 1815).



Know'st thou the land where the hardy green thistle,
The red blooming heath, and the harebell abound;
Where oft o'er the mountain the shepherd's shrill whistle
Is heard, in the gloaming, so sweetly to sound?
Know'st thou the land of the mountain and flood,
Where the pine of the forest for ages has stood;
Where the eagle comes forth on the wings of the storm,
And her young ones are rock'd on the high Cairngor'm?
Know'st thou the land where the cold Celtic wave
Encircles the hills which its blue waters lave;
Where the Virgins are pure as the gems of the sea,
And their spirits are light as their actions are free?
Know'st thou the land where the sun's ling'ring ray
Streaks with gold the horizon, till dawns the new day;
Whilst the cold feeble beam which he sheds on the sight,
Scarce breaks through the gloom of the cold winter night?
—'Tis the land of thy Sires! 'Tis the land of thy youth,
Where first the young heart glow'd with honour and truth;
Where the wild fire of genius first caught the young soul,
And thy feet and thy fancy roam'd free from controul!
Ah! why does that fancy still dwell on those climes,
Where love leads to madness, and madness to crimes!
Where man is — a despot, and woman — a slave?
Tho' soft are the breezes, and rich the perfume,
And fair are the gardens of "Gal" in their bloom;
Can the roses they twine, or the vines which they bear,
Speak peace to the heart of suspicion and fear?
Let Phoebus' bright ray gild the Egean wave,
But say, can it brighten the lot of a slave—
Or all that is beauteous in Nature impart
One virtue to soften the Moslem's proud heart?
Ah, no! 'tis the magic that glows in thy strain,
Gives soul to the action, and life to the scene;
And "the deeds which they do, and the tales which they tell,"
Enchant us alone by the power of thy spell.

And is there no charm in thine own native earth?
Does no talisman rest on the place of thy birth?
Are the daughters of Albion less worthy thy care,
Less soft than "Yuliskeen," less bright than "Gulnare?"
Are her sons less renown'd, or her warriors less brave
Than the slaves of a Prince, who himself is a slave?

Then strike thy wild harp! let it swell with the strain,
Let the mighty in arms, live and conquer again;
Their deeds and their glory thy lay shall prolong,
And the fame of thy country shall live in thy song.
The proud wreaths of Vict'ry round heroes may twine,
'Tis the Poet who crowns them with honours divine;
And thy laurels "Pelides," had sunk in the tomb,
Had the Bard not preserv'd them immortal in bloom!