1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

John Abraham Heraud, "Lines written in Moore's Life of Byron" Fraser's Magazine 4 (January 1832) 713.



Many have written of thee prose and rhyme,
Chaste or inflated, mocking-birds in either;
Yet few have judged a righteous judgment, most
Preferred to judge according to appearance;
Deeming themselves good Christians, though they brake
The Law of Love promulgated by Christ himself.
What God made, he made good — and of all men
The rudiments are good, but as they strive
For better, (daring aspiration!) find
The first imperfect, and the last delusive;
And if within a sensual region sought,
Positive evil find, and sin and pain.
This lot of man was thine! Who notes thee well,
Will find thee good at bottom, — ay, and strong
Of spirit to resolve and to perform.
For, as old Goethe said, writing of thee,
O Byron! e'en the best from dross and lees,
That cling to every age and individual,
Have e'er themselves to elevate; and thou
Wert throwing fast the perishable and transient
Away from thee, and pure from feculence,
Wert soaring into glory — for the present
And for all future ages, a bright Wonder!

Then let us censure not; but rather question
Our own hearts. Are they clean? And if the answer
Be such as satisfied not, let us seek
By deed heroic, though it guide to death,
By self-denial and self-sacrifice,
To purify and glorify our souls;
Acting upon the generous principle,
Thus written in the poet's diary,—
"What signifies — SELF, if a single spark
Of that, which would be worthy of the past,
Can be bequeathed unquenchedly to the future?"