1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

William Lisle Bowles, "Childe Harold's Last Pilgrimage" 1825; Literary Souvenir, or Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (1826) 43-45.



So ends Childe Harold his last pilgrimage!—
Above the Malian surge he stood, and cried
"Liberty!" and the shores, from age to age
Renown'd, and Sparta's woods and rocks, replied,
"Liberty!" But a Spectre, at his side
Stood mocking; — and its dark uplifting high
Smote him: — he sank to earth in life's fair pride:
Sparta! thy rocks echoed another cry,
And old Ilissus sighed — "Die, generous exile, die!"

I will not ask sad Pity to deplore
His wayward errors, who thus early died:
Still less, Childe Harold, now thou art no more.
Will I say aught of genius misapplied;
Of the past shadows of thy spleen or pride:—
But I will bid the Arcadian cypress wave,
Pluck the green laurel from Peneus' side,
And pray thy spirit may such quiet have,
That not one thought unkind be murmur'd o'er thy grave.

So ends Childe Harold his last pilgrimage!—
Ends in that region — in that land renowned,
Whose mighty genius lives in Glory's page,
And on the Muses' consecrated ground,—
His pale cheek fading where his brows were bound
With their unfading wreath! I will not call
The nymphs from Pindus' piny shades profound,
But strew some flowers upon thy sable pall,
And follow to the grave a Briton's funeral.

Slow more the plumed hearse, the mourning train,
I mark the long procession with a sigh,
Silently passing to that village fane
Where, Harold, thy forefathers mouldering lie;—
Where sleeps the mother, who with tearful eye
Pondering the fortunes of thy onward road,
Hung o'er the slumbers of thine infancy;
Who here, released from every human load,
Receives her long-lost child the same calm abode.

Bursting Death's silence — could that mother speak—
When first the earth is heaped upon thy head,
In thrilling, but with hollow accent weak,
She thus might give the welcome of the dead:—
"Here rest my son, with me ;— the dream is fled;—
The motley mask and the great coil are o'er:
Welcome to me, and to this wormy bed,
Where deep forgetfulness succeeds the roar
Of earth, and fretting passions waste the heart no more.

"Here rest! — on all thy wanderings peace repose,
After the fever of thy toilsome way;
No interruption this long silence knows;
Here no vain phantoms lead the soul astray:
The earth-worm feeds on his unconscious prey;
Here both shall sleep in peace till earth and sea
Give up their dead, at that last awful day,
King, Lord, Almighty Judge! remember me;
And may Heav'n's mercy rest, my erring child, on thee!"