1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Anonymous, "Byron — Shelley" The Examiner (3 October 1824) 635.



Dead? — He is dead! Upon the wide world's ear,
Fraught with what mute and sorrowful surprise,
Not uncommingled with a kind of fear,
That answer fell. There were no piercing cries,
As o'er the lost for ever, — the young flowers
Untimely shaken from their summer bowers.

So terrible it was — (Earth's greatest mind
To have departed) — that the common doom
Which leads resistlessly all human kind
Sooner or later to the downward tomb,
Appear'd prodigious, and a thing to call
A crowd of strange emotions from us all.

Dead? — He is dead! How that mysterious word
Grew more so, spoken of a being, whose
Deep thoughts, in free hearts tenanted, had stirr'd
Conceptions there to life they cannot lose,
Becoming cenotaphs and breathing urns,
Where his great shadow silently returns.

Cast like the signal beacon from a height
Where deeds are to be done, his spirit broke
Athwart the darkness of the waning night
To hail the coming dawn. The world awoke,
And dawn his noble form beside the flame
His hand had kindled, ere the morning came.

Nor, when the Sun of Freedom shall upspring,
Of Truth and Justice, shall the light decay;
For there is rear'd a column that shall fling
Intenser splendours, as more brightly play
The noonday's burning javelins against
The adamantine plates where 'tis fenc'd.

Yes! most immortal BYRON, at a time
When there were fewer of the sacred few
Arrayed against Oppressors, thy sublime,
Illimitable genius, upwards flew
Fearless, and in imperishable song
Denounc'd the guilty, — bade the weak be strong.

And other voices answered — His in chief,
The younger Brother of thy fame, whose love
Had strewn far brighter flowers, and not with grief,
But with heart-thrilling summons from above
Thy honour'd ashes sphere — words of high,
Proud consolation, to the passers-by.

But it grew silent sooner, and the wave
Is mourning now the victim of its wreck.—
Enough! — Yet over thy ancestral grave,
Though distant far, this head, great Byron, hath
Gaz'd, as beside a mother's half decay'd,
Decaying coffin, thine was slowly laid.

Dead? He is dead! But yet his thoughts are here,
And thought is life, and death is but a name
To hallow what it touches. O'er his bier
Let England bend with mingled pride and shame;
Pride, that he was her offspring; shame, because
Her condemnation is in his applause