1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

J. J. Leathwick, "Stanzas on the Death of Lord Byron" The Literary Chronicle 6 (29 May 1824) 348-49.



What shriek was that? What congregated cry
That rings thus in mine anxious ear, and o'er
My spirits sheds a feeling tremblingly?
Why are the songs of morning mute, that soar
The sun to welcome from the land of love?
Why is each tearful eye cast on the ground?
A voice replied, "Great BYRON is no more!
And Grief's dark chains each heart and soul have bound;
Cast forth thy earnest look, and gaze on all around!"

I gaz'd, — and saw two radiant maids divine,
Their brilliant bright eyes shedding tear for tear;
Their arms around each other did entwine,—
Their looks, with grief, were sore, oppressed, and scar.—
They mourn'd for him who was to them so dear:
One was bright Poesy, — and at her side
Was Liberty — who fail'd her cap to rear,
Since he who lov'd her cause so well had died,
Since he from earth had gone who all her foes defied.

I saw Hope spring from off the grieving earth—
I saw sweet Pity heave a long-drawn sigh—
I heard the soul that in his form had birth,
Groan in its woe, as it prepar'd to fly,
Leaving its last beam on his glazing eye.
I saw Greek forms with sorrow deep oppress'd,
And mourning that their Byron e'er could die;
But oh! dear Gratitude liv'd in each breast,
For him whose glorious might had laboured for their rest.

Died, did I say? he cannot die! His fame
Will live so long as Time, when his form's clay
Shall long have mouldered into dust! His name
Will be more mighty than it is to-day,—
And endless life — a light of purest ray—
A watch-word to nobility of thought—
A word that future heroes will obey—
A path that all will glory that have sought—
A fame-crown'd track, with, aye, enduring glories fraught!

But let me rest awhile, and think upon
Thy matchless mind, that more than life created!
Oh! let me grieve to know that thou art gone
With whom few dead — none living could be mated!
There ne'er on earth was one so loved, so hated!
They well did love thee who were good and wise;—
The wretched for relief from thee ne'er waited;
But slaves and bigots, with their slanderous lies,
Assail'd that glorious worth they could not know or prize.

Oh, what a noble cause thou didst embrace,
The cause of long-despairing liberty!
Thou didst support, with all thy power, a race
Whose struggles make them worthy to be free,—
And free as air their hearts and hands shall be!—
It was thy strain that told them they were slaves,—
It was thy song that broke their lethargy,—
It was thy soul that stirr'd those mental waves,
That sweep from ever mind all fear of death and grave!

Aye! thou didst kindle in each breast a fire,
That now illumes the 'rapt and gazing world!
'Tis proving and will prove a Moslem pyre,
In which all domination shall be hurl'd—
O'er which the conq'ring flag shall flap unfurl'd!
The "antique sword" of Greece was drawn anew—
Her ancient might thy glorious muse impearl'd—
Thy burning songs of war each bosom knew—
And thro' awakening souls thy flashing ardour flew.

Here let me pause! it still appears a dream,
That thou art gone — that I thus humbly sing
My lay of sorrow. — I can hardly deem
That from the earth thy spirit has ta'en wing.
Oh, could we bring it back by sorrowing—
That cannot be, however wild and deep!
Farewell to all thy bright imagining;
Yet one dear truth will cheer us as we weep,
Thy lay — thy light — thy fame — on earth can never sleep!
Edmonton.