1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Anonymous, "To a celebrated Noble Poet" Gentleman's Magazine 86 (April 1816) 447.



When Genius sounds the tuneful shell,
Or heaven heaves the plaintive sigh,
Entranced upon the theme we dwell,
And love her minstrelsy.
Yet should the Muse her treasures bring
From Guilt or Error's tainted spring,
The Circean cup we fly;
Reject the sweet but poison'd bowl
That pours corruption on the soul.

And thus thy rich and varied strain
Enchants and wounds the ear;
Thy bitter smile of proud disdain
Mocks what we most revere:
Still, touch'd with all a Poet's fire,
Thy verse compels us to admire,
Though 'neath that veil appear
The darkness of the soul within,
The gloom of unrepented sin.

Ill-minded man! was deep remorse
Felt with so little pain,
That thou wouldst run the guilty course,
And taste its gall again?
Could virtue in her loveliest dress,
And pure Affection's chaste caress,
Engage the heart in vain?
Had infant innocence no charm?
Did nobler feelings cease to warm?

Then go! and in the faithless smile
That marks the harden'd heart below,
A little space thou may'st beguile
The pang thou yet shall know;
For now though deaf thy coward ear,
The time will come when thou shalt hear,
In impotence of woe,
That juggling Friend who cries at last
I warn'd thee, when "to dust" has pass'd.