1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

T., "Elegiac Stanzas on Lord Byron" Literary Magnet 1 (1824) 319.



Let the spirit of song pour the accents of sorrow,
O'er the cold urn of BYRON, her favourite child;
Each muse from her lyre grief's expression shall borrow,
The strain shall be solemn, the notes shall be wild.

In youth's early dawn, on the brow of the mountain
He drank inspiration, pure nature his theme;
And wand'ring entranc'd by the gush of the fountain,
He mus'd in the rapture of poesy's dream.

The dominion of passion, the empire of feeling,
Each pulse of the heart own'd his magic control;
To his eye wanton fancy her treasures revealing,
The bright flame of genius enkindled his soul.

"Hours of Indolence" then to the Muse were devoted,
To her inspirations each feeling was strung;
On the breeze of the morning the harmony floated,
With the rude voice of echo his native woods rung.

The stores of tradition, the legends of story,
By his magic touch liv'd again in the page,
The heroes of Ossian reviv'd in their glory,
And started to life as the chiefs of the age.

To him the rude tempest, that swept o'er the billow,
Bore the voice of the spirit that rode on the storm;
And reclin'd on the rock, the wild heath for his pillow,
With the pen of the poet he painted its form.

But not the rude scenes of his youthful seclusion
Alone warm'd his fancy, and liv'd in his heart;
There the young buds of feeling then blush'd in profusion,
The offspring of nature, untainted by art.

By culture improv'd, their perfection unfolding,
Disclos'd a heart fraught with love of mankind;
By the tendrils of love to each youthful friend holding,
Their thoughts were united, their motives entwin'd.

Thus passed buoyant youth, — and as manhood succeeded,
The stream of his ardour less rapidly flow'd;
The shoals of experience its torrent impeded,
And the thick weeds of sorrow no passage allow'd.

To far distant lands as an exile he wander'd,
To realms that to classic remembrance are dear;
There o'er the cold ashes of heroes he ponder'd,
And drop'd to their manes the eloquent tear.

"Childe Harold" shall tell of each highly wrought feeling,
As o'er the mementos of ages he stray'd;
When the deep shades of night o'er the landscape were stealing,
And the tribute to each mournful relic he paid.

To these scenes ow'd the "Giaour" its soul-thrilling beauty,
The sky-piercing mountain, the ravine's deep shade,
Where the bandit, unaw'd by remorse or by duty,
To the shaggy-mouth'd cavern condemn'd the sweet maid.

The "Bride of Abydos," the "Corsair's" proud daring,
Bespoke a soul worthy of deathless renown;
He saw not the chalice that fate was preparing,
Or knew not the draught had been doom'd as his own.

The dark clouds of grief o'er his destiny hover'd,
Though the sunshine of Hope still illumin'd his way;
The tempest that broke on the morrow discover'd,
The deceitful illusion that brighten'd to-day.

With disgust, from the land of his birth he retreated,
A wand'rer once more doom'd in exile to roam;
His prospects were blighted, each hope was defeated,
And he sought among strangers a rest and a home.

But the morn of that genius was blasted by sorrow,
O'er its noon a dark shadow misanthropy cast;
And it sought from the dreams of delusion to borrow,
A balm that might sweeten the woes of the past.

But let not the Muse from fond memory banish
A name that shall flourish in ages to come;
With his life may this blot on his character vanish,
And the tear of compassion be shed on his tomb!