1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

"Leigh Hunt," "Lines to my Friend Byron" 1823; The Albion [New York] 2 (3 January 1824) 227 [reprinted from John Bull].



Dear Byron, while you're out walking, I'll just say
Something about ourselves in my off-hand way,
Easy and Chaucer-like; in that free rhyme
They used to warble in the olden time,
And which you so chucklingly listen to when I
Pour out a strain of it, as 'twere, chirplingly;
Full of all sorts of lovely, graceful things,
Smacking of fancy, pretty imaginings,
Which I trick out with a Titian-like sort of air,
And a touch of Michael Angelo here and there;
For though the graceful's wherein I excel,
I dash off the sublime, too, pretty well.

Now, let me see — I have it — I'll suppose
(Though you're there in the garden plucking a rose,)
That, after travelling many and many a day,
You are wandering in some country far away,
When, being tired, you stretch beneath a tree,
And take from your pocket my Rimini,
And read it through and through, and think of me;
And then you take some other work of mine,
And con it daintily, tasting it line by line,
Pausing 'tween whiles, as one does drinking port,
And smack your lips, saying, "This is your right sort."
And, when it has grown too dark for you to see,
You close the book and wish for your dear Leigh:
Then comes a little bird, fluttering near,
And perches, fairy like, on the tip of your ear;
Then up you jump and would hunch it away,
But, spite of all, the little bird will stay,
And then — (But what I'm writing all this while
Is a fancy in my wild Ariosto style)—
And thus this little bird turns into me,
And you rush forward to me in extasy,
And grasp my hand, as it were, clutchingly,
And call me your "dear Leigh;" while I, e'en bolder,
Cry, "Ah, my dear Byron!" clapping you on the shoulder,
E'en just as I might be supposed to do,
If this were not a Poet's dream, but true.