1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

T., "To Greece, on the Death of Lord Byron" Morning Chronicle (2 August 1824).



Land, where the father-bard attuned the lyre
For Gods and heroes, where fair Sappho sung
Immortal love, and like the bird of morn
Bright Pindar soar'd on inspiration's wing!
Land of the martyrs, whose eternal names
The consecrated page of virtue bears
When columns moulder; weep not him who gave
His glowing genius to thy holy cause
Who left the myrtle shades and orange bowers,
And soft retirement on Ausonia' shore,
For the steep mountain and the castled rock,
Where, like an eagle in the stormy clouds,
Young Freedom's banner floated, and the cry
Of vengeance, like the thunder peal'd around.

Weep not for Byron, he hath won his fame;
Weep not his glory, but avenge his loss;
Pour on the foe the spirit he hath breathed,
So shall the plain of Marathon again
Be ripe with glory's vintage, so the waves
Of Salamis be redden'd with the blush
Of the descending Crescent, and thy rocks,
Thy rocks, Thermopylae! of awful fame,
Again be brightened by the lightning's flash,
Blasting the savage from the hero's soil.

He died to win thee from the cold embrace
Of desolation — from the Tyrant's grasp.
The slave's base scorn, and pity of the free,
And when just waking from thy trance of mind
Did not his lyre enchant thee? Sweet and wild
And full of grandeur, like prophetic strains,
His voice inspired thee with immortal hopes,
Like the strange music of the Orphean song
That check'd decay, and call'd the spirit back,
And flush'd the face of death with living fires.

His was not syren-like the strain that flung
O'er rosy bowers and vintage-cover'd hills
Effeminate enchantment, such as made
The vassal youth, in base and shameless joys,
Forget the virtues of their race — forget the sires
Of arts and glory in their ancient land
When liberty enclos'd it — No! his Muse
Held not the cup of Circe to the lips,
Sparkling with witchcraft that enslav'd the soul.
The hand that swept the chords, was fit to wield
The sword, Alcaeus, thy own warrior-bard,
Twin'd with the laurel from the Delphic true—

Around him gather'd not the votaries
Of dance, and lute, and wanton revelry,
Wreathing their flowery crowns, and strewing o'er
The couch of pleasure with the myrtle bough;
But chiefs, in iron clad, and martial youth,
Strong in the pride that turns the tyrant pale—
Forming the Spartan rampart of the land,
'Gainst hosts, that roll'd, like the dark ocean, on,
And broke in foam and feebleness away!

To these he spoke the words of fire, that flew
Electric through the land! — now mute that voice,
And tuneless the wild chords of melody—
No living hand can waken! — Let his dirge
Be heard upon the stormy breath of war!—
His requiem not the sighs of drooping slaves,
But holy hymns of freemen; — and the flowers,
That deck his urn, be of immortal growth
Of Fame's bright chaplet — never known to spring
From out the bosom of a land in chains!