1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Alonzo, "Extempore. To Lord Byron" New England Galaxy [Boston] 2 (1 October 1819) 204.



Hail, noble bard! I know thee well!
I know thee by the magic spell
That twines around thy burning verse,
Imperious, rapid, bold and terse.
Dark minstrel! well I love thy lines,
Where free, undaunted genius shines;
I lov'd them when thy youthful muse
First drank Castalia's sacred dews—
And when through knighthood's realm she stray'd
And sung the havoc war had made—
And when she roam'd through wisdom's clime,
And view'd Parnassus' top sublime—
And when she stray'd thro' eastern dells,
The clime where dark-eyed Beauty dwells.
Thy numbers speak a soul divine,
Though dark as Eblis' gloomy mine—
Its thoughts, abrupt as Calpe's steep—
Its passions, wild, intense and deep.
What heart of pity does not bleed—
Who can without emotion read,
Of fond Zulieka's tenderness—
Of faithful Kaled's deep distress—
Of Conrad's strange mysterious mood,
And daring Gulvar's deed of blood!
What bosom thrills not to the core
Thy sacred lays to Thyrza o'er?
What breast of pity does not swell,
While pausing o'er thy deep Farewell:
Thy themes perchance are sometimes vain,
But thou canst wake a holier strain;
Witness the glow that clad the face
Of the wandering tribes of Jacob's race—
Witness the bright seraphic band,
That listen'd to thy master hand,
What time it swept the mouldering wire
Of Judah's long-neglected lyre.
And well thy hand its skill display'd
When calling Satire to its aid,
It rais'd to crush the Hydra head,
In fens of modern Lerna bred;
O Byron! well I love thy strains,
Where free, undaunted genius reigns.