1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Patty, "Lord Byron" New York Mirror and Ladies' Literary Gazette 1 (3 July 1824) 392.



That mind of dark magnificence hath set,
That rose like a rich meteor on our sight;
Like a bright storm of diamonds edged in jet,
Whose blackness scowls in rivalship to light—
For ever set — its calm tremendous blaze
Hath burst into the shuddering scenes of space,
Past far away from man's desponding gaze,
It warms into a smile eternity's cold face;
Flings its stern radiance across the gloom
Which spreads beyond the climate of the tomb.

Who hath forgot — who can forget the hour,
When the grand meteor of mind first rose?
Shot o'er the earth its bright and burning power,
Defying her scorch'd heart — her dazzled glance repose?
Who can forget how beautifully grand,
It dress'd with flashes the wide world of thought;
Held o'er our senses, as it were, a wand,
That set the ancient wizards all at naught;
And made the step of even time half pause,
To mingle in the whirlwind of applause.

How, as it held its passage though the air,
The eye of nations watch'd it with delight,
And almost fancied that a soul was there,
Whose arm had bath'd in supernatural light;
For as it threw its silent splendours round,
Minds thron'd on greatness, clos'd their shrinking eye,
For there was not 'mid all the nations found,
One who could hurl a glance one half so high;
Lustre on lustre through the air was strown,
And still it rush'd on awful and alone.

Darkness hath spread her sable hand between
Our vision and that view — and all is dim—
Ages may not behold what late hath been,
For where is there a mind to range with him,
Who stood in pale sublimity before
The worship of fond thousands, and was calm;
Who, with a word, made prejudice adore,
And held fame firmly with a single arm;
And said to genius, drop thy knee — and lo
The proud one sighed in feeling, and — 'twas so.

Darkness, alas, now sits on the sad air,
Looking as if there never had been light;
And men are shaking hands with dumb despair,
And Africa's dark cheek is wet and white;
And Asia sighs, and sayeth not a word,
And Greece, her child, is weeping on her breast;
And o'er the Atlantic a bleak groan is heard,
Like an orphaned people, not in false crape drest—
Sorrow is leaning on creation's shoulder,
And looking as if heaven would not behold her.