1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

A Lady of Glasgow, "To Childe Harold" The Portico [Baltimore] 3 (May 1817) 417-18.



Oh Fortune! what avail thy smiles!
No smile to Harold's cheek they bring—
Oh! Beauty, cease thy blandish wiles,
For Harold only feels their sting.

Oh Nature! why on him bestow,
Gifts more than mortal minds adorn?—
In vain for him, thy roses blow,
For Harold only feels the thorn.

Oh Genius! why with rays divine,
And magick powers, this soul illume?—
In vain thy starry lamp may shine,
For Harold only feels its gloom.

Yet still one boon, the Childe may claim—
A boon to mortals rarely given;
On earth to hear his deathless fame,
And feel, at least, a ray from heav'n.

Dear, wayward Childe! I read and weep,
And almost feel thy fancied woes;
Nay — e'en thy image when I sleep,
Dwells in my dreams, and breaks repose.

But deem not me some Leman fair,
"With snowy arms and eyes of blue,"
Know fifty summers o'er my hair,
And on my cheek, have blanch'd their hue.

Yet, in my heart, nor pain, nor age
I feel, tho' both have mark'd my brow,
When gazing on thy witching page
With pleasure, never felt till now.

And, wast thou, Childe, a child of mine,
I'd sooth thee with a mother's love,
And pray — not to the tuneful nine,
But to the blessed powers above,

That Hope in heav'n, and Peace on earth,
And social bliss might still be thine,
And feelings, which from conscious worth,
Can raise the soul to joys divine.

Then Harold, strike again the lyre,
And pour sublime thy flood of song,
And let each chord thy genius fire,
As o'er its strings thou sweep'st along!

No gloomy thoughts of man's decay
Shall then thy spotless pages soil;
But wreaths unfading crown thy lay,
And fame immortal bless thy toil.