1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

James Gordon Brooks, "Byron" Philadelphia Album 3 (4 February 1829) 281.



Creative Fancy! canst thou paint the wild
And mighty grandeur of thy way ward child,
The gifted Byron — canst thou tell, if Death
Appalled the spirit, when he checked the breath?
High-hearted bard! in whose capacious mind
The extremes of good and evil were combined;
Common in nothing, and beyond the ken
And judgment of the common herd of men.
Tempestuous passions wrapped thy heart in strife,
And high excitement was thy life of life—
Thy searching spirit and far reaching thought
All that was wonderful in nature caught,
And where thy glance of genius brightly fell,
It warmed and quickened with a mystic spell.
Thy words are words of wonder and of fear,
And startle while they fascinate the ear—
Wrapt in the cloudy mantle of thy might,
Thou wast a marvel to our mortal sight;
What art thou now? — the eye seeks thee in vain
Upon the earth, and on thy much loved main.
—'Tis night o'er Missolonghi's silent walls,
And wherefore sounds not music from her halls?
It is the season of the Paschal feast;
Why hath the echo of the revel ceased?
Behold that chamber, where the shrouded light
Of the dim lamp half glimmers through the night,
The noiseless step, the curtain moved with care,
Tell that unsparing Death is busy there.
Look on that couch — behold that faded eye,
Glazed in the fixedness of agony,
Yet, yet, preserving in this awful hour
A portion of its soul-pervading power,
And sternly gazing ere Death dim is light
On the Destroyer, in his hour of might!
Is that the haughty Byron? he who bore
On his high front such majesty before?
Where is the passion, of that noble brow,
Where is its wild and lofty beauty now?
Wan, pale, he lies, while fate's uplifted dart
Flames fearfully above that generous heart?
Away — away! avert the anxious eye,
In silent solitude let genius die:
Let no unhallowed step, nor glance, nor breath
Disturb the sacredness of such a death!
Behold! that wasted hand is clenched in pain,
And fire unearthly lights that eye again;
On that pale cheek the death-sweat gathers fast—
His lip is writhed — that struggle is his last—
The spirit hath departed on its way
To unknown worlds — and — Byron is but clay!