1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Charles Caleb Colton, "Irregular Ode, on the Death of Lord Byron" The Sun (26 August 1825).



We mourn Thy wreck; — that Mighty Mind
Did whirlwind Passions whelm,
While Wisdom wavered, half inclined
To quit the dangerous Helm;
Thou wast an Argosy of cost,
Equipped, enriched in vain,
Of Gods the work — of Men the boast,
Glory thy Port, — and doomed to gain
That splendid Haven, only to be lost!

Lost, e'en when Greece, with conquest blest
Thy gallant bearing hailed;—
Then sighs from Valour's mailed breast,
And tears of Beauty failed;
Oh hadst thou in the Battle died,
Triumphant e'en in death,
The Patriot's as the Poet's Pride,
While bold Minervas twined thy wreath,
Then had thy full career Malice and Fate defied.

What Architect, with choice design,
Of Rome or Athens styled,
E're left a monument like thine?—
And all from Ruins piled;
A prouder motto marks thy Stone
Than Archimedes's Tomb,
He asked a Fulcrum, thou demandest none,
But reckless of Past, Present, and to Come—
Didst on thyself depend, to shake the World, — alone.

Thine eye to all extremes and ends
And opposites could turn,
And like the congelated lens,
Could sparkle, freeze, or burn;
But in thy mind's abyss profound,
As in some Limbo vast,
More shapes and Monsters did abound,
To set the wondering world aghast
Than wave-worn Noah fed, or starry Tuscan found.

Was love thy lay, Cythaera reined
Her Car, and owned the spell,
Was Hate thy theme, that murky Fiend
For hotter Earth, left Hell;
The palaced Crown, the cloistered Cowl
Moved but thy spleen, or mirth;
Thy smile was deadlier than thy scowl,
In guise unearthly didst thou roam the Earth,
Screened in Thalia's Mask, to drug the Tragic Bowl.

Lord of thine own Imperial Sky,
In Virgin "pride of place,"
Thou soared'st where others could not fly,
And hardly dared to gaze;
The Condor, thus, his pennoned vane
O'er Cotopaxa spreads,
But should he ken the prey, or scent the slain,
Nor chilling height, nor burning depth he dreads,
From Andes' chrystal crag, to Lima's sultry plain.

Like Lucan's early was thy tomb,
And more than Bion's mourned;
For still such lights themselves consume;
—The brightest, briefest burned;—
But from thy blazing shield recoiled
Pale Envy's bolt of lead,
She, but to work thy triumphs, toil'd,
And muttering coward curses, fled;
Thee, thine own strength alone, like matchless Milo, foiled.

We prize thee that thou didst not fear
What stoutest hearts might rack,
And didst the diamond Genius wear,
That tempts yet foils the attack;
We mourn thee, that thou would'st not find,
While prisoned in thy clay,
Since such there were, some kindred mind,
For Friendship lasts through Life's long day,
And doth with surer chain than Love or Beauty bind;

We blame thee, that with baleful light
Thou didst astound the world,
A Comet, plunging from his height,
And into Chaos hurled;
Accorded King of anarch power,
And talent misapplied,
That hid thy God in evil hour,
Or showed him only to deride,
And o'er the gifted blaze of thine own brightness lour.

Thy fierce Volcanic breast, o'ercast,
With Hecla's frosty cloke,
All earth with fire impure could blast,
And darken Heaven with smoke:
O'er Ocean, Continent, and Isle,
The Conflagration ran,
Thou, from thy Throne of Ice, the while,
Didst the red Ruin calmly scan,
And tun'd Apollo's Harp with Nero's ghastly smile;

What now avails that Muse of Fire
Her nothing of a name,
Thy Master Hand, and matchless Lyre,
What have they gained? — but Fame;
Fame Fancy's Child, by Folly fed
On breath of meanest things,
A Phantom wooed in virtue's stead,
That Envy to the living brings,
And silent, solemn mockery to the dead.

Ne'er since the deep-toned Theban sung,
Unto the listening Nine,
Hath classic hill or valley rung
With harmony like thine;
Who now shall wake thy widowed lyre?
There breathes but one, who dares
To that herculean task aspire;
But, less than thou, for fame he cares,
And scorns both hope and fear, ambition and desire.
C. C. C.

* The foregoing Poem was written by the Rev. C. C. COLTON, whose mysterious disappearance excited so much conjecture and so many strange reports. His LACON, his Poem entitled HYPOCRISY, and other valuable works, are powerful proofs of his learning and talents. We are indebted for the above Poem to a Gentleman who lately left Paris, and who received it from the Author.