1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

C. T. R., "On the Death of Lord Byron" The New-York Mirror 5 (21 July 1827) 16.



And art thou gone, imperial shade,
Whose living strain so lately breathed—
Has thy wild lyre so soon bequeathed
Its echoes to the dead?
Art gone indeed? Then fare thee well—
No living bard like thee can tell,
By poesy's resistless spell,
To charm life's melancholy glade!

Oh say 'tis but a baseless dream
Thy death's abhorred phantasma shows—
In form unreal by thee flows
The phlegethontic stream;
But no: — I see too strongly clear
Thine altered form like mist appear—
And feel, in agony of fear,
Thine eyes' unearthly gleam!

How each pale shade affrighted flies
The living lightning of thy frown;
While thou, erect, lookest sternly down,
Contempt fierce flashing from thine eyes!
Even there thy kingly pride will wield
The sceptre of that shadowy field,
Nor to its grim-browed monarch yield
Homage or sacrifice!

Why this is well: the quickening blood
Thrills warmer through each swelling vein,
To think that genius thus should reign,
Even on the shore of that dark flood
Those countless hovering shadows bow
Before the splendour of his brow;
And recreant millions grovel now
Where but so late they stood.

The gloom hath gone that hung before,
Impenetrably dark around;
And in eternal midnight bound
The lightless Stygian shore:
Where hath it fled? for now behold!
Above, beneath, around him rolled,
Clouds upon clouds, like burning gold,
Their sunny radiance pour!

And a faint dawning smile appears,
'Mid the deep paleness of his cheek;
All cheerless, lustreless, and weak—
As struggling through a shroud of tears;
It brightens, and his eye grows red,
As through the silence of the dead,
With iron tramp, a well-known tread
And well known sigh he hears.

'Tis his own comrade; wild and deep
Is the sad gloom that shades his brow;
And see — another passes now,
The turbanned Alp hath broke from sleep!
Mazepha too, and Cain, are there,
And Manfred, mystic lord of air;
And see that maid, with streaming hair,
O'er headless Ugo weep.

Another, yet another — lo,
Sardanapalus, crowned with flowers,
And fairer than the rosy hours—
Ionian Myrrha hides her wo—
And dark-browed Harold joins the train
With smile that ill conceals his pain.
Oh! when will such another strain
Of mingled sweetness flow!

But list! another step draws nigh—
The last but not the least is here—
See smiling Juan's shade appear,
With youth and joy in his bright eye;
The soil and erring Julia, too,
Wilt, shrinking blush stands forth to view—
And young Haidee, too fair, too true,
Heaves her soul-piercing sigh!

The imperial bride, Gulbeyaz, frowns,
Constrained the ignoble crowd to join—
And Leila, from th' embattled line,
Her loved preserver smiling owns:—
And here they stand — and here, beside
Their lord; his varying cheek now dyed
In crimson — now all cold in pride—
And now, subdued, he groans:

Heard ye that groan? It was not loud
Nor shrill, but would have pierced the ear
Of death upon the charnel bier,
Waking the corse within its shroud!
'Twas horrible! — so deadly deep,
The startled bearer could not weep—
It seemed through the hot brain to sweep
Like to some blasting cloud!

It was but one; that giant heart
Disdains the vulgar show of grief—
Nor even a moment's short relief
Would a world's sympathy impart.
'Tis silent: and the veil again
Of horrid darkness shrouds the glen—
But deeper o'er the sons of men
Descends, when such as he depart!