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The Works Of Lord Byron, Vol. 3 (of 7)
by Lord Byron
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1815.



BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON WE SAT DOWN AND WEPT.[302]

I.

We sate down and wept by the waters[303] Of Babel, and thought of the day When our foe, in the hue of his slaughters, Made Salem's high places his prey; And Ye, oh her desolate daughters! Were scattered all weeping away.

II.

While sadly we gazed on the river Which rolled on in freedom below, They demanded the song; but, oh never That triumph the Stranger shall know![mk] May this right hand be withered for ever, Ere it string our high harp for the foe!

III.

On the willow that harp is suspended, Oh Salem! its sound should be free;[ml] And the hour when thy glories were ended But left me that token of thee: And ne'er shall its soft tones be blended With the voice of the Spoiler by me!

Jan. 15, 1813.



"BY THE WATERS OF BABYLON."

I.

In the valley of waters we wept on the day When the host of the Stranger made Salem his prey; And our heads on our bosoms all droopingly lay, And our hearts were so full of the land far away!

II.

The song they demanded in vain—it lay still In our souls as the wind that hath died on the hill— They called for the harp—but our blood they shall spill Ere our right hands shall teach them one tone of their skill.

III.

All stringlessly hung in the willow's sad tree, As dead as her dead-leaf, those mute harps must be: Our hands may be fettered—our tears still are free For our God—and our Glory—and Sion, Oh Thee!

1815.



THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB.

I.

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

II.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green, That host with their banners at sunset were seen: Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,[304] That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

III.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved—and for ever grew still!

IV.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride; And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,[mm] And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.[mn]

V.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:[mo] And the tents were all silent—the banners alone— The lances unlifted—the trumpet unblown.

VI.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,[mp] And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,[mq] Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Seaham, Feb. 17, 1815.



A SPIRIT PASSED BEFORE ME.

FROM JOB.

I.

A spirit passed before me: I beheld The face of Immortality unveiled— Deep Sleep came down on every eye save mine— And there it stood,—all formless—but divine: Along my bones the creeping flesh did quake; And as my damp hair stiffened, thus it spake:

II.

"Is man more just than God? Is man more pure Than he who deems even Seraphs insecure? Creatures of clay—vain dwellers in the dust! The moth survives you, and are ye more just? Things of a day! you wither ere the night, Heedless and blind to Wisdom's wasted light!"



FOOTNOTES:

[287] {381} [In a manuscript note to a letter of Byron's, dated June 11, 1814, Wedderburn Webster writes, "I did take him to Lady Sitwell's party.... He there for the first time saw his cousin, the beautiful Mrs. Wilmot [who had appeared in mourning with numerous spangles in her dress]. When we returned to ... the Albany, he ... desired Fletcher to give him a tumbler of brandy, which he drank at once to Mrs. Wilmot's health.... The next day he wrote some charming lines upon her, 'She walks in beauty,' etc."—Letters, 1899, iii. 92, note 1.

Anne Beatrix, daughter and co-heiress of Eusebius Horton, of Catton Hall, Derbyshire, married Byron's second cousin, Robert John Wilmot (1784-1841), son of Sir Robert Wilmot of Osmaston, by Juliana, second daughter of the Hon. John Byron, and widow of the Hon. William Byron. She died February 4, 1871.

Nathan (Fugitive Pieces, 1829, pp. 2, 3) has a note to the effect that Byron, while arranging the first edition of the Melodies, used to ask for this song, and would not unfrequently join in its execution.]

[le] {382} The Harp the Minstrel Monarch swept, The first of men, the loved of Heaven, Which Music cherished while she wept.—[MS. M.]

[lf] {383} It told the Triumph——.—[MS. M.]

[288] ["When Lord Byron put the copy into my hand, it terminated with this line. This, however, did not complete the verse, and I asked him to help out the melody. He replied, 'Why, I have sent you to Heaven—it would be difficult to go further!' My attention for a few moments was called to some other person, and his Lordship, whom I had hardly missed, exclaimed, 'Here, Nathan, I have brought you down again;' and immediately presented me the beautiful and sublime lines which conclude the melody."—Fugitive Pieces, 1829, p. 33.]

[lg] It there abode, and there it rings, But ne'er on earth its sound shall be; The prophets' race hath passed away; And all the hallowed minstrelsyFrom earth the sound and soul are fled, And shall we never hear again?—[MS. M. erased.]

[289] [According to Nathan, the monosyllable "if" at the beginning of the first line led to "numerous attacks on the noble author's religion, and in some an inference of atheism was drawn."

Needless to add, "in a subsequent conversation," Byron repels this charge, and delivers himself of some admirable if commonplace sentiments on the "grand perhaps."-Fugitive Pieces, 1829, pp. 5, 6.]

[lh] {384} ——breaking link.—[Nathan, 1815, 1829.]

[290] [Compare To Ianthe, stanza iv. lines 1, 2—

"Oh! let that eye, which, wild as the Gazelle's, Now brightly bold or beautifully shy."

Compare, too, The Giaour, lines 473, 474—

"Her eye's dark charm 'twere vain to tell, But gaze on that of the Gazelle." Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 13; et ante, p. 108.]

[291] {387} [Nathan (Fugitive Pieces, 1829, pp. 11, 12) seems to have tried to draw Byron into a discussion on the actual fate of Jephtha's daughter—death at her father's hand, or "perpetual seclusion"—and that Byron had no opinion to offer. "Whatever may be the absolute state of the case, I am innocent of her blood; she has been killed to my hands;" and again, "Well, my hands are not imbrued in her blood!"]

[292] {388} ["In submitting the melody to his Lordship's judgment, I once inquired in what manner they might refer to any scriptural subject: he appeared for a moment affected—at last replied, 'Every mind must make its own references; there is scarcely one of us who could not imagine that the affliction belongs to himself, to me it certainly belongs.' 'She is no more, and perhaps the only vestige of her existence is the feeling I sometimes fondly indulge.'"—Fugitive Pieces, 1829, p. 30. It has been surmised that the lines contain a final reminiscence of the mysterious Thyrza.]

[li] ——in gentle gloom.—[MS. M.]

[lj] Shall Sorrow on the waters gaze, And lost in deep remembrance dream, As if her footsteps could disturb the dead.—[MS. M.]

[lk] {389} Even thou——.—[MS. M.]

[ll] IV.

Nor need I write to tell the tale, My pen were doubly weak; Oh what can idle words avail, Unless my heart could speak?

V.

By day or night, in weal or woe, That heart no longer free Must bear the love it cannot show, And silent turn for thee.—[MS. M.]

[293] [Compare "Nay, now, pry'thee weep no more! you know, ... that 'tis sinful to murmur at ... Providence."—"And should not that reflection check your own, my Blanche?"—"Why are your cheeks so wet? Fie! fie, my child!"—Romantic Tales, by M. G. Lewis, 1808, i. 53.]

[294] [Compare "My soul is dark."—Ossian, "Oina-Morul," The Works of Ossian, 1765, ii. 279.]

[295] {390} ["It was generally conceived that Lord Byron's reported singularities approached on some occasions to derangement; and at one period, indeed, it was very currently asserted that his intellects were actually impaired. The report only served to amuse his Lordship. He referred to the circumstance, and declared that he would try how a Madman could write: seizing the pen with eagerness, he for a moment fixed his eyes in majestic wildness on vacancy; when, like a flash of inspiration, without erasing a single word, the above verses were the result."—Fugitive Pieces, 1829, p. 37.]

[296] [Compare the first Sonnet to Genevra (addressed to Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster), "Thine eye's blue tenderness."]

[lm] {392} He stands amidst an earthly cloud, And the mist mantled o'er his floating shroud.—[MS. erased.]

[ln] At once and scorched beneath——.—[MS. Copy (1, 2).]

[lo] Bloodless are these bones——.—[MS.]

[297] ["Since we have spoken of witches," said Lord Byron at Cephalonia, in 1823, "what think you of the witch of Endor? I have always thought this the finest and most finished witch-scene that ever was written or conceived; and you will be of my opinion, if you consider all the circumstances and the actors in the case, together with the gravity, simplicity, and dignity of the language."—Conversations on Religion with Lord Byron, by James Kennedy, M.D., London, 1830, p. 154.]

[lp] {393} Heed not the carcase that lies in your path.—[MS. Copy (1).]

[lq] ——my shield and my bow, Should the ranks of your king look away from the foe.—[MS.]

[lr] {394} Heir to my monarchy——.—[MS.] Note to Heir—Jonathan.—[Copy.]

[ls] My father was the shepherd's son, Ah were my lot as lowly My earthly course had softly run.—[MS.]

[298] {395} [Compare Childe Harold, Canto I. stanza lxxxii. lines 8, 9—

"Full from the fount of Joy's delicious springs Some bitter o'er the flowers its bubbling venom flings." Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 73, and note 16, p. 93.]

[lt] Ah! what hath been but what shall be, The same dull scene renewing? And all our fathers were are we In erring and undoing.—[MS.]

[lu] When this corroding clay is gone.—[MS. erased.]

[lv] The stars in their eternal way.—[MS. L. erased.]

[lw] {396} A conscious light that can pervade.—[MS. erased.]

[299] {397} [Compare the lines entitled "Belshazzar" (vide post, p. 421), and Don Juan, Canto III. stanza lxv.]

[lx] ——in the hall.—[Copy.]

[ly] In Israel——.—[Copy.]

[300] {398} [It was not in his youth, but in extreme old age, that Daniel interpreted the "writing on the wall."]

[lz] Oh king thy grave——.—[Copy erased.]

[301] {400} [Mariamne, the wife of Herod the Great, falling under the suspicion of infidelity, was put to death by his order. Ever after, Herod was haunted by the image of the murdered Mariamne, until disorder of the mind brought on disorder of body, which led to temporary derangement. See History of the Jews, by H. H. Milman, 1878, pp. 236, 237. See, too, Voltaire's drama, Mariamne, passim.

Nathan, wishing "to be favoured with so many lines pathetic, some playful, others martial, etc.... one evening ... unfortunately (while absorbed for a moment in worldly affairs) requested so many dull lines—meaning plaintive." Byron instantly caught at the expression, and exclaimed, "Well, Nathan! you have at length set me an easy task," and before parting presented him with "these beautifully pathetic lines, saying, 'Here, Nathan, I think you will find these dull enough.'"—Fugitive Pieces, 1829, p. 51.]

[ma] And what was rage is agony.—[MS. erased.] Revenge is turned——.—[MS.]

[mb] And deep Remorse——.—[MS.]

[mc] And what am I thy tyrant pleading.—[MS. erased.]

[md] Thou art not dead—they could not dare Obey my jealous Frenzy's raving.—[MS.]

[me] But yet in death my soul enslaving.—[MS. erased.]

[mf] {401} Oh I have earned——.—[MS.]

[mg] ——that looks o'er thy once holy dome.—[MS.]

[mh] ——o'er thy once holy wall I beheld thee O Sion the day of thy fall.—[MS. erased.]

[mi] And forgot in their ruin——.—[MS. erased.]

[mj] {402} And the red bolt——.—[MS. erased.] And the thunderbolt crashed——.—[MS.]

[302] [The following note, in Byron's handwriting, is prefixed to the copy in Lady Byron's handwriting:—

"Dear Kinnaird,—Take only one of these marked 1 and 2 [i.e. 'By the Rivers,' etc.; and 'By the waters,' vide p. 404], as both are but different versions of the same thought—leave the choice to any important person you like. Yours, B."]

[303] [Landor, in his "Dialogue between Southey and Porson" (Works, 1846, i. 69), attempted to throw ridicule on the opening lines of this "Melody."

"A prey in 'the hue of his slaughters'! This is very pathetic; but not more so than the thought it suggested to me, which is plainer—

'We sat down and wept by the waters Of Camus, and thought of the day When damsels would show their red garters In their hurry to scamper away.'"]

[mk] {403} Our mute harps were hung on the willow That grew by the stream of our foe, And in sadness we gazed on each billow That rolled on in freedom below.—[MS, erased.]

[ml] On the willow that harp still hangs mutely Oh Salem its sound was for thee.—[MS. erased.]

[304] {405} [Compare—"As leaves in autumn, so the bodies fell." The Barons' Wars, by Michael Drayton, Bk. II. stanza lvii.; Anderson's British Poets, iii. 38.]

[mm] And the foam of his bridle lay cold on the earth.—[MS.]

[mn] ——of the cliff-beating surf.—[MS.]

[mo] With the crow on his breast——.—[MS.]

[mp] And the widows of Babel——.—[MS. erased.]

[mq] And the voices of Israel are joyous and high.—[MS. erased.]



POEMS 1814-1816.



POEMS 1814-1816.



FAREWELL! IF EVER FONDEST PRAYER.

1.

Farewell! if ever fondest prayer For other's weal availed on high, Mine will not all be lost in air, But waft thy name beyond the sky. 'Twere vain to speak—to weep—to sigh: Oh! more than tears of blood can tell, When wrung from Guilt's expiring eye,[305] Are in that word—Farewell!—Farewell!

2.

These lips are mute, these eyes are dry; But in my breast and in my brain, Awake the pangs that pass not by, The thought that ne'er shall sleep again. My soul nor deigns nor dares complain, Though Grief and Passion there rebel: I only know we loved in vain— I only feel—Farewell!—Farewell!

[First published, Corsair, Second Edition, 1814.]



WHEN WE TWO PARTED.

1.

When we two parted In silence and tears, Half broken-hearted To sever for years, Pale grew thy cheek and cold, Colder thy kiss; Truly that hour foretold[mr] Sorrow to this.

2.

The dew of the morning[ms] Sunk chill on my brow— It felt like the warning Of what I feel now. Thy vows are all broken,[mt] And light is thy fame: I hear thy name spoken, And share in its shame.

3.[mu]

They name thee before me, A knell to mine ear; A shudder comes o'er me— Why wert thou so dear? They know not I knew thee, Who knew thee too well:— Long, long shall I rue thee, Too deeply to tell.

4.

In secret we met— In silence I grieve. That thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive. If I should meet thee[mv] After long years, How should I greet thee?— With silence and tears.

[First published, Poems, 1816.]



[LOVE AND GOLD.[306]]

1.

I cannot talk of Love to thee, Though thou art young and free and fair! There is a spell thou dost not see, That bids a genuine love despair.

2.

And yet that spell invites each youth, For thee to sigh, or seem to sigh; Makes falsehood wear the garb of truth, And Truth itself appear a lie.

3.

If ever Doubt a place possest In woman's heart, 'twere wise in thine: Admit not Love into thy breast, Doubt others' love, nor trust in mine.

4.

Perchance 'tis feigned, perchance sincere, But false or true thou canst not tell; So much hast thou from all to fear, In that unconquerable spell.

5.

Of all the herd that throng around, Thy simpering or thy sighing train, Come tell me who to thee is bound By Love's or Plutus' heavier chain.

6.

In some 'tis Nature, some 'tis Art That bids them worship at thy shrine; But thou deserv'st a better heart, Than they or I can give for thine.

7.

For thee, and such as thee, behold, Is Fortune painted truly—blind! Who doomed thee to be bought or sold, Has proved too bounteous to be kind.

8.

Each day some tempter's crafty suit Would woo thee to a loveless bed: I see thee to the altar's foot A decorated victim led.

9.

Adieu, dear maid! I must not speak Whate'er my secret thoughts may be; Though thou art all that man can reck I dare not talk of Love to thee.



STANZAS FOR MUSIC.[307]

1.

I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name,[mw] There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame: But the tear which now burns on my cheek may impart The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart.

2.[mx]

Too brief for our passion, too long for our peace, Were those hours—can their joy or their bitterness cease? We repent, we abjure, we will break from our chain,— We will part, we will fly to—unite it again!

3.

Oh! thine be the gladness, and mine be the guilt![my] Forgive me, adored one!—forsake, if thou wilt;— But the heart which is thine shall expire undebased[mz] And man shall not break it—whatever thou mayst.[na]

4.

And stern to the haughty, but humble to thee, This soul, in its bitterest blackness, shall be:[nb] And our days seem as swift, and our moments more sweet, With thee by my side, than with worlds at our feet.

5.[nc]

One sigh of thy sorrow, one look of thy love,[nd] Shall turn me or fix, shall reward or reprove; And the heartless may wonder at all I resign— Thy lip shall reply, not to them, but to mine.

May 4, 1814. [First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, i. 554.]



ADDRESS INTENDED TO BE RECITED AT THE CALEDONIAN MEETING.[308]

Who hath not glowed above the page where Fame Hath fixed high Caledon's unconquered name; The mountain-land which spurned the Roman chain, And baffled back the fiery-crested Dane, Whose bright claymore and hardihood of hand No foe could tame—no tyrant could command? That race is gone—but still their children breathe, And Glory crowns them with redoubled wreath: O'er Gael and Saxon mingling banners shine, And, England! add their stubborn strength to thine. The blood which flowed with Wallace flows as free, But now 'tis only shed for Fame and thee! Oh! pass not by the northern veteran's claim, But give support—the world hath given him fame!

The humbler ranks, the lowly brave, who bled While cheerly following where the Mighty led—[309] Who sleep beneath the undistinguished sod Where happier comrades in their triumph trod, To us bequeath—'tis all their fate allows— The sireless offspring and the lonely spouse: She on high Albyn's dusky hills may raise The tearful eye in melancholy gaze, Or view, while shadowy auguries disclose The Highland Seer's anticipated woes, The bleeding phantom of each martial form Dim in the cloud, or darkling in the storm;[310] While sad, she chaunts the solitary song, The soft lament for him who tarries long— For him, whose distant relics vainly crave The Coronach's wild requiem to the brave!

'Tis Heaven—not man—must charm away the woe, Which bursts when Nature's feelings newly flow; Yet Tenderness and Time may rob the tear Of half its bitterness for one so dear; A Nation's gratitude perchance may spread A thornless pillow for the widowed head; May lighten well her heart's maternal care, And wean from Penury the soldier's heir; Or deem to living war-worn Valour just[311] Each wounded remnant—Albion's cherished trust— Warm his decline with those endearing rays, Whose bounteous sunshine yet may gild his days— So shall that Country—while he sinks to rest— His hand hath fought for—by his heart be blest!

May, 1814. [First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, i. 559.]



ELEGIAC STANZAS ON THE DEATH OF SIR PETER PARKER, BART.[312]

1.

There is a tear for all that die,[313] A mourner o'er the humblest grave; But nations swell the funeral cry, And Triumph weeps above the brave.

2.

For them is Sorrow's purest sigh O'er Ocean's heaving bosom sent: In vain their bones unburied lie, All earth becomes their monument!

3.

A tomb is theirs on every page, An epitaph on every tongue: The present hours, the future age, For them bewail, to them belong.

4.

For them the voice of festal mirth Grows hushed, their name the only sound; While deep Remembrance pours to Worth The goblet's tributary round.

5.

A theme to crowds that knew them not, Lamented by admiring foes, Who would not share their glorious lot? Who would not die the death they chose?

6.

And, gallant Parker! thus enshrined Thy life, thy fall, thy fame shall be; And early valour, glowing, find A model in thy memory.

7.

But there are breasts that bleed with thee In woe, that glory cannot quell; And shuddering hear of victory, Where one so dear, so dauntless, fell.

8.

Where shall they turn to mourn thee less? When cease to hear thy cherished name? Time cannot teach forgetfulness, While Grief's full heart is fed by Fame.

9.

Alas! for them, though not for thee, They cannot choose but weep the more; Deep for the dead the grief must be, Who ne'er gave cause to mourn before.

October 7, 1814. [First published, Morning Chronicle, October 7, 1814.]



JULIAN [A FRAGMENT].[314]

1.

The Night came on the Waters—all was rest On Earth—but Rage on Ocean's troubled Heart. The Waves arose and rolled beneath the blast; The Sailors gazed upon their shivered Mast. In that dark Hour a long loud gathered cry From out the billows pierced the sable sky, And borne o'er breakers reached the craggy shore— The Sea roars on—that Cry is heard no more.

2.

There is no vestige, in the Dawning light, Of those that shrieked thro' shadows of the Night. The Bark—the Crew—the very Wreck is gone, Marred—mutilated—traceless—all save one. In him there still is Life, the Wave that dashed On shore the plank to which his form was lashed, Returned unheeding of its helpless Prey— The lone survivor of that Yesterday— The one of Many whom the withering Gale Hath left unpunished to record their Tale. But who shall hear it? on that barren Sand None comes to stretch the hospitable hand. That shore reveals no print of human foot, Nor e'en the pawing of the wilder Brute; And niggard vegetation will not smile, All sunless on that solitary Isle.

3.

The naked Stranger rose, and wrung his hair, And that first moment passed in silent prayer. Alas! the sound—he sunk into Despair— He was on Earth—but what was Earth to him, Houseless and homeless—bare both breast and limb? Cut off from all but Memory he curst His fate—his folly—but himself the worst. What was his hope? he looked upon the Wave— Despite—of all—it still may be his Grave!

4.

He rose and with a feeble effort shaped His course unto the billows—late escaped: But weakness conquered—swam his dizzy glance, And down to Earth he sunk in silent trance. How long his senses bore its chilling chain, He knew not—but, recalled to Life again, A stranger stood beside his shivering form— And what was he? had he too scaped the storm?

5.

He raised young Julian. "Is thy Cup so full Of bitterness—thy Hope—thy heart so dull That thou shouldst from Thee dash the Draught of Life, So late escaped the elemental strife! Rise—tho' these shores few aids to Life supply, Look upon me, and know thou shalt not die. Thou gazest in mute wonder—more may be Thy marvel when thou knowest mine and me. But come—The bark that bears us hence shall find Her Haven, soon, despite the warning Wind."

6.

He raised young Julian from the sand, and such Strange power of healing dwelt within the touch, That his weak limbs grew light with freshened Power, As he had slept not fainted in that hour, And woke from Slumber—as the Birds awake, Recalled at morning from the branched brake, When the day's promise heralds early Spring, And Heaven unfolded woos their soaring wing: So Julian felt, and gazed upon his Guide, With honest Wonder what might next betide.

Dec. 12, 1814.



TO BELSHAZZAR.

1.[ne]

Belshazzar! from the banquet turn, Nor in thy sensual fulness fall; Behold! while yet before thee burn The graven words, the glowing wall,[nf] Many a despot men miscall Crowned and anointed from on high; But thou, the weakest, worst of all— Is it not written, thou must die?[ng]

2.

Go! dash the roses from thy brow— Grey hairs but poorly wreathe with them; Youth's garlands misbecome thee now, More than thy very diadem,[nh] Where thou hast tarnished every gem:— Then throw the worthless bauble by, Which, worn by thee, ev'n slaves contemn; And learn like better men to die!

3.

Oh! early in the balance weighed, And ever light of word and worth, Whose soul expired ere youth decayed, And left thee but a mass of earth. To see thee moves the scorner's mirth: But tears in Hope's averted eye Lament that even thou hadst birth— Unfit to govern, live, or die.

February 12, 1815. [First published, 1831.]



STANZAS FOR MUSIC.[315]

"O Lachrymarum fons, tenero sacros Ducentium ortus ex animo: quater Felix! in imo qui scatentem Pectore te, pia Nympha, sensit." Gray's Poemata. [Motto to "The Tear," Poetical Works, 1898, i. 49.]

1.

There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away, When the glow of early thought declines in Feeling's dull decay; 'Tis not on Youth's smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast,[ni] But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere Youth itself be past.

2.

Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt or ocean of excess: The magnet of their course is gone, or only points in vain The shore to which their shivered sail shall never stretch again.

3.

Then the mortal coldness of the soul like Death itself comes down; It cannot feel for others' woes, it dare not dream its own; That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears, And though the eye may sparkle still, 'tis where the ice appears.

4.

Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and mirth distract the breast, Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest; 'Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruined turret wreath[nj][316] All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and grey beneath.

5.

Oh, could I feel as I have felt,—or be what I have been, Or weep as I could once have wept, o'er many a vanished scene; As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish though they be, So, midst the withered waste of life, those tears would flow to me.

March, 1815. [First published, Poems, 1816.]



ON THE DEATH OF THE DUKE OF DORSET.[317]

1.

I heard thy fate without a tear, Thy loss with scarce a sigh; And yet thou wast surpassing dear, Too loved of all to die. I know not what hath seared my eye— Its tears refuse to start; But every drop, it bids me dry, Falls dreary on my heart.

2.

Yes, dull and heavy, one by one, They sink and turn to care, As caverned waters wear the stone, Yet dropping harden there: They cannot petrify more fast, Than feelings sunk remain, Which coldly fixed regard the past, But never melt again.

[1815.]



STANZAS FOR MUSIC.

1.

Bright be the place of thy soul! No lovelier spirit than thine E'er burst from its mortal control, In the orbs of the blessed to shine. On earth thou wert all but divine, As thy soul shall immortally be;[nk] And our sorrow may cease to repine When we know that thy God is with thee.

2.

Light be the turf of thy tomb![nl][318] May its verdure like emeralds be![nm] There should not be the shadow of gloom In aught that reminds us of thee. Young flowers and an evergreen tree[nn] May spring from the spot of thy rest: But nor cypress nor yew let us see; For why should we mourn for the blest?

[First published, Examiner, June 4, 1815.]



NAPOLEON'S FAREWELL.[319]

[FROM THE FRENCH.]

1.

Farewell to the Land, where the gloom of my Glory Arose and o'ershadowed the earth with her name— She abandons me now—but the page of her story, The brightest or blackest, is filled with my fame.[no] I have warred with a World which vanquished me only When the meteor of conquest allured me too far; I have coped with the nations which dread me thus lonely, The last single Captive to millions in war.

2.

Farewell to thee, France! when thy diadem crowned me, I made thee the gem and the wonder of earth,— But thy weakness decrees I should leave as I found thee,[np] Decayed in thy glory, and sunk in thy worth. Oh! for the veteran hearts that were wasted In strife with the storm, when their battles were won— Then the Eagle, whose gaze in that moment was blasted Had still soared with eyes fixed on Victory's sun![nq]

3.

Farewell to thee, France!—but when Liberty rallies Once more in thy regions, remember me then,— The Violet still grows in the depth of thy valleys; Though withered, thy tear will unfold it again— Yet, yet, I may baffle the hosts that surround us, And yet may thy heart leap awake to my voice— There are links which must break in the chain that has bound us, Then turn thee and call on the Chief of thy choice!

July 25, 1815. London. [First published, Examiner, July 30, 1815.]



FROM THE FRENCH.[320]

I.

Must thou go, my glorious Chief, Severed from thy faithful few? Who can tell thy warrior's grief, Maddening o'er that long adieu?[nr] Woman's love, and Friendship's zeal, Dear as both have been to me—[ns] What are they to all I feel, With a soldier's faith for thee?[nt]

II.

Idol of the soldier's soul! First in fight, but mightiest now;[nu] Many could a world control; Thee alone no doom can bow. By thy side for years I dared Death; and envied those who fell, When their dying shout was heard, Blessing him they served so well.[321]

III.

Would that I were cold with those, Since this hour I live to see; When the doubts of coward foes[nv] Scarce dare trust a man with thee, Dreading each should set thee free! Oh! although in dungeons pent, All their chains were light to me, Gazing on thy soul unbent.

IV.

Would the sycophants of him Now so deaf to duty's prayer,[nw] Were his borrowed glories dim, In his native darkness share? Were that world this hour his own, All thou calmly dost resign, Could he purchase with that throne Hearts like those which still are thine?[nx]

V.

My Chief, my King, my Friend, adieu! Never did I droop before; Never to my Sovereign sue, As his foes I now implore: All I ask is to divide Every peril he must brave; Sharing by the hero's side His fall—his exile—and his grave.[ny]

[First published, Poems, 1816,]



ODE FROM THE FRENCH.[322]

I.

We do not curse thee, Waterloo! Though Freedom's blood thy plain bedew; There 'twas shed, but is not sunk— Rising from each gory trunk, Like the water-spout from ocean, With a strong and growing motion— It soars, and mingles in the air, With that of lost La Bedoyere—[323] With that of him whose honoured grave Contains the "bravest of the brave." A crimson cloud it spreads and glows, But shall return to whence it rose; When 'tis full 'twill burst asunder— Never yet was heard such thunder As then shall shake the world with wonder— Never yet was seen such lightning As o'er heaven shall then be bright'ning! Like the Wormwood Star foretold By the sainted Seer of old, Show'ring down a fiery flood, Turning rivers into blood.[324]

II.

The Chief has fallen, but not by you, Vanquishers of Waterloo! When the soldier citizen Swayed not o'er his fellow-men— Save in deeds that led them on Where Glory smiled on Freedom's son— Who, of all the despots banded, With that youthful chief competed? Who could boast o'er France defeated, Till lone Tyranny commanded? Till, goaded by Ambition's sting, The Hero sunk into the King? Then he fell:—so perish all, Who would men by man enthral!

III.

And thou, too, of the snow-white plume! Whose realm refused thee ev'n a tomb;[325] Better hadst thou still been leading France o'er hosts of hirelings bleeding, Than sold thyself to death and shame For a meanly royal name; Such as he of Naples wears, Who thy blood-bought title bears. Little didst thou deem, when dashing On thy war-horse through the ranks. Like a stream which burst its banks, While helmets cleft, and sabres clashing, Shone and shivered fast around thee— Of the fate at last which found thee: Was that haughty plume laid low By a slave's dishonest blow? Once—as the Moon sways o'er the tide, It rolled in air, the warrior's guide; Through the smoke-created night Of the black and sulphurous fight, The soldier raised his seeking eye To catch that crest's ascendancy,— And, as it onward rolling rose, So moved his heart upon our foes. There, where death's brief pang was quickest, And the battle's wreck lay thickest, Strewed beneath the advancing banner Of the eagle's burning crest— (There with thunder-clouds to fan her, Who could then her wing arrest— Victory beaming from her breast?) While the broken line enlarging Fell, or fled along the plain; There be sure was Murat charging! There he ne'er shall charge again!

IV.

O'er glories gone the invaders march, Weeps Triumph o'er each levelled arch— But let Freedom rejoice, With her heart in her voice; But, her hand on her sword, Doubly shall she be adored; France hath twice too well been taught The "moral lesson"[326] dearly bought— Her safety sits not on a throne, With Capet or Napoleon! But in equal rights and laws, Hearts and hands in one great cause— Freedom, such as God hath given Unto all beneath his heaven, With their breath, and from their birth, Though guilt would sweep it from the earth; With a fierce and lavish hand Scattering nations' wealth like sand; Pouring nations' blood like water, In imperial seas of slaughter!

V.

But the heart and the mind, And the voice of mankind, Shall arise in communion— And who shall resist that proud union? The time is past when swords subdued— Man may die—the soul's renewed: Even in this low world of care Freedom ne'er shall want an heir; Millions breathe but to inherit Her for ever bounding spirit— When once more her hosts assemble, Tyrants shall believe and tremble— Smile they at this idle threat? Crimson tears will follow yet.[327]

[First published, Morning Chronicle, March 15, 1816.]



STANZAS FOR MUSIC.

1.

There be none of Beauty's daughters With a magic like thee; And like music on the waters Is thy sweet voice to me: When, as if its sound were causing The charmed Ocean's pausing, The waves lie still and gleaming, And the lulled winds seem dreaming:

2.

And the midnight Moon is weaving Her bright chain o'er the deep; Whose breast is gently heaving, As an infant's asleep: So the spirit bows before thee, To listen and adore thee; With a full but soft emotion, Like the swell of Summer's ocean.

March 28 [1816]. [First published, Poems, 1816.]



ON THE STAR OF "THE LEGION OF HONOUR."[328]

[FROM THE FRENCH.]

1.

Star of the brave!—whose beam hath shed Such glory o'er the quick and dead— Thou radiant and adored deceit! Which millions rushed in arms to greet,— Wild meteor of immortal birth! Why rise in Heaven to set on Earth?

2.

Souls of slain heroes formed thy rays; Eternity flashed through thy blaze; The music of thy martial sphere Was fame on high and honour here; And thy light broke on human eyes, Like a Volcano of the skies.

3.

Like lava rolled thy stream of blood, And swept down empires with its flood; Earth rocked beneath thee to her base, As thou didst lighten through all space; And the shorn Sun grew dim in air, And set while thou wert dwelling there.

4.

Before thee rose, and with thee grew, A rainbow of the loveliest hue Of three bright colours,[329] each divine, And fit for that celestial sign; For Freedom's hand had blended them, Like tints in an immortal gem.

5.

One tint was of the sunbeam's dyes; One, the blue depth of Seraph's eyes; One, the pure Spirit's veil of white Had robed in radiance of its light: The three so mingled did beseem The texture of a heavenly dream.

6.

Star of the brave! thy ray is pale, And darkness must again prevail! But, oh thou Rainbow of the free! Our tears and blood must flow for thee. When thy bright promise fades away, Our life is but a load of clay.

7.

And Freedom hallows with her tread The silent cities of the dead; For beautiful in death are they Who proudly fall in her array; And soon, oh, Goddess! may we be For evermore with them or thee!

[First published, Examiner, April 7, 1816.]



STANZAS FOR MUSIC.

I.

They say that Hope is happiness; But genuine Love must prize the past, And Memory wakes the thoughts that bless: They rose the first—they set the last;

II.

And all that Memory loves the most Was once our only Hope to be, And all that Hope adored and lost Hath melted into Memory.

III.

Alas! it is delusion all: The future cheats us from afar, Nor can we be what we recall, Nor dare we think on what we are.

[First published, Fugitive Pieces, 1829.]



FOOTNOTES:

[305] {409} [Compare The Corsair, Canto I. stanza xv. lines 480-490.]

[mr] {410} Never may I behold Moment like this.—[MS.]

[ms] The damp of the morning Clung chill on my brow.—[MS. erased.]

[mt] Thy vow hath been broken.—[MS.]

[mu] ——lies hidden Our secret of sorrowAnd deep in my soulBut deed more forbidden, Our secret lies hidden, But never forgot.—[Erasures, stanza 3, MS.]

[mv] {411} If one should meet thee How should we greet thee? In silence and tears.—[MS.]

[306] [From an autograph MS. in the possession of Mr. Murray, now for the first time printed.

The water-mark of the paper on which a much-tortured rough copy of these lines has been scrawled, is 1809, but, with this exception, there is no hint as to the date of composition. An entry in the Diary for November 30, 1813, in which Annabella (Miss Milbanke) is described "as an heiress, a girl of twenty, a peeress that is to be," etc., and a letter (Byron to Miss Milbanke) dated November 29, 1813 (see Letters, 1898, ii. 357, and 1899, iii. 407), in which there is more than one allusion to her would-be suitors, "your thousand and one pretendants," etc., suggest the idea that the lines were addressed to his future wife, when he first made her acquaintance in 1812 or 1813.]

[307] {413} ["Thou hast asked me for a song, and I enclose you an experiment, which has cost me something more than trouble, and is, therefore, less likely to be worth your taking any in your proposed setting. Now, if it be so, throw it into the fire without phrase."—Letter to Moore, May 4, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 80.]

[mw] I speak not—I breathe not—I write not that name.—[MS. erased.]

[mx] {414} We have loved—and oh, still, my adored one we love! Oh the moment is past, when that Passion might cease.— [MS. erased.]

[my] The thought may be madness—the wish may be—guilt.—[MS. erased.]

[mz] {But I cannot repent what we ne'er can recall. {But the heart which is thine would disdain to recall.— [MS. erased.]

[na] ——though I feel that thou mayst.—[MS. L. erased.]

[nb] This soul in its bitterest moments shall be, And our days run as swift—and our moments more sweet, With thee at my side, than the world at my feet.—[MS.]

[nc] {415} And thine is that love which I will never forego Though the price which I pay be Eternity's woe.—[MS. erased]

[nd] One tear of thy sorrow, one smile——.—[MS. erased]

[308] [The "Caledonian Meeting," at which these lines were, or were intended to be, recited (see Life, p. 254), was a meeting of subscribers to the Highland Society, held annually in London, in support of the [Royal] Caledonian Asylum "for educating and supporting children of soldiers, sailors, and marines, natives of Scotland." "To soothe," says the compiler of the Report for 1814, p. 4, "by the assurance that their offspring will be reared in virtue and comfort, the minds of those brave men, through whose exposure to hardship and danger the independence of the Empire has been preserved, is no less an act of sound policy than of gratitude."]

[309] {416} [As an instance of Scottish gallantry in the Peninsular War it is sufficient to cite the following list of "casualties" at the battle of Vittoria, June 21, 1813: "The battalion [the seventy-first Highland Light Infantry] suffered very severely, having had 1 field officer, 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 6 sergeants, 1 bugler, and 78 rank and file killed; 1 field officer, 3 captains, 7 lieutenants, 13 sergeants, 2 buglers, and 255 rank and file were wounded."—Historical Record of the 71st Highland Light Infantry, by Lieut. Henry J. T. Hildyard, 1876, p. 91.]

[310] [Compare Temora, bk. vii., "The king took his deathful spear, and struck the deeply-sounding shield.... Ghosts fled on every side, and rolled their gathered forms on the wind.—Thrice from the winding vale arose the voices of death."—Works of Ossian, 1765, ii. 160.]

[311] {417} [The last six lines are printed from the MS.]

[312] [Sir P. Parker fell in August, 1814, in his twenty-ninth year, whilst leading a party from his ship, the Menelaus, at the storming of the American camp near Baltimore. He was Byron's first cousin (his father, Christopher Parker (1761-1804), married Charlotte Augusta, daughter of Admiral the Hon. John Byron); but they had never met since boyhood. (See letter to Moore, Letters, 1899, iii. 150; see too Letters, i. 6, note 1.) The stanzas were included in Hebrew Melodies, 1815, and in the Ninth Edition of Childe Harold, 1818.]

[313] [Compare Tasso's sonnet—"Questa Tomba non e, ehe non e morto," etc. Rime Eroiche, Parte Seconda, No. 38, Opere di Torquato Tasso, Venice, 1736, vi. 169.]

[314] {419} [From an autograph MS. in the possession of Mr. Murray, now for the first time printed.]

[ne] {421} 1.

The red light glows, the wassail flows, Around the royal hall; And who, on earth, dare mar the mirth Of that high festival? The prophet dares—before thee glowsBelshazzar rise, nor dare despise The writing on the wall!

2.

Thy vice might raise th' avenging steel, Thy meanness shield thee from the blowAnd they who loathe thee proudly feel.—[MS.]

[nf] {422} The words of God along the wall.—[MS. erased.] The word of God—the graven wall.—[MS.]

[ng] Behold it written——.—[MS.]

[nh] ——thy sullied diadem.—[MS.]

[315] {423} [Byron gave these verses to Moore for Mr. Power of the Strand, who published them, with music by Sir John Stevenson. "I feel merry enough," he wrote, March 2, "to send you a sad song." And again, March 8, 1815, "An event—the death of poor Dorset—and the recollection of what I once felt, and ought to have felt now, but could not—set me pondering, and finally into the train of thought which you have in your hands." A year later, in another letter to Moore, he says, "I pique myself on these lines as being the truest, though the most melancholy, I ever wrote." (March 8, 1816.)—Letters, 1899, iii. 181, 183, 274.]

[ni] 'Tis not the blush alone that fades from Beauty's cheek.—[MS.]

[nj] {424} As ivy o'er the mouldering wall that heavily hath crept.—[MS.]

[316] [Compare—

"And oft we see gay ivy's wreath The tree with brilliant bloom o'erspread, When, part its leaves and gaze beneath, We find the hidden tree is dead." "To Anna," The Warrior's Return, etc., by Mrs. Opie, 1808, p. 144.]

[317] {425} [From an autograph MS. in the possession of Mr. Murray, now for the first time printed. The MS. is headed, in pencil, "Lines written on the Death of the Duke of Dorset, a College Friend of Lord Byron's, who was killed by a fall from his horse while hunting." It is endorsed, "Bought of Markham Thorpe, August 29, 1844." (For Duke of Dorset, see Poetical Works, 1898, i. 194, note 2; and Letters, 1899, in. 181, note 1.)]

[nk] {426} ——shall eternally be.—[MS. erased.]

[nl] Green be the turf——.—[MS.]

[318] [Compare "O lay me, ye that see the light, near some rock of my hills: let the thick hazels be around, let the rustling oaks be near. Green be the place of my rest."—"The War of Inis-Thona," Works of Ossin, 1765, i. 156.]

[nm] May its verdure be sweetest to see.—[MS.]

[nn] {427} Young flowers and a far-spreading tree May wave on the spot of thy rest; But nor cypress nor yew let it be.—[MS.]

[319] ["We need scarcely remind our readers that there are points in these spirited lines, with which our opinions do not accord; and, indeed, the author himself has told us that he rather adapted them to what he considered the speaker's feelings than his own."—Examiner, July 30, 1815.]

[no] The brightest and blackest are due to my fame.—[MS.]

[np] But thy destiny wills——.—[MS.]

[nq] {428} Oh for the thousands of Those who have perished By elements blasted, unvanquished by manThen the hope which till now I have fearlessly cherished, Had waved o'er thine eagles in Victory's van.—[MS.]

[320] ["All wept, but particularly Savary, and a Polish officer who had been exalted from the ranks by Buonaparte. He clung to his master's knees; wrote a letter to Lord Keith, entreating permission to accompany him, even in the most menial capacity, which could not be admitted."—Private Letter from Brussels.]

[nr] {429} ——that mute adieu.—[MS.]

[ns] Dear as they have seemed to me.—[MS.]

[nt] In the faith I pledged to thee.—[MS.]

[nu] Glory lightened from thy soul. Never did I grieve till now.—[MS.]

[321] ["At Waterloo one man was seen, whose left arm was shattered by a cannon-ball, to wrench it off with the other, and, throwing it up in the air, exclaimed to his comrades, 'Vive l'Empereur, jusqu'a la mort!' There were many other instances of the like: this you may, however, depend on as true."—Private Letter from Brussels.]

[nv] When the hearts of coward foes.—[MS.]

[nw] {430} ——to Friendship's prayer.—[MS.]

[nx] 'Twould not gather round his throne Half the hearts that still are thine.—[MS.]

[ny] Let me but partake his doom, Be it exile or the grave. or, All I ask is to abide All the perils he must brave, All my hope was to divide.—[MS.] or, Let me still partake his gloom, Late his soldier, now his slaveGrant me but to share the gloom Of his exile or his grave.—[MS.]

[322] {431} [These lines "are said to have been done into English verse by R. S. —— P. L. P. R., Master of the Royal Spanish Inqn., etc., etc."—Morning Chronicle, March 15, 1816. "The French have their Poems and Odes on the famous Battle of Waterloo, as well as ourselves. Nay, they seem to glory in the battle as the source of great events to come. We have received the following poetical version of a poem, the original of which is circulating in Paris, and which is ascribed (we know not with what justice) to the Muse of M. de Chateaubriand. If so, it may be inferred that in the poet's eye a new change is at hand, and he wishes to prove his secret indulgence of old principles by reference to this effusion."—Note, ibid.]

[323] [Charles Angelique Francois Huchet, Comte de La Bedoyere, born 1786, was in the retreat from Moscow, and in 1813 distinguished himself at the battles of Lutzen and Bautzen. On the return of Napoleon from Elba he was the first to bring him a regiment. He was promoted, and raised to the peerage, but being found in Paris after its occupation by the Allied army, he was tried by a court-martial, and suffered death August 15, 1815.]

[324] {432} See Rev. Chap. viii. V. 7, etc., "The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood," etc. V. 8, "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood," etc. V. 10, "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters." V. 11, "And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."

[325] Murat's remains are said to have been torn from the grave and burnt. ["Poor dear Murat, what an end ...! His white plume used to be a rallying point in battle, like Henry the Fourth's. He refused a confessor and a bandage; so would neither suffer his soul or body to be bandaged."—Letter to Moore, November 4. 1815, Letters, 1899, iii. 245. See, too, for Joachim Murat (born 1771), proclaimed King of Naples and the Two Sicilies, August, 1808, ibid., note 1.]

[326] {434} ["Write, Britain, write the moral lesson down." Scott's Field of Waterloo, Conclusion, stanza vi. line 3.]

[327] {435} ["Talking of politics, as Caleb Quotem says, pray look at the conclusion of my 'Ode on Waterloo,' written in the year 1815, and comparing it with the Duke de Berri's catastrophe in 1820, tell me if I have not as good a right to the character of 'Vates,' in both senses of the word, as Fitzgerald and Coleridge?—

'Crimson tears will follow yet;'

and have not they?"—Letter to Murray, April 24, 1820.

In the Preface to The Tyrant's Downfall, etc., 1814, W. L. Fitzgerald (see English Bards, etc., line 1, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 297, note 3) "begs leave to refer his reader to the dates of his Napoleonics ... to prove his legitimate title to the prophetical meaning of Vates" (Cent. Mag., July, 1814, vol. lxxxiv. p. 58). Coleridge claimed to have foretold the restoration of the Bourbons (see Biographia Literaria, cap. x.).]

[328] {436} ["The Friend who favoured us with the following lines, the poetical spirit of which wants no trumpet of ours, is aware that they imply more than an impartial observer of the late period might feel, and are written rather as by Frenchman than Englishman;—but certainly, neither he nor any lover of liberty can help feeling and regretting that in the latter time, at any rate, the symbol he speaks of was once more comparatively identified with the cause of Freedom."—Examiner. April 7, 1816.]

[329] {437} The tricolor.



THE SIEGE OF CORINTH

"Guns, Trumpets, Blunderbusses, Drums and Thunder."

Pope, Sat. i. 26.[330]



INTRODUCTION TO THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.

In a note to the "Advertisement" to the Siege of Corinth (vide post, p. 447), Byron puts it on record that during the years 1809-10 he had crossed the Isthmus of Corinth eight times, and in a letter to his mother, dated Patras, July 30, 1810, he alludes to a recent visit to the town of Corinth, in company with his friend Lord Sligo. (See, too, his letter to Coleridge, dated October 27, 1815, Letters, 1899, iii. 228.) It is probable that he revisited Corinth more than once in the autumn of 1810; and we may infer that, just as the place and its surroundings—the temple with its "two or three columns" (line 497), and the view across the bay from Acro-Corinth—are sketched from memory, so the story of the siege which took place in 1715 is based upon tales and legends which were preserved and repeated by the grandchildren of the besieged, and were taken down from their lips. There is point and meaning in the apparently insignificant line (stanza xxiv. line 765), "We have heard the hearers say" (see variant i. p. 483), which is slipped into the description of the final catastrophe. It bears witness to the fact that the Siege of Corinth is not a poetical expansion of a chapter in history, but a heightened reminiscence of local tradition.

History has, indeed, very little to say on the subject. The anonymous Compleat History of the Turks (London, 1719), which Byron quotes as an authority, is meagre and inaccurate. Hammer-Purgstall (Histoire de l'Empire Ottoman, 1839, xiii. 269), who gives as his authorities Girolamo Ferrari and Raschid, dismisses the siege in a few lines; and it was not till the publication of Finlay's History of Greece (vol. v., a.d. 1453-1821), in 1856, that the facts were known or reported. Finlay's newly discovered authority was a then unpublished MS. of a journal kept by Benjamin Brue, a connection of Voltaire's, who accompanied the Grand Vizier, Ali Cumurgi, as his interpreter, on the expedition into the Morea. According to Brue (Journal de la Campagne ... en 1715 ... Paris, 1870, p. 18), the siege began on June 28, 1715. A peremptory demand on the part of the Grand Vizier to surrender at discretion was answered by the Venetian proveditor-general, Giacomo Minetto, with calm but assured defiance ("Your menaces are useless, for we are prepared to resist all your attacks, and, with confidence in the assistance of God, we will preserve this fortress to the most serene Republic. God is with us"). Nevertheless, the Turks made good their threat, and on the 2nd of July the fortress capitulated. On the following day at noon, whilst a party of Janissaries, contrary to order, were looting and pillaging in all directions, the fortress was seen to be enveloped in smoke. How or why the explosion happened was never discovered, but the result was that some of the pillaging Janissaries perished, and that others, to avenge their death, which they attributed to Venetian treachery, put the garrison to the sword. It was believed at the time that Minetto was among the slain; but, as Brue afterwards discovered, he was secretly conveyed to Smyrna, and ultimately ransomed by the Dutch Consul.

The late Professor Koelbing (Siege of Corinth, 1893, p. xxvii.), in commenting on the sources of the poem, suggests, under reserve, that Byron may have derived the incident of Minetto's self-immolation from an historic source—the siege of Zsigetvar, in 1566, when a multitude of Turks perished from the explosion of a powder magazine which had been fired at the cost of his own life by the Hungarian commander Zrini.

It is, at least, equally probable that local patriotism was, in the first instance, responsible for the poetic colouring, and that Byron supplemented the meagre and uninteresting historic details which were at his disposal by "intimate knowledge" of the Corinthian version of the siege. (See Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Right Hon. Lord Byron, London, 1822, p. 222; and Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Lord Byron, by George Clinton, London, 1825, p. 284.)

It has been generally held that the Siege of Corinth was written in the second half of 1815 (Koelbing's Siege of Corinth, p. vii.). "It appears," says John Wright (Works, 1832, x. 100), "by the original MS., to have been begun in July, 1815;" and Moore (Life, p. 307), who probably relied on the same authority, speaks of "both the Siege of Corinth and Parisina having been produced but a short time before the Separation" (i.e. spring, 1816). Some words which Medwin (Conversations, 1824, p. 55) puts into Byron's mouth point to the same conclusion. Byron's own testimony, which is completely borne out by the MS. itself (dated J^y [i.e. January, not July] 31, 1815), is in direct conflict with these statements. In a note to stanza xix. lines 521-532 (vide post, pp. 471-473) he affirms that it "was not till after these lines were written" that he heard "that wild and singularly original and beautiful poem [Christabel] recited;" and in a letter to S. T. Coleridge, dated October 27, 1815 (Letters, 1899, iii. 228), he is careful to explain that "the enclosed extract from an unpublished poem (i.e. stanza xix. lines 521-532) ... was written before (not seeing your Christabelle [sic], for that you know I never did till this day), but before I heard Mr. S[cott] repeat it, which he did in June last, and this thing was begun in January, and more than half written before the Summer." The question of plagiarism will be discussed in an addendum to Byron's note on the lines in question; but, subject to the correction that it was, probably, at the end of May (see Lockhart's Memoir of the Life of Sir W. Scott, 1871, pp. 311-313), not in June, that Scott recited Christabel for Byron's benefit, the date of the composition of the poem must be determined by the evidence of the author himself.

The copy of the MS. of the Siege of Corinth was sent to Murray at the beginning (probably on the 2nd, the date of the copy) of November, and was placed in Gifford's hands about the same time (see letter to Murray, November 4, 1815, Letters, 1899, iii. 245; and Murray's undated letter on Gifford's "great delight" in the poem, and his "three critical remarks," Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 356). As with Lara, Byron began by insisting that the Siege should not be published separately, but slipped into a fourth volume of the collected works, and once again (possibly when he had at last made up his mind to accept a thousand guineas for his own requirements, and not for other beneficiaries—Godwin, Coleridge, or Maturin) yielded to his publisher's wishes and representations. At any rate, the Siege of Corinth and Parisina, which, says Moore, "during the month of January and part of February were in the hands of the printers" (Life, p. 300), were published in a single volume on February 7, 1816. The greater reviews were silent, but notices appeared in numerous periodicals; e.g. the Monthly Review, February, 1816, vol. lxxix. p. 196; the Eclectic Review, March, 1816, N.S. vol. v. p. 269; the European, May, 1816, vol. lxxix. p. 427; the Literary Panorama, June, 1816, N.S. vol. iv. p. 418; etc. Many of these reviews took occasion to pick out and hold up to ridicule the illogical sentences, the grammatical solecisms, and general imperfections of technique which marked and disfigured the Siege of Corinth. A passage in a letter which John Murray wrote to his brother-publisher, William Blackwood (Annals of a Publishing House, 1897, i. 53), refers to these cavillings, and suggests both an apology and a retaliation—

"Many who by 'numbers judge a poet's song' are so stupid as not to see the powerful effect of the poems, which is the great object of poetry, because they can pick out fifty careless or even bad lines. The words may be carelessly put together; but this is secondary. Many can write polished lines who will never reach the name of poet. You see it is all poetically conceived in Lord B.'s mind."

In such wise did Murray bear testimony to Byron's "splendid and imperishable excellence, which covers all his offences and outweighs all his defects—the excellence of sincerity and strength."

To

JOHN HOBHOUSE, ESQ.,

this poem is inscribed,

by his

FRIEND.

January 22nd, 1816.



ADVERTISEMENT

"The grand army of the Turks (in 1715), under the Prime Vizier, to open to themselves a way into the heart of the Morea, and to form the siege of Napoli di Romania, the most considerable place in all that country,[331] thought it best in the first place to attack Corinth, upon which they made several storms. The garrison being weakened, and the governor seeing it was impossible to hold out such a place against so mighty a force, thought it fit to beat a parley: but while they were treating about the articles, one of the magazines in the Turkish camp, wherein they had six hundred barrels of powder, blew up by accident, whereby six or seven hundred men were killed; which so enraged the infidels, that they would not grant any capitulation, but stormed the place with so much fury, that they took it, and put most of the garrison, with Signior Minotti, the governor, to the sword. The rest, with Signior or Antonio Bembo, Proveditor Extraordinary, were made prisoners of war."—A Compleat History of the Turks [London, 1719], iii. 151.



NOTE ON THE MS. OF THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.

The original MS. of the Siege of Corinth (now in the possession of Lord Glenesk) consists of sixteen folio and nine quarto sheets, and numbers fifty pages. Sheets 1-4 are folios, sheets 5-10 are quartos, sheets 11-22 are folios, and sheets 23-25 are quartos.

To judge from the occasional and disconnected pagination, this MS. consists of portions of two or more fair copies of a number of detached scraps written at different times, together with two or three of the original scraps which had not been transcribed.

The water-mark of the folios is, with one exception (No. 8, 1815), 1813; and of the quartos, with one exception (No. 8, 1814), 1812.

Lord Glenesk's MS. is dated January 31, 1815. Lady Byron's transcript, from which the Siege of Corinth was printed, and which is in Mr. Murray's possession, is dated November 2, 1815.



THE SIEGE OF CORINTH

In the year since Jesus died for men,[332] Eighteen hundred years and ten,[333] We were a gallant company, Riding o'er land, and sailing o'er sea. Oh! but we went merrily![334] We forded the river, and clomb the high hill, Never our steeds for a day stood still; Whether we lay in the cave or the shed, Our sleep fell soft on the hardest bed; Whether we couched in our rough capote,[335] 10 On the rougher plank of our gliding boat, Or stretched on the beach, or our saddles spread, As a pillow beneath the resting head, Fresh we woke upon the morrow: All our thoughts and words had scope, We had health, and we had hope, Toil and travel, but no sorrow. We were of all tongues and creeds;— Some were those who counted beads, Some of mosque, and some of church, 20 And some, or I mis-say, of neither; Yet through the wide world might ye search, Nor find a motlier crew nor blither.

But some are dead, and some are gone, And some are scattered and alone, And some are rebels on the hills[336] That look along Epirus' valleys, Where Freedom still at moments rallies, And pays in blood Oppression's ills; And some are in a far countree, 30 And some all restlessly at home; But never more, oh! never, we Shall meet to revel and to roam. But those hardy days flew cheerily![nz] And when they now fall drearily, My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main,[337] And bear my spirit back again Over the earth, and through the air, A wild bird and a wanderer. 'Tis this that ever wakes my strain, 40 And oft, too oft, implores again The few who may endure my lay,[oa] To follow me so far away. Stranger, wilt thou follow now, And sit with me on Acro-Corinth's brow?

I.[338]

Many a vanished year and age,[ob] And Tempest's breath, and Battle's rage, Have swept o'er Corinth; yet she stands, A fortress formed to Freedom's hands.[oc] The Whirlwind's wrath, the Earthquake's shock, 50 Have left untouched her hoary rock, The keystone of a land, which still, Though fall'n, looks proudly on that hill, The landmark to the double tide That purpling rolls on either side, As if their waters chafed to meet, Yet pause and crouch beneath her feet. But could the blood before her shed Since first Timoleon's brother bled,[339] Or baffled Persia's despot fled, 60 Arise from out the Earth which drank The stream of Slaughter as it sank, That sanguine Ocean would o'erflow Her isthmus idly spread below: Or could the bones of all the slain,[od] Who perished there, be piled again, That rival pyramid would rise More mountain-like, through those clear skies[oe] Than yon tower-capp'd Acropolis, Which seems the very clouds to kiss. 70

II.

On dun Cithaeron's ridge appears The gleam of twice ten thousand spears; And downward to the Isthmian plain, From shore to shore of either main,[of] The tent is pitched, the Crescent shines Along the Moslem's leaguering lines; And the dusk Spahi's bands[340] advance Beneath each bearded Pacha's glance; And far and wide as eye can reach[og] The turbaned cohorts throng the beach; 80 And there the Arab's camel kneels, And there his steed the Tartar wheels; The Turcoman hath left his herd,[341] The sabre round his loins to gird; And there the volleying thunders pour, Till waves grow smoother to the roar. The trench is dug, the cannon's breath Wings the far hissing globe of death;[342] Fast whirl the fragments from the wall, Which crumbles with the ponderous ball; 90 And from that wall the foe replies, O'er dusty plain and smoky skies, With fares that answer fast and well The summons of the Infidel.

III.

But near and nearest to the wall Of those who wish and work its fall, With deeper skill in War's black art, Than Othman's sons, and high of heart As any Chief that ever stood Triumphant in the fields of blood; 100 From post to post, and deed to deed, Fast spurring on his reeking steed, Where sallying ranks the trench assail, And make the foremost Moslem quail; Or where the battery, guarded well, Remains as yet impregnable, Alighting cheerly to inspire The soldier slackening in his fire; The first and freshest of the host Which Stamboul's Sultan there can boast, 110 To guide the follower o'er the field, To point the tube, the lance to wield, Or whirl around the bickering blade;— Was Alp, the Adrian renegade![343]

IV.

From Venice—once a race of worth His gentle Sires—he drew his birth; But late an exile from her shore,[oh] Against his countrymen he bore The arms they taught to bear; and now The turban girt his shaven brow. 120 Through many a change had Corinth passed With Greece to Venice' rule at last; And here, before her walls, with those To Greece and Venice equal foes, He stood a foe, with all the zeal Which young and fiery converts feel, Within whose heated bosom throngs The memory of a thousand wrongs. To him had Venice ceased to be Her ancient civic boast—"the Free;" 130 And in the palace of St. Mark Unnamed accusers in the dark Within the "Lion's mouth" had placed A charge against him uneffaced:[344] He fled in time, and saved his life, To waste his future years in strife,[oi] That taught his land how great her loss In him who triumphed o'er the Cross, 'Gainst which he reared the Crescent high, And battled to avenge or die. 140

V.

Coumourgi[345]—he whose closing scene Adorned the triumph of Eugene, When on Carlowitz' bloody plain, The last and mightiest of the slain, He sank, regretting not to die, But cursed the Christian's victory— Coumourgi—can his glory cease, That latest conqueror of Greece, Till Christian hands to Greece restore The freedom Venice gave of yore? 150 A hundred years have rolled away Since he refixed the Moslem's sway; And now he led the Mussulman, And gave the guidance of the van To Alp, who well repaid the trust By cities levelled with the dust; And proved, by many a deed of death, How firm his heart in novel faith.

VI.

The walls grew weak; and fast and hot Against them poured the ceaseless shot, 160 With unabating fury sent From battery to battlement; And thunder-like the pealing din[oj] Rose from each heated culverin; And here and there some crackling dome Was fired before the exploding bomb; And as the fabric sank beneath The shattering shell's volcanic breath, In red and wreathing columns flashed The flame, as loud the ruin crashed, 170 Or into countless meteors driven, Its earth-stars melted into heaven;[ok] Whose clouds that day grew doubly dun, Impervious to the hidden sun, With volumed smoke that slowly grew[ol] To one wide sky of sulphurous hue.

VII.

But not for vengeance, long delayed, Alone, did Alp, the renegade, The Moslem warriors sternly teach His skill to pierce the promised breach: 180 Within these walls a Maid was pent His hope would win, without consent Of that inexorable Sire, Whose heart refused him in its ire, When Alp, beneath his Christian name, Her virgin hand aspired to claim. In happier mood, and earlier time, While unimpeached for traitorous crime, Gayest in Gondola or Hall, He glittered through the Carnival; 190 And tuned the softest serenade That e'er on Adria's waters played At midnight to Italian maid.[om]

VIII.

And many deemed her heart was won; For sought by numbers, given to none, Had young Francesca's hand remained Still by the Church's bonds unchained: And when the Adriatic bore Lanciotto to the Paynim shore, Her wonted smiles were seen to fail, 200 And pensive waxed the maid and pale; More constant at confessional, More rare at masque and festival; Or seen at such, with downcast eyes, Which conquered hearts they ceased to prize: With listless look she seems to gaze: With humbler care her form arrays; Her voice less lively in the song; Her step, though light, less fleet among The pairs, on whom the Morning's glance 210 Breaks, yet unsated with the dance.

IX.

Sent by the State to guard the land, (Which, wrested from the Moslem's hand,[346] While Sobieski tamed his pride By Buda's wall and Danube's side,[on] The chiefs of Venice wrung away From Patra to Euboea's bay,) Minotti held in Corinth's towers[oo] The Doge's delegated powers, While yet the pitying eye of Peace 220 Smiled o'er her long forgotten Greece: And ere that faithless truce was broke Which freed her from the unchristian yoke, With him his gentle daughter came; Nor there, since Menelaus' dame Forsook her lord and land, to prove What woes await on lawless love, Had fairer form adorned the shore Than she, the matchless stranger, bore.[op]

X.

The wall is rent, the ruins yawn; 230 And, with to-morrow's earliest dawn, O'er the disjointed mass shall vault The foremost of the fierce assault. The bands are ranked—the chosen van Of Tartar and of Mussulman, The full of hope, misnamed "forlorn,"[347] Who hold the thought of death in scorn, And win their way with falchion's force, Or pave the path with many a corse, O'er which the following brave may rise, 240 Their stepping-stone—the last who dies![oq]

XI.

'Tis midnight: on the mountains brown[348] The cold, round moon shines deeply down; Blue roll the waters, blue the sky Spreads like an ocean hung on high, Bespangled with those isles of light,[or][349] So wildly, spiritually bright; Who ever gazed upon them shining And turned to earth without repining, Nor wished for wings to flee away, 250 And mix with their eternal ray? The waves on either shore lay there Calm, clear, and azure as the air; And scarce their foam the pebbles shook, But murmured meekly as the brook. The winds were pillowed on the waves; The banners drooped along their staves, And, as they fell around them furling, Above them shone the crescent curling; And that deep silence was unbroke, 260 Save where the watch his signal spoke, Save where the steed neighed oft and shrill, And echo answered from the hill, And the wide hum of that wild host Rustled like leaves from coast to coast, As rose the Muezzin's voice in air In midnight call to wonted prayer; It rose, that chanted mournful strain, Like some lone Spirit's o'er the plain: 'Twas musical, but sadly sweet, 270 Such as when winds and harp-strings meet, And take a long unmeasured tone, To mortal minstrelsy unknown.[os] It seemed to those within the wall A cry prophetic of their fall: It struck even the besieger's ear With something ominous and drear,[350] An undefined and sudden thrill, Which makes the heart a moment still, Then beat with quicker pulse, ashamed 280 Of that strange sense its silence framed; Such as a sudden passing-bell Wakes, though but for a stranger's knell.[ot]

XII.

The tent of Alp was on the shore; The sound was hushed, the prayer was o'er; The watch was set, the night-round made, All mandates issued and obeyed: 'Tis but another anxious night, His pains the morrow may requite With all Revenge and Love can pay, 290 In guerdon for their long delay. Few hours remain, and he hath need Of rest, to nerve for many a deed Of slaughter; but within his soul The thoughts like troubled waters roll.[ou] He stood alone among the host; Not his the loud fanatic boast To plant the Crescent o'er the Cross, Or risk a life with little loss, Secure in paradise to be 300 By Houris loved immortally: Nor his, what burning patriots feel, The stern exaltedness of zeal, Profuse of blood, untired in toil, When battling on the parent soil. He stood alone—a renegade Against the country he betrayed; He stood alone amidst his band, Without a trusted heart or hand: They followed him, for he was brave, 310 And great the spoil he got and gave; They crouched to him, for he had skill To warp and wield the vulgar will:[ov] But still his Christian origin With them was little less than sin. They envied even the faithless fame He earned beneath a Moslem name; Since he, their mightiest chief, had been In youth a bitter Nazarene. They did not know how Pride can stoop, 320 When baffled feelings withering droop; They did not know how Hate can burn In hearts once changed from soft to stern; Nor all the false and fatal zeal The convert of Revenge can feel. He ruled them—man may rule the worst, By ever daring to be first: So lions o'er the jackals sway; The jackal points, he fells the prey,[ow][351] Then on the vulgar, yelling, press, 330 To gorge the relics of success.

XIII.

His head grows fevered, and his pulse The quick successive throbs convulse; In vain from side to side he throws His form, in courtship of repose;[ox] Or if he dozed, a sound, a start Awoke him with a sunken heart. The turban on his hot brow pressed, The mail weighed lead-like on his breast, Though oft and long beneath its weight 340 Upon his eyes had slumber sate, Without or couch or canopy, Except a rougher field and sky[oy] Than now might yield a warrior's bed, Than now along the heaven was spread. He could not rest, he could not stay Within his tent to wait for day,[oz] But walked him forth along the sand, Where thousand sleepers strewed the strand. What pillowed them? and why should he 350 More wakeful than the humblest be, Since more their peril, worse their toil? And yet they fearless dream of spoil; While he alone, where thousands passed A night of sleep, perchance their last, In sickly vigil wandered on, And envied all he gazed upon.

XIV.

He felt his soul become more light Beneath the freshness of the night. Cool was the silent sky, though calm, 360 And bathed his brow with airy balm: Behind, the camp—before him lay, In many a winding creek and bay, Lepanto's gulf; and, on the brow Of Delphi's hill, unshaken snow,[pa] High and eternal, such as shone Through thousand summers brightly gone, Along the gulf, the mount, the clime; It will not melt, like man, to time: Tyrant and slave are swept away, 370 Less formed to wear before the ray; But that white veil, the lightest, frailest,[352] Which on the mighty mount thou hailest, While tower and tree are torn and rent, Shines o'er its craggy battlement; In form a peak, in height a cloud, In texture like a hovering shroud, Thus high by parting Freedom spread, As from her fond abode she fled, And lingered on the spot, where long 380 Her prophet spirit spake in song.[pb] Oh! still her step at moments falters O'er withered fields, and ruined altars, And fain would wake, in souls too broken, By pointing to each glorious token: But vain her voice, till better days Dawn in those yet remembered rays, Which shone upon the Persian flying, And saw the Spartan smile in dying.

XV.

Not mindless of these mighty times 390 Was Alp, despite his flight and crimes; And through this night, as on he wandered,[pc] And o'er the past and present pondered, And thought upon the glorious dead Who there in better cause had bled, He felt how faint and feebly dim[pd] The fame that could accrue to him, Who cheered the band, and waved the sword,[pe] A traitor in a turbaned horde; And led them to the lawless siege, 400 Whose best success were sacrilege. Not so had those his fancy numbered,[353] The chiefs whose dust around him slumbered; Their phalanx marshalled on the plain, Whose bulwarks were not then in vain. They fell devoted, but undying; The very gale their names seemed sighing; The waters murmured of their name; The woods were peopled with their fame; The silent pillar, lone and grey, 410 Claimed kindred with their sacred clay; Their spirits wrapped the dusky mountain, Their memory sparkled o'er the fountain;[pf] The meanest rill, the mightiest river Rolled mingling with their fame for ever. Despite of every yoke she bears, That land is Glory's still and theirs![pg] 'Tis still a watch-word to the earth: When man would do a deed of worth He points to Greece, and turns to tread, 420 So sanctioned, on the tyrant's head: He looks to her, and rushes on Where life is lost, or Freedom won.[ph]

XVI.

Still by the shore Alp mutely mused, And wooed the freshness Night diffused. There shrinks no ebb in that tideless sea,[354] Which changeless rolls eternally; So that wildest of waves, in their angriest mood,[pi] Scarce break on the bounds of the land for a rood; And the powerless moon beholds them flow, 430 Heedless if she come or go: Calm or high, in main or bay, On their course she hath no sway. The rock unworn its base doth bare, And looks o'er the surf, but it comes not there; And the fringe of the foam may be seen below, On the line that it left long ages ago: A smooth short space of yellow sand[pj][355] Between it and the greener land.

He wandered on along the beach, 440 Till within the range of a carbine's reach Of the leaguered wall; but they saw him not, Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot?[pk] Did traitors lurk in the Christians' hold? Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts waxed cold? I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall[pl] There flashed no fire, and there hissed no ball, Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown, That flanked the seaward gate of the town; Though he heard the sound, and could almost tell 450 The sullen words of the sentinel, As his measured step on the stone below Clanked, as he paced it to and fro; And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall Hold o'er the dead their Carnival,[356] Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb; They were too busy to bark at him! From a Tartar's skull they had stripped the flesh, As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh; And their white tusks crunched o'er the whiter skull,[357] 460 As it slipped through their jaws, when their edge grew dull, As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead, When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed; So well had they broken a lingering fast With those who had fallen for that night's repast. And Alp knew, by the turbans that rolled on the sand, The foremost of these were the best of his band: Crimson and green were the shawls of their wear, And each scalp had a single long tuft of hair,[358] All the rest was shaven and bare. 470 The scalps were in the wild dog's maw, The hair was tangled round his jaw: But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf, There sat a vulture flapping a wolf, Who had stolen from the hills, but kept away, Scared by the dogs, from the human prey; But he seized on his share of a steed that lay, Picked by the birds, on the sands of the bay.

XVII.

Alp turned him from the sickening sight: Never had shaken his nerves in fight; 480 But he better could brook to behold the dying, Deep in the tide of their warm blood lying,[pm][359] Scorched with the death-thirst, and writhing in vain, Than the perishing dead who are past all pain.[pn][360] There is something of pride in the perilous hour, Whate'er be the shape in which Death may lower; For Fame is there to say who bleeds, And Honour's eye on daring deeds![361] But when all is past, it is humbling to tread[po] O'er the weltering field of the tombless dead,[362] 490 And see worms of the earth, and fowls of the air, Beasts of the forest, all gathering there; All regarding man as their prey, All rejoicing in his decay.[pp]

XVIII.

There is a temple in ruin stands, Fashioned by long forgotten hands; Two or three columns, and many a stone, Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown! Out upon Time! it will leave no more Of the things to come than the things before![pq][363] 500 Out upon Time! who for ever will leave But enough of the past for the future to grieve O'er that which hath been, and o'er that which must be: What we have seen, our sons shall see; Remnants of things that have passed away, Fragments of stone, reared by creatures of clay![pr]

XIX.

He sate him down at a pillar's base,[364] And passed his hand athwart his face; Like one in dreary musing mood, Declining was his attitude; 510 His head was drooping on his breast, Fevered, throbbing, and oppressed; And o'er his brow, so downward bent, Oft his beating fingers went, Hurriedly, as you may see Your own run over the ivory key, Ere the measured tone is taken By the chords you would awaken. There he sate all heavily, As he heard the night-wind sigh. 520 Was it the wind through some hollow stone,[ps] Sent that soft and tender moan?[365] He lifted his head, and he looked on the sea, But it was unrippled as glass may be; He looked on the long grass—it waved not a blade; How was that gentle sound conveyed? He looked to the banners—each flag lay still, So did the leaves on Cithaeron's hill, And he felt not a breath come over his cheek; What did that sudden sound bespeak? 530 He turned to the left—is he sure of sight? There sate a lady, youthful and bright![pt][366]

XX.

He started up with more of fear Than if an armed foe were near. "God of my fathers! what is here? Who art thou? and wherefore sent So near a hostile armament?" His trembling hands refused to sign The cross he deemed no more divine: He had resumed it in that hour,[pu] 540 But Conscience wrung away the power. He gazed, he saw; he knew the face Of beauty, and the form of grace; It was Francesca by his side, The maid who might have been his bride![pv]

The rose was yet upon her cheek, But mellowed with a tenderer streak: Where was the play of her soft lips fled? Gone was the smile that enlivened their red. The Ocean's calm within their view,[pw] 550 Beside her eye had less of blue; But like that cold wave it stood still, And its glance, though clear, was chill.[367] Around her form a thin robe twining, Nought concealed her bosom shining; Through the parting of her hair, Floating darkly downward there, Her rounded arm showed white and bare: And ere yet she made reply, Once she raised her hand on high; 560 It was so wan, and transparent of hue, You might have seen the moon shine through.

XXI.

"I come from my rest to him I love best, That I may be happy, and he may be blessed. I have passed the guards, the gate, the wall; Sought thee in safety through foes and all. 'Tis said the lion will turn and flee[368] From a maid in the pride of her purity; And the Power on high, that can shield the good Thus from the tyrant of the wood, 570 Hath extended its mercy to guard me as well From the hands of the leaguering Infidel. I come—and if I come in vain, Never, oh never, we meet again! Thou hast done a fearful deed In falling away from thy fathers' creed: But dash that turban to earth, and sign The sign of the cross, and for ever be mine; Wring the black drop from thy heart, And to-morrow unites us no more to part." 580

"And where should our bridal couch be spread? In the midst of the dying and the dead? For to-morrow we give to the slaughter and flame The sons and the shrines of the Christian name. None, save thou and thine, I've sworn, Shall be left upon the morn: But thee will I bear to a lovely spot, Where our hands shall be joined, and our sorrow forgot. There thou yet shall be my bride, When once again I've quelled the pride 590 Of Venice; and her hated race Have felt the arm they would debase Scourge, with a whip of scorpions, those Whom Vice and Envy made my foes."

Upon his hand she laid her own— Light was the touch, but it thrilled to the bone, And shot a chillness to his heart,[px] Which fixed him beyond the power to start. Though slight was that grasp so mortal cold, He could not loose him from its hold; 600 But never did clasp of one so dear Strike on the pulse with such feeling of fear, As those thin fingers, long and white, Froze through his blood by their touch that night. The feverish glow of his brow was gone, And his heart sank so still that it felt like stone, As he looked on the face, and beheld its hue,[py] So deeply changed from what he knew: Fair but faint—without the ray Of mind, that made each feature play 610 Like sparkling waves on a sunny day; And her motionless lips lay still as death, And her words came forth without her breath, And there rose not a heave o'er her bosom's swell,[pz] And there seemed not a pulse in her veins to dwell. Though her eye shone out, yet the lids were fixed,[369] And the glance that it gave was wild and unmixed With aught of change, as the eyes may seem Of the restless who walk in a troubled dream; Like the figures on arras, that gloomily glare, 620 Stirred by the breath of the wintry air[qa] So seen by the dying lamp's fitful light,[qb] Lifeless, but life-like, and awful to sight; As they seem, through the dimness, about to come down From the shadowy wall where their images frown; Fearfully flitting to and fro, As the gusts on the tapestry come and go.[370]

"If not for love of me be given Thus much, then, for the love of Heaven,— Again I say—that turban tear 630 From off thy faithless brow, and swear Thine injured country's sons to spare, Or thou art lost; and never shalt see— Not earth—that's past—but Heaven or me. If this thou dost accord, albeit A heavy doom' tis thine to meet, That doom shall half absolve thy sin, And Mercy's gate may receive thee within:[371] But pause one moment more, and take The curse of Him thou didst forsake; 640 And look once more to Heaven, and see Its love for ever shut from thee. There is a light cloud by the moon—[372] 'Tis passing, and will pass full soon— If, by the time its vapoury sail Hath ceased her shaded orb to veil, Thy heart within thee is not changed, Then God and man are both avenged; Dark will thy doom be, darker still Thine immortality of ill." 650

Alp looked to heaven, and saw on high The sign she spake of in the sky; But his heart was swollen, and turned aside, By deep interminable pride.[qc] This first false passion of his breast Rolled like a torrent o'er the rest. He sue for mercy! He dismayed By wild words of a timid maid! He, wronged by Venice, vow to save Her sons, devoted to the grave! 660 No—though that cloud were thunder's worst, And charged to crush him—let it burst!

He looked upon it earnestly, Without an accent of reply; He watched it passing; it is flown: Full on his eye the clear moon shone, And thus he spake—"Whate'er my fate, I am no changeling—'tis too late: The reed in storms may bow and quiver, Then rise again; the tree must shiver. 670 What Venice made me, I must be, Her foe in all, save love to thee: But thou art safe: oh, fly with me!" He turned, but she is gone! Nothing is there but the column stone. Hath she sunk in the earth, or melted in air? He saw not—he knew not—but nothing is there.

XXII.

The night is past, and shines the sun As if that morn were a jocund one.[373] Lightly and brightly breaks away 680 The Morning from her mantle grey,[374] And the Noon will look on a sultry day.[375] Hark to the trump, and the drum, And the mournful sound of the barbarous horn, And the flap of the banners, that flit as they're borne, And the neigh of the steed, and the multitude's hum, And the clash, and the shout, "They come! they come!" The horsetails[376] are plucked from the ground, and the sword From its sheath; and they form, and but wait for the word. Tartar, and Spahi, and Turcoman, 690 Strike your tents, and throng to the van; Mount ye, spur ye, skirr the plain,[377] That the fugitive may flee in vain, When he breaks from the town; and none escape, Aged or young, in the Christian shape; While your fellows on foot, in a fiery mass, Bloodstain the breach through which they pass.[378] The steeds are all bridled, and snort to the rein; Curved is each neck, and flowing each mane; White is the foam of their champ on the bit; 700 The spears are uplifted; the matches are lit; The cannon are pointed, and ready to roar, And crush the wall they have crumbled before:[379] Forms in his phalanx each Janizar; Alp at their head; his right arm is bare, So is the blade of his scimitar; The Khan and the Pachas are all at their post; The Vizier himself at the head of the host. When the culverin's signal is fired, then on; Leave not in Corinth a living one— 710 A priest at her altars, a chief in her halls, A hearth in her mansions, a stone on her walls. God and the prophet—Alla Hu![380] Up to the skies with that wild halloo! "There the breach lies for passage, the ladder to scale; And your hands on your sabres, and how should ye fail? He who first downs with the red cross may crave[381] His heart's dearest wish; let him ask it, and have!" Thus uttered Coumourgi, the dauntless Vizier;[382] The reply was the brandish of sabre and spear, 720 And the shout of fierce thousands in joyous ire:— Silence—hark to the signal—fire!

XXIII.

As the wolves, that headlong go On the stately buffalo, Though with fiery eyes, and angry roar, And hoofs that stamp, and horns that gore, He tramples on earth, or tosses on high The foremost, who rush on his strength but to die Thus against the wall they went, Thus the first were backward bent;[383] 730 Many a bosom, sheathed in brass, Strewed the earth like broken glass,[qd] Shivered by the shot, that tore The ground whereon they moved no more: Even as they fell, in files they lay, Like the mower's grass at the close of day,[qe] When his work is done on the levelled plain; Such was the fall of the foremost slain.[384]

XXIV.

As the spring-tides, with heavy plash, From the cliffs invading dash 740 Huge fragments, sapped by the ceaseless flow, Till white and thundering down they go, Like the avalanche's snow On the Alpine vales below; Thus at length, outbreathed and worn, Corinth's sons were downward borne By the long and oft renewed Charge of the Moslem multitude. In firmness they stood, and in masses they fell, Heaped by the host of the Infidel, 750 Hand to hand, and foot to foot: Nothing there, save Death, was mute;[385] Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry For quarter, or for victory, Mingle there with the volleying thunder, Which makes the distant cities wonder How the sounding battle goes, If with them, or for their foes; If they must mourn, or may rejoice In that annihilating voice, 760 Which pierces the deep hills through and through With an echo dread and new: You might have heard it, on that day, O'er Salamis and Megara; (We have heard the hearers say,)[qf] Even unto Piraeus' bay.

XXV.

From the point of encountering blades to the hilt, Sabres and swords with blood were gilt;[386] But the rampart is won, and the spoil begun, And all but the after carnage done. 770 Shriller shrieks now mingling come From within the plundered dome: Hark to the haste of flying feet, That splash in the blood of the slippery street; But here and there, where 'vantage ground Against the foe may still be found, Desperate groups, of twelve or ten, Make a pause, and turn again— With banded backs against the wall, Fiercely stand, or fighting fall. 780 There stood an old man[387]—his hairs were white, But his veteran arm was full of might: So gallantly bore he the brunt of the fray, The dead before him, on that day, In a semicircle lay; Still he combated unwounded, Though retreating, unsurrounded. Many a scar of former fight Lurked[388] beneath his corslet bright; But of every wound his body bore, 790 Each and all had been ta'en before: Though aged, he was so iron of limb, Few of our youth could cope with him, And the foes, whom he singly kept at bay, Outnumbered his thin hairs[389] of silver grey. From right to left his sabre swept: Many an Othman mother wept Sons that were unborn, when dipped[390] His weapon first in Moslem gore, Ere his years could count a score. 800 Of all he might have been the sire[391] Who fell that day beneath his ire: For, sonless left long years ago, His wrath made many a childless foe; And since the day, when in the strait[392] His only boy had met his fate, His parent's iron hand did doom More than a human hecatomb.[393] If shades by carnage be appeased, Patroclus' spirit less was pleased 810 Than his, Minotti's son, who died Where Asia's bounds and ours divide. Buried he lay, where thousands before For thousands of years were inhumed on the shore; What of them is left, to tell Where they lie, and how they fell? Not a stone on their turf, nor a bone in their graves; But they live in the verse that immortally saves.[394]

XXVI.

Hark to the Allah shout![395] a band Of the Mussulman bravest and best is at hand; 820 Their leader's nervous arm is bare, Swifter to smite, and never to spare— Unclothed to the shoulder it waves them on; Thus in the fight is he ever known: Others a gaudier garb may show, To tempt the spoil of the greedy foe; Many a hand's on a richer hilt, But none on a steel more ruddily gilt; Many a loftier turban may wear,— Alp is but known by the white arm bare; 830 Look through the thick of the fight,'tis there! There is not a standard on that shore So well advanced the ranks before; There is not a banner in Moslem war Will lure the Delhis half so far; It glances like a falling star! Where'er that mighty arm is seen, The bravest be, or late have been;[396] There the craven cries for quarter Vainly to the vengeful Tartar; 840 Or the hero, silent lying, Scorns to yield a groan in dying; Mustering his last feeble blow 'Gainst the nearest levelled foe, Though faint beneath the mutual wound, Grappling on the gory ground.

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