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ELEGIAC STANZAS ON THE DEATH OF SIR PETER PARKER, BART.1
There is a tear for all that die,
But nations swell the funeral cry.
For them is Sorrow's purest sigh
In vain their bones unburied lie,
A tomb is theirs on every page,
The present hours, the future age,
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.
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?
And, gallant Parker I thus enshrined Thy life, thy fall, thy fame shall
And early valour, glowing, find
1 [Sir P. Parker fell in August. 1814, in his twenty-ninth year, whilst leading a party from his ship, the Mendaus, 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); hut they had never met since boyhood. 1
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.
Where shall they turn to mourn thee less?
When cease to hear thy cherished
Time cannot teach forgetfulness,
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].
The Night came on the Waters — all
On Earth — but Rage on Ocean's
troubled Heart. The Waves arose and rolled beneath
The Sailors gazed upon their shivered
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
There is no vestige, in the Dawning
Of those that shrieked thro' shadows of the Night.
The Bark — the Crew — the very
Wreck is gone, Marred — mutilated — traceless — all
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
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,
N'or e'en the pawing of the wilder Brute;
And niggard vegetation will not smile, All sunless on that solitary Isle.
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
Houseless and homeless — bare both
breast and limb? Cut off from all but Memory he
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
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?
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
"Thou gazest in mute wonder — more
"Thy marvel when thou knowest mine and me.
"But come — The bark that bears us
hence shall find "Her Haven, soon, despite the warning
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
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. [First published, 1900.]
Belshazzar! from the banquet turn,
Nor in thy sensual fulness fall; Behold 1 while yet before thee burn
The graven words, the glowing wall: 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?
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,
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!
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.]
'Tis not on Youth's smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast,
But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere Youth itself be past.
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.
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.
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, All green and wildly fresh without, but
worn and grey beneath.
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.]
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 1 once felt, and ought to have felt now, but could not — set mc pondering, and finally into the train of thought which you hive in your hands."]
ON THE DEATH OF THE DUKE OF DORSET.1
I Heard thy fate without a tear,
Thy loss with scarce a sigh;
Too loved of all to die.
Its tears refuse to start;
Falls dreary on my heart.
Yes. dull and heavy, one by one,
They sink and turn to care,
Yet dropping harden there:
Than feelings sunk remain, Which coldly fixed regard the past,
But never melt again. [First published, Works, Paris, 1826, p. 716.]
STANZAS FOR MUSIC.
Bright be the place of thy soul
No lovelier spirit than thine
In the orbs of the blessed to shine. On earth thou wert all but divine,
As thy soul shall immortally be; And our sorrow may cease to repine
When we know that thy God is with thee.
Light lie the turf of thy tomb!
May its verdure like emeralds be! There should not be the shadow of gloom
In aught that reminds us of thee. Young flowers and an evergreen tree May spring from the spot of thy rest:
1 [From an autograph of MS. in the possession of Mr Murray. The MS. is headed, in penul, "Lines written on the Death of the Duke of Dorset, a College Friend of Lord Byron's, who vas killed by a fall from his horse while hunting."]
But nor cypress nor yew let us see; For why should we mourn for the blest?
[First published, Examiner, June 4, 1815.]
[FROM THE FRENCH.]
Farewei.1, 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
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
Farewell to thee, France I when thy
diadem crowned me, I made thee the gem and the wonder of
But thy weakness decrees I should leave
as I found thee, Decayed in thy glory, and sunk in thy
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
Farewell to thee, France I — but when
Liberty rallies Once more in thy regions, remember me
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
July 25, 1815. London. [First published, Examiner, July 30,
FROM THE FRENCH.1
Must thou go, my glorious Chief,
Severed from thy faithful few? Who can tell thy warrior's grief,
Maddening o'er that long adieu? Woman's love, and Friendship's zeal,
Dear as both have been to me — What are they to all I feel,
With a soldier's faith for thee?
Idol of the soldier's soul!
First in fight, but mightiest now: 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.2
Would that I were cold with those,
1 ["AH 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.]
'["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 PEmncreur, jusqu'a la mort!' There were many other instances of the like: this you may, however, dejiend on as true." — Private Letter from Brussels.]
When the doubts of coward foes
Dreading each should set thee free I
All their chains were light to me,
Would the sycophants of him
Now so deaf to duty's prayer, Wear his borrowed glories dim,
In his native darkness share?
All thou calmly dost resign,
Hearts like those which still are thine?
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
Fyvery peril he must brave; Sharing by the hero's side
His fall — his exile — and his grave. [First published, Poems, 1816.]
ODE FROM THE FRENCH.
We do not curse thee, Waterloo! Though Freedom's blood thy plain bedew;
There 'twas shed, but is not sunk —
Contains the "bravest of the brave." 1
'* [Charles Angllique Francois Huchet, Comte de La Itedoycre, born 1786, was in the retreat from Moscow, and, in 1813, distinguished himself at the battles of Lutzin and Bautzen. On the return of Napoleon from Elba he was the first to bring him a regiment. He was raised to the peerage, but being found in Paris bv the Allied army, he was tried by a court-martial, and suffered death August ic. 1815.)
■ [Michel Ney. (Compare Don Juan. Canto IX. stauza i. line 8.)]