« FöregåendeFortsätt »
CLXXV. But I forget. — My Pilgrim's shrine is won, And he and I must part, — so let it be — His task and mine alike are nearly done; Yet once more let us look upon the sea; The midland ocean breaks on him and me, And from the Alban Mount we now behold Our friend of youth, that Ocean, which when we
Beheld it last by Calpe's rock unfold Those waves, we follow'd on till the dark Euxine roll'd
CLXXX. His steps are not upon thy paths, - thy fields Are not a spoil for him, thou dost arise And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields For earth's destruction thou dost all despise, Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies, And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray And howling, to his Gods, where haply lies
His petty hope in some near port or bay, And dashest him again to earth : —there let him lay.
CLXXVI. Upon the blue Symplegades : long years — Long, though not very many, since have done Their work on both; some suffering and some tears Have left us nearly where we had begun : Yet not in vain our mortal race hath run, We have had our reward - and it is here; That we can yet feel gladden'd by the sun,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar. of The Grove. Nemi is but an evening's ride from the comfortable inn of Albano.
3 The whole declivity of the Alban hill is of unrivalled beauty, and from the content on the highest point, which has succeeded to the temple of the Latian Jupiter, the prospect embraces all the objects alluded to in this stanza; the Medi. terranean ; the whole scene of the latter half of the Eneid, and the coast from beyond the mouth of the Tiber to the headland of Circæum and the Cape of Terracina - See Appendix, “ Historical Notcs,” No. xxxi.
| Mary died on the scaffold : Elizabeth of a broken heart; Charles V. a hermit; Louis XIV. a bankrupt in means and glory ; Cromwell of anxiety; and, "the greatest is behind," Napoleon lives a prisoner. To these sovereigns a long but superfluous list might be added of names equally illustrious and unhappy.
2 The village of Nemi was near the Arician retreat of Egeria, and, from the shades which embosomed the temple of Diana, has preserved to this day its distinctive appellation
[When Lord Byron wrote this stanza, he had, no doubt, the following passage in Boswell's Johnson floating on his mind:-“ Dining one day with General Paoli, and talking of his projected journey to Italy, - A man,' said Johnson,
who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an interiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of all travelling is to see the shores of the Merliterranean. On those shores were the four great empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. All our religion, almost all our law, almost all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come to us from the shores of the Mediterranean.' The General observed, that The Mediterranean' would be a noble subject for a poem." - Life of Johnson, vol. v. p. 145. ed. 1835.)
* (" This passage would, perhaps, be read without emotion, if we did not know that Lord Byron was here describing his actual feelings and habits, and that this was an unaitected picture of his propensities and amusements even from child. hood, - when he listened to the roar, and watched the bursts of the northern ocean on the tempestuous shores of Aberdeenshire. It was a fearful and violent change at the age of ten years to be separated from this congenial solitude, - this independence so suited to his haughty and contemplative spirit, - this rude grandeur of nature, - and thrown among the mere worldly-minded and selfish ferocity, the affected polish and repelling coxcombry, of a great public school. How many thousand times did the moody, şullen, and indig. pant boy wish himself back to the keen air and boisterous billows that broke loncly upou the simple and soul-invigor. ating haunts of his childhood. How did he prefer some ghost-story; some tale of second-sight; some relation of Robin Hood's feats; some harrowing narrative of buccancer. exploits, to all of Horace, and Virgil, and Homer, that was dinned into his repulsive spirit ! To the shock of this change
is, I suspect, to be traced much of the eccentricity of Lord Byron's future life. This fourth Canto is the fruit of a mind! which had stored itself with great care and toil, and had digested with profound reflection and intense vigour what it had learned: the sentiments are not such as lie on the surface, but could only be awakened by long meditation. Whoever reads it, and is not impressed with the many grand virtues as well as gigantic powers of the mind that wrote it, seems to me to afford a proof both of insensibility of heart, and great stupidity of intellect." - Sir E. BRYDGES.]
3 [" It was a thought worthy of the great spirit of Byron, after exhibiting to us his Pilgrim amidst all the most striking scenes of earthly grandeur and earthly decay, - after teaching us, like him, to sicken over the mutability, and vanity, and emptiness of human greatness, to conduct him and us at last to the borders of “the Great Deep." It is there that we may perceive an image of the awful and unchangeable abyss of eternity, into whose bosom so much has sunk, and ail shall one day sink, — of that eternity wherein the scorn and the contempt of man, and the melancholy of great, and the fretting of little minds, shall be at rest for ever. No one, but a true poet of man and of nature, would have dared to frame such a termination for such a Pilgrimage. The image of the wan. derer may well be associated, for a time, with the rock of Calpe, the shattered temples of Athens, or the gigantic fragments of Rome; but when we wish to think of this dark personification as of a thing which is, where can we so well imagine him to have his daily haunt as by the roaring of tbe waves ?
It was thus that Homer represerted Achilles in his moments of ungovernable and inconsolable grief for the loss of Patroclus. It was thus he chose to depict the paternal despair of Chriseus
Βή δ' ακίων ταρά θινα πολυφλοίσσιο θαλάσσης." - Wilson.)
No breath of air to break the wave
The tale which these disjointed fragments present, is founded upon circumstances now less common in the East than fornierly ; either becarise the ladies are niore circumspect than in the “olden time," or because the Christians have better fortune, or less enterprise. The story, when entire, contained the adventures of a female slave, who was thrown, in the Mussulman manner, into the sea for infidelity, and avenged by a young Venetian, her lover, at the time the Seven Islands were possessed by the Republic of Venice, and soon after the Arnauts were beaten back from the Morea, which they had ravaged for some time subsequent to the Russian invasion. The desertion of the Mainotes, on being refused the plunder of Misitra, led to the abandonment of that enterprise, and to the desolation of the Morea, during which the cruelty exercised on all sides was unparaveled even in the annals of the faithful. 2
Fair clime +! where every season smiles Benignant o'er those blessed isles, Which, seen from far Colonna's height, Make glad the heart that hails the sight, And lend to loneliness delight. There mildly dimpling, Ocean's cheek Reflects the tints of many a peak Caught by the laughing tides that lave These Edens of the eastern wave :
I(The “ Glaour" was published in May 1813, and abundantly sustained the impression created by the two first cantos of Childe Harold. It is obvious that in this, the first of his romantic narratives, Lord Byron's versification reflects the admiration he always avowed for Mr. Coleridge's “ Christ. abel,” - the irregular rhythm of which had already been adopted in the “ Lay of the Last Minstrel." The fragmentary style of the composition was suggested by the then new and popular “ Columbus" of Mr. Rogers. As to the subject, it was not merely by recent travel that the author had familiarised himself'with Turkish history. “Old Knolles," he said at Missolonghi, a few weeks before his death, "was one of the first books that gave me pleasure when a child ; and I believe it had much Influence on my future wishes to visit the Levant, and gare, perhaps, the oriental colouring which is observed in my poetry.'
In the margin of his copy of Mr. D'Israeli's Essay on the Literary Character, we find the following note : -" Knolles, Cantemir, De Tott, Lady M.W. Montague, Hawkins's translation from Vignot's History of the Turks, the Arabian Nights - all travels or histories, or books upon the East, I could meet with, I had read, as well as Ricaut, before I was ten years old.")
3 [An event, in which Lord Byron was personally concerned, undoubtedly supplied the groundwork of this talo ; but for the story, so circumstantially put forth, of his having himself been the lover of this female slare, there is no found ation. The girl whose life the poet saved at Athens was not,
we are assured by Sir John IIobhouse, an object of his Lord. ship's attachment, but of that of his Turkish servant. For the Marquis of Sligo's account of the attair, see Moore's Notices.]
3 A tomb above the rocks on the promontory, by some supposed the sepulchre of Themistocles. (“There are." says Cumberland, in his Observer, "a few lines by Plato, upon the tomb of Themistocles, which have a turn of elegant and pathetic simplicity in them, that deserves a better translation than I can give :
• By the sea's margin, on the watery strand,
Athens shall conquer with thy tomb in sight.' ") * (or the beautiful Now of Byron's fancy," says Moore, "when its sources were once opened on any subject, the Giaour atfords one of the inost remarkable instances : this poem having accumulated under his hand, both in printing and through successire editions, till from four hundred lines, of which it consisted in its first copy, it at present amounts to fourteen hundred. The plan, indeed, which he had adopted, of a series of fragments, a set of orient pearls at random strung' -left him free to introduce, without reference to more than the general complexion of his story, whatever sen.
But springs as to preclude his care,
And if at times a transient breeze
The maid for whom his melody,
His thousand songs are heard on high, Blooms blushing to her lover's tale : His queen, the garden queen, his Rose, Dubent by winds, unchill’d by snows, Far from the winters of the west, By every breeze and season blest, Returns the sweets by nature given In softest incense back to heaven; And grateful yields that smiling sky Her fairest hue and fragrant sigh. And many a summer flower is there, And many a shade that love might share, And many a grotto, meant for rest, That holds the pirate for a guest; Whose bark in sheltering cove below Lurks for the passing peaceful prow, Till the gay mariner's guitar? Is heard, and seen the evening star ; Then stealing with the muffled oar, Far shaded by the rocky shore, Rush the night-prowlers on the prey, And turn to groans his roundelay. Strange - that where Nature loved to trace, As if for Gods, a dwelling place, And every charm and grace hath mix'd Within the paradise she fix'd, There man, enamour'd of distress, Should mar it into wilderness, And trample, brute-like, o'er each flower That tasks not one laborious hour; Nor claims the culture of his hand To bloom along the fairy land,
He who hath bent him o'er the dcad s Ere the first day of death is fled, The first dark day of nothingness, The last of danger and distress, (Before Decay's effacing fingers Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,) And mark'd the mild angelic air, The rapture of repose that's there, 4 The fix'd yet tender traits that streak The langour of the placid cheek, And - but for that sad shrouded eye,
That fires not, wins not, weeps not, now,
And but for that chill, changeless brow, Where cold Obstruction's apathy 5 Appals the gazing mourner's heart, As if to him it could impart The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon; Yes, but for these and these alone, Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour, He still might doubt the tyrant's power; So fair, so calm, so softly seald, The first, last look by death reveal'd ! 6 Such is the aspect of this shore; 'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more 17 So coldly sweet, so deadly fair, We start, for soul is wanting there.
timents or images his fancy, in its excursions, could collect ; and, how little fettered he was by any regard to connection in these additions, appears from a note which accompanied his own copy of this paragraph, in which he says, - I have Dot yet fixed the place of insertion for the following lines, but will, when I see you - as I have no copy.' Even into this new passage, rich as it was at first, his fancy afterwards poured a fresh infusion." - The value of these after-touches of the master may be appreciated by comparing the following verses, from his original draft of this paragrapli, with the form which they now wear :
“ Fair clime! where ceaseless summer smiles,
Benignant o'er those blessed isles,
That waves and wasts the fragrance there." The whole of this passage, from line 7. down to line 167., * Who heard it first had cause to griere," was not in the first edition)
The attachment of the nightingale to the rose is a well. known Persian fable. If I mistake not, the “ Bulbul of a thousand tales " is one of his appellations. [Thus, Mesihi, as translated by Sir William Jones :
“ Come, charming maid ! and hear thy poet sing,
Thyselt the rose, and he the bird of spring :
? The guitar is the constant amusement of the Greek sailor by night : with a steady fair wind, and during a calm, it is accompanied always by the voice, and often by dancing.
3[?f once the public notice is drawn to a poet, the talents he exhibits on a nearer view, the weight his mind carries with it in his every day intercourse, somehow or other, are reflected around un his compositions, and co-operate in giving a collateral force to their impression on the public. To this we must assiga some part of the impression inade by the • Giaour.". The thirty-five lines beginning “He who hath bent him o'er the dead" are so beautiiul, so original, and so utterly beyond the reach of any one whose poetical gentús was not very decided, and very rich, that they alone, under the circumstances explained, were sufficient to secure celebrity to this poem. — Sir E. BRYDGES.] * (" And mark'd the almost dreaming air
Which speaks the sweet repose that's there." – MS.] S“ Ay, but to die and go we know not where, To lye in cold obstruction ?"
Measure for Measure, act lil. sc. 2. B I trust that few of my readers have ever had an oppor. tunity of witnessing what is here attempted in description ; but those who have will probably retain painful remeinbrance of that singular beauty which pervades, with few exceptions, the features of the dead, a few hours, and but for a few hours, alter “the spirit is not there." It is to be remarked in cases of violent death by gun.shot wounds, the expression is always that of languor, whatever the natural energy of the sufferer's character : but in death from a stab the countenance preserves its traits of feeling or ferocity, and the mind its bias, to the last.
i [In Dallaway's Constantinople, n book which Lord Byron is not unlikely to have consulted, I find a passage quoted from Gillies's History of Greece, which contains, perhaps, the first seed of the thought thus expaoded into full perfection by
Hers is the loveliness in death,
The farewell beam of Feeling past away!
When man was worthy of thy climc. The hearts within thy valleys bred, The fiery souls that might have led
Thy sons to deeds subline, Now crawl from cradle to the grave, Slaves — nay, the bondsmen of a slave, s
And callous, save to crime ; Staind with each evil that pollutes Mankind, where least above the brutes ; Without even savage virtue blest, Without one free or valiant breast. Still to the neighbouring ports they waft Proverbial wiles, and ancient craft; In this the subtle Greek is found, For this, and this alone, renown'il. In vain might Liberty invoke The spirit to its bondage broke, Or raise the neck that courts the yoke : No more her sorrows I bewail, Yet this will be a inournful tale, And they who listen may believe, Who heard it first had cause to gricve.
Clime of the unforgotten brare ! Whosc land from plain to mountain-cave Was Freedom's home or Glory's grave ! Shrine of the miglity ! can it be, That this is all remains of thee ? Approach, thou craven crouching slave.
Say, is not this Thermopyla ? These waters blue that round you lave,
Oh servile offspring of the freePronounce what sea, what shore is this? The gulf, the rock of Salamis ! These scenes, their story not unknown, Arise, and make again your own; Snatch from the ashes of your sires
The embers of their former fires; • And he who in the strife expires
Will aid to theirs a name of fear
Far, dark, along the blue sea glancing, The shadows of the rocks advancing Start on the fisher's eye like boat Of island-pirate or Mainote; And fearful for his light caique, He shuns the near but doubtful creek : Though worn and weary with his toil, And cumber'd with his scaly spoil, Slowly, yet strongly, plies the oar, Till Port Leone's safer shore Receives him by the lovely light That best becomes an Eastern night.
Who thundering comes on blackest steed, 4 With slackend bit and hoof of speed ? Beneath the clattering iron's sound The cavern'd echoes wake around In lash for lash, and bound for bound; The foam that streaks the courser's side Seems gather'd from the ocean-tide: Though weary waves are sunk to rest, There's none within his rider's breast; And though to-morrow's tempest lower, 'Tis calmer than thy heart, young Giaour !5 I know thee not, I loathe thy race, But in thy lineaments I trace What time shall strengthen, not efface : Though young and pale, that sallow front Is scathed by fiery passion's brunt;
What can he tell who treads thy shore ?
No legend of thine olden time, No theme on which the muse might soar High as thine own in days of yore,
genius :-" The present state of Greece compared to the ancient, is the silent obscurity of the grave contrasted with the vivid lustre of active life." - Moore.]
! [There is infinite beauty and effect, though of a painful and almost oppressive character, in this extraordinary pas. sage; in which the author has illustrated the beautiful, but still and melancholy aspect of the once busy and glorious shores of Greece, by an image more true, more mournful, and more exquisitely finished, than any that we can recollect in the whole compass of poetry. - JEFFREY.)
? [From this line to the conclusion of the paragraph, the MS. is written in a hurried and almost illegible hand, as if these splendid lines had been poured forth in one continuous burst of poetic feeling, which would hardly allow time for the hand to follow the rapid flow of the imagination.]
3 Athens is the property of the Kislar Aga (the slave of the setaglio and guardian of the women), who appoints the Way
wode. A pander and eunuch - these arc not polite, yet true appellations – now governs the governor of Athens !
* [The reciter of the tale is a Turkish fisherman, who has been employed during the day in the guli of Egins, and in the evening, apprehensive of the Mainote pirates who infest the coast of Attica, lands with his boat on the harbour of Port Leone, the ancient Pirxus. He becomes the eye-witness of nearly all the incidents in the story, and in one of them is a principal agent. It is to his feelings, and particularly to his religious prejudices, that we are indebted for some of the most forcible and splendid parts of the poem. - GEORGE Ellis.]
5 [In Dr. Clarke's Travels, this word, which means Infidel, is always written according to its English fronunciation, Djour. Lord Byron adopted the Italian spelling usual arnong the Franks of the Levant.)