The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/Answer to a Beautiful Poem

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The Works of Lord Byron by George Gordon Byron
Answer to a Beautiful Poem, Written by Montgomery, Author of "The Wanderer in Switzerland," etc., entitled "The Common Lot"

ANSWER TO A BEAUTIFUL POEM, WRITTEN BY MONTGOMERY, AUTHOR OF "THE WANDERER OF SWITZERLAND," ETC., ENTITLED "THE COMMON LOT."[1]

1.

Montgomery! true, the common lot
 Of mortals lies in Lethe's wave;
Yet some shall never be forgot,
 Some shall exist beyond the grave.


2.

"Unknown the region of his birth,"
 The hero[2] rolls the tide of war;
Yet not unknown his martial worth,
 Which glares a meteor from afar.


3.

His joy or grief, his weal or woe,
 Perchance may 'scape the page of fame;
Yet nations, now unborn, will know
 The record of his deathless name.


4.

The Patriot's and the Poet's frame
 Must share the common tomb of all:
Their glory will not sleep the same;
 That will arise, though Empires fall.


5.

The lustre of a Beauty's eye
 Assumes the ghastly stare of death;
The fair, the brave, the good must die,
 And sink the yawning grave beneath.


6.

Once more, the speaking eye revives,
 Still beaming through the lover's strain;
For Petrarch's Laura still survives:
 She died, but ne'er will die again.


7.

The rolling seasons pass away,
 And Time, untiring, waves his wing;
Whilst honour's laurels ne'er decay,
 But bloom in fresh, unfading spring.


8.

All, all must sleep in grim repose,
 Collected in the silent tomb;
The old, the young, with friends and foes,
 Fest'ring alike in shrouds, consume.


9.

The mouldering marble lasts its day,
 Yet falls at length an useless fane;
To Ruin's ruthless fangs a prey,
 The wrecks of pillar'd Pride remain.


10.

What, though the sculpture be destroy'd,
 From dark Oblivion meant to guard;
A bright renown shall be enjoy'd,
 By those, whose virtues claim reward.


11.

Then do not say the common lot
 Of all lies deep in Lethe's wave;
Some few who ne'er will be forgot
 Shall burst the bondage of the grave.

1806.


  1. [Montgomery (James), 1771-1854, poet and hymn-writer, published Prison Amusements (1797), The Ocean; a Poem (1805), The Wanderer of Switzerland, and other Poems (1806), The West Indies, and other Poems (1810), Songs of Sion (1822), The Christian Psalmist (1825), The Pelican Island, and other Poems (1827), etc. (vide post, English Bards, etc., line 425, and note).]
  2. No particular hero is here alluded to. The exploits of Bayard, Nemours, Edward the Black Prince, and, in more modern times, the fame of Marlborough, Frederick the Great, Count Saxe, Charles of Sweden, etc., are familiar to every historical reader, but the exact places of their birth are known to a very small proportion of their admirers.