The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/Hebrew Melodies/Herod's Lament for Mariamne

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HEROD'S LAMENT FOR MARIAMNE.[1]

I.

Oh, Mariamne! now for thee
 The heart for which thou bled'st is bleeding;
Revenge is lost in Agony[2]
 And wild Remorse to rage succeeding.[3]
Oh, Mariamne! where art thou?
 Thou canst not hear my bitter pleading:[4]
Ah! could'st thou—thou would'st pardon now,
 Though Heaven were to my prayer unheeding.


II.

And is she dead?—and did they dare
 Obey my Frenzy's jealous raving?[5]
My Wrath but doomed my own despair:
 The sword that smote her 's o'er me waving.—
But thou art cold, my murdered Love!
 And this dark heart is vainly craving[6]
For he who soars alone above,
 And leaves my soul unworthy saving.


III.

She's gone, who shared my diadem;
 She sunk, with her my joys entombing;
I swept that flower from Judah's stem,
 Whose leaves for me alone were blooming;
And mine's the guilt, and mine the hell,
 This bosom's desolation dooming;
And I have earned those tortures well,[7]
 Which unconsumed are still consuming!

Jan. 15, 1815.


  1. [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.]
  2. And what was rage is agony.—[MS. erased.]
    Revenge is turned ——.—[MS.]
  3. And deep Remorse ——.—[MS.]
  4. And what am I thy tyrant pleading.—[MS. erased.]
  5. Thou art not dead—they could not dare
     Obey my jealous Frenzy's raving.—[MS.]

  6. But yet in death my soul enslaving.—[MS. erased.]
  7. Oh I have earned ——.—[MS.]