The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/Stanzas. "And thou art dead, as young and fair"

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For works with similar titles, see Stanzas (Byron).

AND THOU ART DEAD, AS YOUNG AND FAIR.[1]

Heu, quanto minus est cum reliquis versari quam tui merminisse!"[2]

1.

And thou art dead, as young and fair
As aught of mortal birth;
And form so soft, and charms so rare,
Too soon returned to Earth![3]
Though Earth received them in her bed,
And o'er the spot the crowd may tread[4]
In carelessness or mirth,
There is an eye which could not brook
A moment on that grave to look.


2.

I will not ask where thou liest low,[5]
Nor gaze upon the spot;
There flowers or weeds at will may grow,
So I behold them not:[6]
It is enough for me to prove
That what I loved, and long must love,
Like common earth can rot;[7]
To me there needs no stone to tell,
'Tis Nothing that I loved so well.[8]


3.

Yet did I love thee to the last
As fervently as thou,[9]
Who didst not change through all the past,
And canst not alter now.
The love where Death has set his seal,
Nor age can chill, nor rival steal,[10]
Nor falsehood disavow:[11]
And, what were worse, thou canst not see[12]
Or wrong, or change, or fault in me.[13]


4.

The better days of life were ours;
The worst can be bnt mine:
The sun that cheers, the storm that lowers,[14]
Shall never more be thine.
The silence of that dreamless sleep[15]
I envy now too much to weep;
Nor need I to repine,
That all those charms have passed away
I might have watched through long decay.


5.

The flower in ripened bloom unmatched
Must fall the earliest prey;[16]
Though by no hand untimely snatched,
The leaves must drop away:
And yet it were a greater grief
To watch it withering, leaf by leaf,
Than see it plucked to-day;
Since earthly eye but ill can bear
To trace the change to foul from fair.


6.

I know not if I could have borne[17]
To see thy beauties fade;
The night that followed such a morn
Had worn a deeper shade:
Thy day without a cloud hath passed,[18]
And thou wert lovely to the last;
Extinguished, not decayed;
As stars that shoot along the sky[19]
Shine brightest as they fall from high.


7.

As once I wept, if I could weep,
My tears might well be shed,
To think I was not near to keep
One vigil o'er thy bed;
To gaze, how fondly! on thy face,
To fold thee in a faint embrace,
Uphold thy drooping head;
And show that love, however vain,
Nor thou nor I can feel again.


8.

Yet how much less it were to gain,
Though thou hast left me free,[20]
The loveliest things that still remain,
Than thus remember thee!
The all of thine that cannot die
Through dark and dread Eternity[21]
Returns again to me,
And more thy buried love endears
Than aught, except its living years.

February, 1812.
[First published, Childe Harold, 1812 (Second Edition).]

  1. Stanzas.—[Editions 1812-1831.]
  2. ["The Lovers' Walk is terminated with an ornamental urn, inscribed to Miss Dolman, a beautiful and amiable relation of Mr. Shenstone's, who died of the small-pox, about twenty-one years of age, in the following words on one side:—

    "'Peramabili consobrinæ
    M.D.'

    On the other side—

    "'Ah! Maria!
    pvellarvm elegantissima!
    ah Flore venvstatis abrepta,
    vale!
    hev qvanto minvs est
    cvm reliqvis versari
    qvam tui
    meminisse.'"

    (From a Description of the Leasowes, by A. Dodsley; Poetical Works of William Shenstone [1798], p. xxix.)]

  3. Are mingled with the Earth.—[MS.]
    Were never meant for Earth.—[MS. erased.]
  4. Unhonoured with the vulgar dread.—[MS. erased.]
  5. I will not ask where thou art laid,
    Nor look upon the name.—[MS. erased.]
  6. So I shall know it not.—[MS. erased.]
  7. Like common dust can rot.—[MS.]
  8. I would not wish to see nor touch.—[MS. erased.]
  9. As well as warm as thou.—[MS. erased.]
  10. MS. transposes lines 5 and 6 of stanza 3.
  11. Nor frailty disavow.—[MS.]
  12. Nor canst thou fair and faultless see.—[MS. erased.]
  13. Nor wrong, nor change, nor fault in me.—[MS.]
  14. The cloud that cheers ——.—[MS.]
  15. The sweetness of that silent deep.—[MS.]
  16. The flower in beauty's bloom unmatched
    Is still the earliest prey.—[MS.]
    The rose by some rude finders snatched,
    Is earliest doomed to fade.—[MS. erased.]
  17. I do not deem I could have borne.—[MS.]
  18. But night and day of thine are passed,
    And thou wert lovely to the last;
    Destroyed ——.—[MS. erased.]
  19. As stars that seem to quit the sky.—[MS.]
  20. O how much less it were to gain,
    All beauteous though they be.—[MS.]
  21. Through dark and dull Eternity.—[MS.]