The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/On the Death of a Young Lady

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The Works of Lord Byron by George Gordon Byron
On the Death of a Young Lady

ON THE DEATH OF A YOUNG LADY,[1] COUSIN TO THE AUTHOR, AND VERY DEAR TO HIM.

1.

Hush'd are the winds, and still the evening gloom,
 Not e'en a zephyr wanders through the grove,
Whilst I return to view my Margaret's tomb,
 And scatter flowers on the dust I love.


2.

Within this narrow cell reclines her clay,
 That clay, where once such animation beam'd;
The King of Terrors seiz'd her as his prey;
 Not worth, nor beauty, have her life redeem'd.


3.

Oh! could that King of Terrors pity feel,
 Or Heaven reverse the dread decree of fate,
Not here the mourner would his grief reveal,
 Not here the Muse her virtues would relate.


4.

But wherefore weep? Her matchless spirit soars
 Beyond where splendid shines the orb of day;
And weeping angels lead her to those bowers,
 Where endless pleasures virtuous deeds repay.


5.

And shall presumptuous mortals Heaven arraign!
 And, madly, Godlike Providence accuse!
Ah! no, far fly from me attempts so vain;—
 I'll ne'er submission to my God refuse.


6.

Yet is remembrance of those virtues dear,
 Yet fresh the memory of that beauteous face;
Still they call forth my warm affection's tear,
 Still in my heart retain their wonted place.[2]

1802.


  1. The author claims the indulgence of the reader more for this piece than, perhaps, any other in the collection; but as it was written at an earlier period than the rest (being composed at the age of fourteen), and his first essay, he preferred submitting it to the indulgence of his friends in its present state, to making either addition or alteration.—[4to]

    ["My first dash into poetry was as early as 1800. It was the ebullition of a passion for my first cousin, Margaret Parker (daughter and granddaughter of the two Admirals Parker), one of the most beautiful of evanescent beings. I have long forgotten the verse; but it would be difficult for me to forget her—her dark eyes—her long eye-lashes—her completely Greek cast of face and figure! I was then about twelve—she rather older, perhaps a year. She died about a year or two afterwards, in consequence of a fall, which injured her spine, and induced consumption. . . . I knew nothing of her illness, being at Harrow and in the country till she was gone. Some years after, I made an attempt at an elegy—a very dull one."—Byron Diary, 1821; Life, p. 17.]

    [Margaret Parker was the sister of Sir Peter Parker, whose death at Baltimore, in 1814, Byron celebrated in the "Elegiac Stanzas," which were first published in the poems attached to the seventh edition of Childe Harold.]

  2. Such sorrow brings me honour, not disgrace.—[4to]