To shame the Doctrine of the Sadducee
And Sophists, madly vain of dubious lore;
How sweet it were in concert to adore
With those who made our mortal labours light!
To hear each voice we feared to hear no more!
Behold each mighty shade revealed to sight,
The Bactrian, Samian sage, and all who taught the Right!
There, Thou!—whose Love and Life together fled,
Have left me here to love and live in vain—
- [Byron forwarded this stanza in a letter to Dallas, dated October 14, 1811, and was careful to add, "I think it proper to state to you, that this stanza alludes to an event which has taken place since my arrival here, and not to the death of any male friend" (Letters, 1898, ii. 57). The reference is not to Edleston, as Dallas might have guessed, and as Wright (see Poetical Works, 1891, p. 17) believed. Again, in a letter to Dallas, dated October 31, 1811 (ibid., ii. 65), he sends "a few stanzas," presumably the lines "To Thyrza," which are dated October 11, 1811, and says that "they refer to the death of one to whose name you are a stranger, and, consequently, cannot be interested (sic) ... They relate to the same person whom I have mentioned in Canto 2nd, and at
tenets of the preceding stanza to their logical conclusion. The end is silence, not a reunion with superior souls. But Dallas objected; and it may well be that, in the presence of death, Byron could not "guard his unbelief," or refrain from a renewed questioning of the "Grand Perhaps." Stanza for stanza, the new version is an improvement on the original. (See Recollections of the Life of Lord Byron, 1824, p. 169. See, too, letters to Hodgson, September 3 and September 13, 1811: Letters, 1898, ii. 18, 34.)]
I am no sneerer at thy phantasy;
Thou pitiest me, alas! I envy thee,
Thou bold Discoverer in an unknown sea
Of happy Isles and happier Tenants there;