Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/196

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


Then must I plunge again into the crowd,
And follow all that Peace disdains to seek?
Where Revel calls, and Laughter, vainly loud,
False to the heart, distorts the hollow cheek,
To leave the flagging spirit doubly weak;
Still o'er the features, which perforce they cheer,
To feign the pleasure or conceal the pique:
Smiles form the channel of a future tear,
Or raise the writhing lip with ill-dissembled sneer,


What is the worst of woes that wait on Age?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from Life's page,
And be alone on earth, as I am now.
Before the Chastener humbly let me bow,
O'er Hearts divided and o'er Hopes destroyed:
Roll on, vain days! full reckless may ye flow,
Since Time hath reft whate'er my soul enjoyed,[1]
And with the ills of Eld mine earlier years alloyed.

  1. Though Time not yet hath ting'd my locks with snow,[a]
    Yet hath he reft whate'er my soul enjoy'd.—[D.]

    ^  a.

    "To Mr. Dallas.

    "If Mr. D. wishes me to adopt the former line so be it. I prefer the other I confess, it has less egotism—the first sounds affected.


    [Dallas assented, and directed the printer to let the Roll stand.]

    [Note.—The MS. closes with stanza xcii. Stanzas xciii.-xcviii. were added after Childe Harold was in the press. Byron sent them to Dallas, October 11, 1811, and, apparently, on the same day composed the Epistle to a Friend (F. Hodgson) in answer to some lines exhorting the Author to be cheerful, and to "Banish Care," and the first poem To Thyrza ("Without a stone to mark the Spot"). "I have sent," he writes, "two or three additional stanzas for both 'Fyttes.' I have been again shocked with a death, and have lost one very dear to me in happier times; but 'I have almost forgot the taste of grief,' and 'supped full of horrors' till I have become callous, nor have I a tear left for an event which, five years ago, would have bowed down my head to the earth. It seems as though I were to experience in my youth the greatest misery of age. My friends fall around me, and I shall be left a lonely tree before I am withered." In one respect he would no longer disclaim identity with Childe Harold. "Death had deprived him of his nearest connections." He had seen his friends "around him fall like leaves in wintry weather." He felt "like one deserted;" and in the "dusky shadow" of that early desolation he was destined to walk till his life's end. It is not without cause when "a man of great spirit grows melancholy." In connection with this subject, it may be noted that lines 6 and 7 of stanza xcv. do not bear out Byron's contention to Dallas (Letters, October 14 and 31, 1811), that in these three in memoriam stanzas (ix., xcv., xcvi.) he is bewailing an event which took place after he returned to Newstead. The "more than friend" had "ceased to be" before the "wanderer" returned. It is evident that Byron did not take Dallas into his confidence.]