Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/271

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I turned to thee, to thousands, of whom each
And one as all a ghastly gap did make
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The Archangel's trump, not Glory's, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of Fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honoured but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.


They mourn, but smile at length—and, smiling, mourn:
The tree will wither long before it fall;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;[1]
The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruined wall

Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone;

    "Yet Nature everywhere resumed her course;
    Low pansies to the sun their purple gave,
    And the soft poppy blossomed on the grave."

    Poet's Pilgrimage, iii. 36.

    But the contrast between the continuous action of nature and the doom of the unreturning dead, which does not greatly concern Southey, fills Byron with a fierce desire to sum the price of victory. He flings in the face of the vain-glorious mourners the bitter reality of their abiding loss. It was this prophetic note, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness," which sounded in and through Byron's rhetoric to the men of his own generation.]

  1. And dead within behold the Spring return.—[MS. erased.]