That curse shall be Forgiveness.—Have I not—
Hear me, my mother Earth! behold it, Heaven!—
Have I not had to wrestle with my lot?
Have I not suffered things to be forgiven?
Have I not had my brain seared, my heart riven,
Hopes sapped, name blighted, Life's life lied away?
And only not to desperation driven,
Because not altogether of such clay
As rots into the souls of those whom I survey.
From mighty wrongs to petty perfidy
Have I not seen what human things could do?
From the loud roar of foaming calumny
To the small whisper of the as paltry few—
And subtler venom of the reptile crew,
If to forgive be "heaping coals of Fire"
As God hath spoken—on the heads of foes
Mine should be a Volcano—and rise higher
Than o'er the Titans crushed Olympus rose
Than Athos soars, or blazing Ætna glows:
True—they who stung were petty things—but what
Than serpent's sting produce more deadly throes.
The Lion may be tortured by the Gnat—
Who sucks the slumberer's blood—the Eagle? no, the Bat.[a]—[MS. M.]
^ a. [The "Bat" was "a sobriquet by which Lady Caroline Lamb was well known in London society." An Italian translation of her novel, Glenarvon, was at this time in the press at Venice (see letter to Murray, August 7, 1817), and it is probable that Byron, who declined to interdict its publication, took his revenge in a petulant stanza, which, on second thoughts, he decided to omit. (See note by Mr. Richard Edgcumbe, Notes and Queries, eighth series, 1895, viii. 101.)]
- [Compare "Lines on hearing that Lady Byron was ill," lines 53-55.]