The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/And wilt Thou weep when I am low?

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And wilt thou weep when I am low?
Sweet lady! speak those words again:
Yet if they grieve thee, say not so—
I would not give that bosom pain.


My heart is sad, my hopes are gone,
My blood runs coldly through my breast;
And when I perish, thou alone
Wilt sigh above my place of rest.


And yet, methinks, a gleam of peace
Doth through my cloud of anguish shine:
And for a while my sorrows cease,
To know thy heart hath felt for mine.


Oh lady! blessèd be that tear—
It falls for one who cannot weep;
Such precious drops are doubly dear[2]
To those whose eyes no tear may steep.


Sweet lady! once my heart was warm
With every feeling soft as thine;
But Beauty's self hath ceased to charm
A wretch created to repine.


Yet wilt thou weep when I am low?
Sweet lady! speak those words again:
Yet if they grieve thee, say not so—
I would not give that bosom pain.[4]

Aug. 12, 1808. [First published, 1809.]

  1. Stanzas.—[MS. L.]

    To the Same.—[Imit. and Transl., p. 202.]

  2. For one whose life is torment here,
    And only in the dust may sleep.—[MS. L.]
  3. The MS. inserts—

    Lady I will not tell my tale
    For it would rend thy melting heart;
    'Twere pity sorrow should prevail
    O'er one so gentle as thou art.—[MS. L.]

  4. [It was in one of Byron's fits of melancholy that the following verses were addressed to him by his friend John Cam Hobhouse:—


    Hail! generous youth, whom glory's sacred flame

    Inspires, and animates to deeds of fame;
    Who feel the noble wish before you die
    To raise the finger of each passer-by:
    Hail! may a future age admiring view
    A Falkland or a Clarendon in you.

    But as your blood with dangerous passion boils,
    Beware! and fly from Venus' silken toils:
    Ah! let the head protect the weaker heart,
    And Wisdom's Ægis turn on Beauty's dart.


    But if 'tis fix'd that every lord must pair,
    And you and Newstead must not want an heir,
    Lose not your pains, and scour the country round,
    To find a treasure that can ne'er be found!
    No! take the first the town or court affords,
    Trick'd out to stock a market for the lords;
    By chance perhaps your luckier choice may fall
    On one, though wicked, not the worst of all:


    One though perhaps as any Maxwell free,
    Yet scarce a copy, Claribel, of thee;
    Not very ugly, and not very old,
    A little pert indeed, but not a scold;
    One that, in short, may help to lead a life
    Not farther much from comfort than from strife;
    And when she dies, and disappoints your fears,
    Shall leave some joys for your declining years.

    But, as your early youth some time allows,
    Nor custom yet demands you for a spouse,
    Some hours of freedom may remain as yet,
    For one who laughs alike at love and debt:
    Then, why in haste? put off the evil day,
    And snatch at youthful comforts while you may
    Pause! nor so soon the various bliss forego
    That single souls, and such alone, can know:
    Ah! why too early careless life resign,
    Your morning slumber, and your evening wine;
    Your loved companion, and his easy talk;
    Your Muse, invoked in every peaceful walk?
    What! can no more your scenes paternal please,
    Scenes sacred long to wise, unmated ease?
    The prospect lengthen'd o'er the distant down,
    Lakes, meadows, rising woods, and all your own?
    What! shall your Newstead, shall your cloister'd bowers,
    The high o'erhanging arch and trembling towers!
    Shall these, profaned with folly or with strife,
    An ever fond, or ever angry wife!
    Shall these no more confess a manly sway,
    But changeful woman's changing whims obey?
    Who may, perhaps, as varying humour calls,
    Contract your cloisters and o'erthrow your walls;
    Let Repton loose o'er all the ancient ground,
    Change round to square, and square convert to round;
    Root up the elms' and yews' too solemn gloom,
    And fill with shrubberies gay and green their room;
    Roll down the terrace to a gay parterre,
    Where gravel'd walks and flowers alternate glare;
    And quite transform, in every point complete,
    Your Gothic abbey to a country seat.

    Forget the fair one, and your fate delay;
    If not avert, at least defer the day,
    When you beneath the female yoke shall bend,
    And lose your wit, your temper, and your friend.[*]

    Trin. Coll. Camb., 1808.]

    ^  *[In his mother's copy of Hobhouse's volume, Byron has written with a pencil, "I have lost them all, and shall wed accordingly. 1811. B."]