The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/The Giaour

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No breath of air to break the wave
That rolls below the Athenian's grave,
That tomb[decimal 1] which, gleaming o'er the cliff,
First greets the homeward-veering skiff
High o'er the land he saved in vain;
When shall such Hero live again?

Fair clime! where every season smiles[lower-roman 1]
Benignant o'er those blesséd isles,
Which, seen from far Colonna's height,
Make glad the heart that hails the sight,10
And lend to loneliness delight.
There mildly dimpling, Ocean's cheek
Reflects the tints of many a peak
Caught by the laughing tides that lave
These Edens of the eastern wave:
And if at times a transient breeze
Break the blue crystal of the seas,
Or sweep one blossom from the trees,
How welcome is each gentle air
That wakes and wafts the odours there!20
For there the Rose, o'er crag or vale,
Sultana of the Nightingale,[decimal 2]

The maid for whom his melody,
His thousand songs are heard on high,
Blooms blushing to her lover's tale:
His queen, the garden queen, his Rose,
Unbent by winds, unchilled by snows,
Far from the winters of the west.
By every breeze and season blest,
Returns the sweets by Nature given30
In softest incense back to Heaven;
And grateful yields that smiling sky
Her fairest hue and fragrant sigh.
And many a summer flower is there.
And many a shade that Love might share,
And many a grotto, meant for rest,
That holds the pirate for a guest;
Whose bark in sheltering cove below
Lurks for the passing peaceful prow.
Till the gay mariner's guitar[decimal 3]40
Is heard, and seen the Evening Star;

Then stealing with the muffled oar,
Far shaded by the rocky shore,
Rush the night-prowlers on the prey,
And turn to groans his roundelay.
Strange—that where Nature loved to trace,
As if for Gods, a dwelling place,
And every charm and grace hath mixed
Within the Paradise she fixed,
There man, enamoured of distress,50
Should mar it into wilderness,[lower-roman 2]
And trample, brute-like, o'er each flower
That tasks not one laborious hour;
Nor claims the culture of his hand
To bloom along the fairy land.
But springs as to preclude his care,
And sweetly woos him—but to spare!
Strange—that where all is Peace beside.
There Passion riots in her pride.
And Lust and Rapine wildly reign60
To darken o'er the fair domain.
It is as though the Fiends prevailed
Against the Seraphs they assailed.
And, fixed on heavenly thrones, should dwell
The freed inheritors of Hell;
So soft the scene, so formed for joy,
So curst the tyrants that destroy!

He who hath bent him o'er the dead[lower-roman 3][decimal 4]
Ere the first day of Death is fled,

The first dark day of Nothingness,70
The last of Danger and Distress,
(Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where Beauty lingers,)
And marked the mild angelic air.
The rapture of Repose that's there,[lower-roman 4]
The fixed yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,
And—but for that sad shrouded eye.
That fires not, wins not, weeps not, now.
And but for that chill, changeless brow,80

Where cold Obstruction's apathy[decimal 5]
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,[lower-roman 5]
As if to him it could impart
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon;
Yes, but for these and these alone,
Some moments, aye, one treacherous hour.
He still might doubt the Tyrant's power;
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed.
The first, last look by Death revealed![decimal 6]
Such is the aspect of this shore;90
'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more![decimal 7]
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for Soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath;

But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb,
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded Halo hovering round decay,
The farewell beam of Feeling past away!100

Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth,

Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished earth!

Clime of the unforgotten brave![decimal 8]
Whose land from plain to mountain-cave
Was Freedom's home or Glory's grave!
Shrine of the mighty! can it be,[lower-roman 6]
That this is all remains of thee?
Approach, thou craven crouching slave:[decimal 9]
Say, is not this Thermopylæ?[lower-roman 7]
These waters blue that round you lave,—110
Oh servile offspring of the free—
Pronounce what sea, what shore is this?
The gulf, the rock of Salamis!
These scenes, their story not unknown,
Arise, and make again your own;
Snatch from the ashes of your Sires
The embers of their former fires;

And he who in the strife expires[lower-roman 8]
Will add to theirs a name of fear
That Tyranny shall quake to hear, 120
And leave his sons a hope, a fame,
They too will rather die than shame:
For Freedom's battle once begun.
Bequeathed by bleeding Sire to Son,[lower-roman 9]
Though baffled oft is ever won.
Bear witness, Greece, thy living page!
Attest it many a deathless age![lower-roman 10]
While Kings, in dusty darkness hid,
Have left a nameless pyramid.
Thy Heroes, though the general doom 130
Hath swept the column from their tomb,
A mightier monument command,
The mountains of their native land!
There points thy Muse to stranger's eye[lower-roman 11]
The graves of those that cannot die!
'Twere long to tell, and sad to trace,
Each step from Splendour to Disgrace;
Enough—no foreign foe could quell
Thy soul, till from itself it fell;
Yet! Self-abasement paved the way 140
To villain-bonds and despot sway.

What can he tell who treads thy shore?
No legend of thine olden time,
No theme on which the Muse might soar
High as thine own in days of yore,

When man was worthy of thy clime.
The hearts within thy valleys bred,[lower-roman 12]
The fiery souls that might have led
Thy sons to deeds sublime,
Now crawl from cradle to the Grave, 150
Slaves—nay, the bondsmen of a Slave,[decimal 10]
And callous, save to crime;
Stained with each evil that pollutes
Mankind, where least above the brutes;
Without even savage virtue blest,
Without one free or valiant breast,
Still to the neighbouring ports they waft[lower-roman 13]
Proverbial wiles, and ancient craft;
In this the subtle Greek is found,
For this, and this alone, renowned. 160
In vain might Liberty invoke
The spirit to its bondage broke
Or raise the neck that courts the yoke:
No more her sorrows I bewail,
Yet this will be a mournful tale,
And they who listen may believe,
Who heard it first had cause to grieve.
*****Far, dark, along the blue sea glancing,
The shadows of the rocks advancing

Start on the fisher's eye like boat 170
Of island-pirate or Mainote;
And fearful for his light caïque,
He shuns the near but doubtful creek:[lower-roman 14]
Though worn and weary with his toil,
And cumbered with his scaly spoil,
Slowly, yet strongly, plies the oar.
Till Port Leone's safer shore
Receives him by the lovely light
That best becomes an Eastern night.
*****Who thundering comes on blackest steed,[decimal 11]180
With slackened bit and hoof of speed?
Beneath the clattering iron's sound
The caverned Echoes wake around
In lash for lash, and bound for bound;
The foam that streaks the courser's side
Seems gathered from the Ocean-tide:
Though weary waves are sunk to rest,
There's none within his rider's breast;
And though to-morrow's tempest lower,
'Tis calmer than thy heart, young Giaour! [decimal 12]190

I know thee not, I loathe thy race,
But in thy hneaments I trace
What Time shall strengthen, not efface:
Though young and pale, that sallow front
Is scathed by fiery Passion's brunt;
Though bent on earth thine evil eye,[lower-roman 15]
As meteor-like thou glidest by,
Right well I view and deem thee one
Whom Othman's sons should slay or shun.

On—on he hastened, and he drew 200
My gaze of wonder as he flew:[lower-roman 16]
Though like a Demon of the night
He passed, and vanished from my sight,
His aspect and his air impressed
A troubled memory on my breast,
And long upon my startled ear
Rung his dark courser's hoofs of fear.
He spurs his steed; he nears the steep,
That, jutting, shadows o'er the deep;
He winds around; he hurries by; 210
The rock relieves him from mine eye;
For, well I ween, unwelcome he
Whose glance is fixed on those that flee;
And not a star but shines too bright

On him who takes such timeless flight.[lower-roman 17]
He wound along; but ere he passed
One glance he snatched, as if his last,
A moment checked his wheeling steed,[decimal 13]
A moment breathed him from his speed,
A moment on his stirrup stood—220
Why looks he o'er the olive wood?[lower-roman 18]
The Crescent glimmers on the hill,
The Mosque's high lamps are quivering still
Though too remote for sound to wake
In echoes of the far tophaike,[decimal 14]
The flashes of each joyous peal
Are seen to prove the Moslem's zeal.
To-night, set Rhamazani's sun;
To-night, the Bairam feast's begun;
To-night—but who and what art thou230
Of foreign garb and fearful brow?
And what are these to thine or thee,
That thou shouldst either pause or flee?

He stood—some dread was on his face,
Soon Hatred settled in its place:
It rose not with the reddening flush

Of transient Anger's hasty blush,[lower-roman 19][decimal 15]
But pale as marble o'er the tomb,
Whose ghastly whiteness aids its gloom.
His brow was bent, his eye was glazed;240
He raised his arm, and fiercely raised,
And sternly shook his hand on high,
As doubting to return or fly;[lower-roman 20]
Impatient of his flight delayed,
Here loud his raven charger neighed—
Down glanced that hand, and grasped his blade;
That sound had burst his waking dream,
As Slumber starts at owlet's scream.
The spur hath lanced his courser's sides;
Away—away—for life he rides:250
Swift as the hurled on high jerreed[decimal 16]
Springs to the touch his startled steed;
The rock is doubled, and the shore
Shakes with the clattering tramp no more;
The crag is won, no more is seen

His Christian crest and haughty mien.
'Twas but an instant he restrained
That fiery barb so sternly reined;[lower-roman 21]
'Twas but a moment that he stood,
Then sped as if by Death pursued;260
But in that instant o'er his soul
Winters of Memory seemed to roll,
And gather in that drop of time
A life of pain, an age of crime.
O'er him who loves, or hates, or fears,
Such moment pours the grief of years:[lower-roman 22]
What felt he then, at once opprest
By all that most distracts the breast?
That pause, which pondered o'er his fate,
Oh, who its dreary length shall date!270
Though in Time's record nearly nought,
It was Eternity to Thought![decimal 17]
For infinite as boundless space
The thought that Conscience must embrace,
Which in itself can comprehend
Woe without name, or hope, or end.[decimal 18]

The hour is past, the Giaour is gone;
And did he fly or fall alone?[lower-roman 23]
Woe to that hour he came or went!
The curse for Hassan's sin was sent280
To turn a palace to a tomb;
He came, he went, like the Simoom,[decimal 19]
That harbinger of Fate and gloom,
Beneath whose widely-wasting breath
The very cypress droops to death—
Dark tree, still sad when others' grief is fled,
The only constant mourner o'er the dead!

The steed is vanished from the stall;
No serf is seen in Hassan's hall;
The lonely Spider's thin gray pall[lower-roman 24]290
Waves slowly widening o'er the wall;

The Bat builds in his Haram bower,[decimal 20]
And in the fortress of his power
The Owl usurps the beacon-tower;
The wild-dog howls o'er the fountain's brim,
With baffled thirst, and famine, grim;
For the stream has shrunk from its marble bed,
Where the weeds and the desolate dust are spread.
'Twas sweet of yore to see it play
And chase the sultriness of day,300
As springing high the silver dew[lower-roman 25]
In whirls fantastically flew,

And flung luxurious coolness round
The air, and verdure o'er the ground.
'Twas sweet, when cloudless stars were bright,
To view the wave of watery light,
And hear its melody by night.
And oft had Hassan's Childhood played
Around the verge of that cascade;
And oft upon his mother's breast310
That sound had harmonized his rest;
And oft had Hassan's Youth along
Its bank been soothed by Beauty's song;
And softer seemed each melting tone
Of Music mingled with its own.
But ne'er shall Hassan's Age repose
Along the brink at Twilight's close:
The stream that filled that font is fled—
The blood that warmed his heart is shed![lower-roman 26]
And here no more shall human voice320
Be heard to rage, regret, rejoice.
The last sad note that swelled the gale
Was woman's wildest funeral wail:
That quenched in silence, all is still,
But the lattice that flaps when the wind is shrill:
Though raves the gust, and floods the rain,
No hand shall close its clasp again.
On desert sands 'twere joy to scan
The rudest steps of fellow man,
So here the very voice of Grief330
Might wake an Echo like relief—[lower-roman 27]
At least 'twould say, "All are not gone;

There lingers Life, though but in one"—[lower-roman 28]
For many a gilded chamber's there,
Which Solitude might well forbear;[decimal 21]
Within that dome as yet Decay
Hath slowly worked her cankering way—
But gloom is gathered o'er the gate,
Nor there the Fakir's self will wait;
Nor there will wandering Dervise stay,340
For Bounty cheers not his delay;
Nor there will weary stranger halt
To bless the sacred "bread and salt."[lower-roman 29][decimal 22]

Alike must Wealth and Poverty
Pass heedless and unheeded by,
For Courtesy and Pity died
With Hassan on the mountain side.
His roof, that refuge unto men,
Is Desolation's hungry den.
The guest flies the hall, and the vassal from labour, 350
Since his turban was cleft by the infidel's sabre![lower-roman 30][decimal 23]
I hear the sound of coming feet,
But not a voice mine ear to greet;
More near—each turban I can scan,
And silver-sheathèd ataghan;[decimal 24]
The foremost of the band is seen
An Emir by his garb of green:[decimal 25]

"Ho! who art thou?"— "This low salam[decimal 26]
Replies of Moslem faith I am.[lower-roman 31]
The burthen ye so gently bear, 360
Seems one that claims your utmost care,
And, doubtless, holds some precious freight—
My humble bark would gladly wait."[lower-roman 32]

"Thou speakest sooth: thy skiff unmoor,
And waft us from the silent shore;
Nay, leave the sail still furled, and ply
The nearest oar that's scattered by,
And midway to those rocks where sleep
The channelled waters dark and deep.
Rest from your task—so—bravely done, 370
Our course has been right swiftly run;
Yet 'tis the longest voyage, I trow,
That one of—[decimal 27]***
***** "

Sullen it plunged, and slowly sank,
The calm wave rippled to the bank;
I watched it as it sank, methought

Some motion from the current caught
Bestirred it more,—'twas but the beam
That checkered o'er the living stream:
I gazed, till vanishing from view,380
Like lessening pebble it withdrew;
Still less and less, a speck of white
That gemmed the tide, then mocked the sight;
And all its hidden secrets sleep,
Known but to Genii of the deep,
Which, trembling in their coral caves,
They dare not whisper to the waves.
As rising on its purple wing
The insect-queen[decimal 28] of Eastern spring,
O'er emerald meadows of Kashmeer 390
Invites the young pursuer near,
And leads him on from flower to flower
A weary chase and wasted hour,
Then leaves him, as it soars on high,
With panting heart and tearful eye:
So Beauty lures the full-grown child.
With hue as bright, and wing as wild:
A chase of idle hopes and fears,
Begun in folly, closed in tears.
If won, to equal ills betrayed,[lower-roman 33] 400
Woe waits the insect and the maid;

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Of Bairam through the boundless East.
'Twas then she went as to the bath,
Which Hassan vainly searched in wrath;
For she was flown her master's rage
In likeness of a Georgian page,
And far beyond the Moslem's power
Had wronged him with the faithless Giaour.
Somewhat of this had Hassan deemed;
But still so fond, so fair she seemed, 460
Too well he trusted to the slave
Whose treachery deserved a grave:
And on that eve had gone to Mosque,
And thence to feast in his Kiosk.
Such is the tale his Nubians tell,
Who did not watch their charge too well;
But others say, that on that night,
By pale Phingari's[decimal 29] trembling light,
The Giaour upon his jet-black steed
Was seen, but seen alone to speed 470
With bloody spur along the shore,
Nor maid nor page behind him bore
Her eye's dark charm 'twere vain to tell,
But gaze on that of the Gazelle,
It will assist thy fancy well;
As large, as languishingly dark,
But Soul beamed forth in every spark
That darted from beneath the lid,
Bright as the jewel of Giamschid.[decimal 30]
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It is as if the desert bird,[decimal 31]
Whose beak unlocks her bosom's stream
To still her famished nestlings' scream,
Nor mourns a life to them transferred,
Should rend her rash devoted breast.
And find them flown her empty nest.
The keenest pangs the wretched find
Are rapture to the dreary void,
The leafless desert of the mind.
The waste of feelings unemployed.960
Who would be doomed to gaze upon
A sky without a cloud or sun?
Less hideous far the tempest's roar.
Than ne'er to brave the billows more—[lower-roman 34]
Thrown, when the war of winds is o'er,
A lonely wreck on Fortune's shore,
'Mid sullen calm, and silent bay.
Unseen to drop by dull decay;—
Better to sink beneath the shock
Than moulder piecemeal on the rock!970
*****"Father! thy days have passed in peace,
'Mid counted beads, and countless prayer;
To bid the sins of others cease.
Thyself without a crime or care,
Save transient ills that all must bear,
Has been thy lot from youth to age;

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"The cold in clime are cold in blood,
Their love can scarce deserve the name; 1100
But mine was like the lava flood
That boils in Ætna's breast of flame.
I cannot prate in puling strain
Of Ladye-love, and Beauty's chain:
If changing cheek, and scorching vein,[lower-roman 35]
Lips taught to writhe, but not complain,
If bursting heart, and maddening brain,
And daring deed, and vengeful steel,
And all that I have felt, and feel,
Betoken love—that love was mine, 1110
And shown by many a bitter sign.
'Tis true, I could not whine nor sigh,
I knew but to obtain or die.
I die—but first I have possessed,
And come what may, I have been blessed.
Shall I the doom I sought upbraid?
No—reft of all, yet undismayed[lower-roman 36]
But for the thought of Leila slain,
Give me the pleasure with the pain,
So would I live and love again. 1120
I grieve, but not, my holy Guide!
For him who dies, but her who died:
She sleeps beneath the wandering wave—
Ah! had she but an earthly grave,
This breaking heart and throbbing head
Should seek and share her narrow bed.
She was a form of Life and Light,[decimal 32]

That, seen, became a part of sight;
And rose, where'er I turned mine eye,
The Morning-star of Memory! 1130

"Yes, Love indeed is light from heaven;
A spark of that immortal fire
With angels shared, by Alia given,
To lift from earth our low desire.
Devotion wafts the mind above,
But Heaven itself descends in Love;
A feeling from the Godhead caught.
To wean from self each sordid thought;
A ray of Him who formed the whole;
A Glory circling round the soul! 1140

L Ves j I do^Ji spring j

> Love indeed I desce?id > from heaven: If ) {be born )

I immortal j eternal fire^ celestial ) To human hearts i?i mercy giveti.

To lift from earth our low desire. A feeling from the Godhead catight.

To wean from selfl ^^^/ sordid thought'.

Devotion se?ids the soul above, But Heaven itself descends to love. Yet marvel ttot, if they who love This present Joy, this future hope Which taught them with all ill to cope, No more with angidsh bravely cope.—[MS."]

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And shining in her white symar[decimal 34]
As through yon pale gray cloud the star
Which now I gaze on, as on her,
Who looked and looks far lovelier;
Dimly I view its trembling spark;[lower-roman 37]
To-morrow's night shall be more dark;
And I, before its rays appear,
That lifeless thing the living fear.1280
I wander—father! for my soul
Is fleeting towards the final goal.
I saw her—friar! and I rose
Forgetful of our former woes;
And rushing from my couch, I dart,
And clasp her to my desperate heart;
I clasp—what is it that I clasp?
No breathing form within my grasp,
No heart that beats reply to mine—
Yet, Leila! yet the form is thine!1290
And art thou, dearest, changed so much
As meet my eye, yet mock my touch?
Ah! were thy beauties e'er so cold,
I care not—so my arms enfold
The all they ever wished to hold.
Alas! around a shadow prest
They shrink upon my lonely breast;
Yet still 'tis there! In silence stands,
And beckons with beseeching hands!
With braided hair, and bright-black eye—1300
I knew 'twas false—she could not die!

But he is dead! within the dell
I saw him buried where he fell;
He comes not—for he cannot break
From earth;—why then art thou awake?
They told me wild waves rolled above
The face I view—the form I love;
They told me—'twas a hideous tale!—
I'd tell it, but my tongue would fail:
If true, and from thine ocean-cave1310
Thou com'st to claim a calmer grave,
Oh! pass thy dewy fingers o'er
This brow that then will burn no more;
Or place them on my hopeless heart:
But, Shape or Shade! whate'er thou art,
In mercy ne'er again depart!
Or farther with thee bear my soul
Than winds can waft or waters roll!
"Such is my name, and such my tale.
Confessor! to thy secret ear1320
I breathe the sorrows I bewail.
And thank thee for the generous tear
This glazing eye could never shed.
Then lay me with the humblest dead,[lower-roman 38]
And, save the cross above my head,
Be neither name nor emblem spread.
By prying stranger to be read,
Or stay the passing pilgrim's tread."[decimal 35]

He passed—nor of his name and race
He left a token or a trace,1330

Save what the Father must not say
Who shrived him on his dying day:
This broken tale was all we knew[lower-roman 39]
Of her he loved, or him he slew.

Footnotes designated by lower case Roman numerals

  1. Fair clime! where ceaseless summer smiles
    Benignant o'er those blessed isles,
    Which seen from far Colonna's height,
    Make glad the heart that hails the sight,
    And lend to loneliness delight.
    There shine the bright abodes ye seek,
    Like dimples upon Ocean's cheek,
    So smiling round the waters lave
    These Edens of the Eastern wave.
    Or if, at times, the transient breeze
    Break the
    smooth crystal of the seas.
    brush one blossom from the trees,
    grateful is each gentle air
    That wakes and wafts the
    fragrance there.—[MS.]
    the fragrance there.—[Second Edition.]
  2. Should wanton in a wilderness.—[MS]
  3. The first draft of this celebrated passage differs in many particulars from the Fair Copy, which, with the exception of the passages marked as vars. i. (p. 89) and i. (p. 90), is the same as the text. It ran as follows:—
    He who hath bent him o'er the dead
    Ere the first day of death is fed—
    The first dark day of Nothingness
    The last of doom and of distress—
    Corruption's cankering fingers
    tinged the hue where Beauty lingers
    And marked
    the soft and settled air
    That dwells with all but Spirit there
    The fixed yet tender
    lines that speak
    Of Peace along the placid cheek
    And—but for that sad shrouded eye
    That fires not—
    pleads not—weeps not—now —
    And bid for that pale chilling brow
    Whose touch tells of Mortality
    And curdles to the Gazer's heart
    As if to him it could impart
    The doom
    he only looks upon—
    Yes but for these and these alone,
    A moment—yet—a little hour
    We still might doubt the Tyrant's power.
    The eleven lines following (88-98) were not emended in the Fair Copy, and are included in the text. The Fair Copy is the sole MS. authority for the four concluding lines of the paragraph.
  4. And marked the almost dreaming air,
    Which speaks the sweet repose that's there.

    [MS. of Fair Copy.]
  5. Whose touch thrills with mortality.
    And curdles to the gazer's heart
    .—[MS. of Fair Copy.]
  6. Fountain of Wisdom! can it be.—[MS. erased.]
  7. Why is not this Thermopylæ
    These waters blue that round you lave
    Degenerate offspring of the free—
    How name ye them that shore is this?
    The wave, the rock of Salamis?
  8. And he who in the cause expires,
    Will add a name and fate to them
    Well worthy of his noble stem.
  9. Commenced by Sire—received by Son.—[MS.]
  10. Attest it many a former age
    While kings in dark oblivion hid.
  11. There let the Muse direct thine eye.—[MS.]
  12. The hearts amid thy mountains bred.—[MS]
  13. Now to the neighbouring shores they waft
    Their ancient and proverbial craft
    .—[MS. erased.]
  14. He silent shows the doubtful creek.—[MS.]
  15. Though scarcely marked.——,—[MS.]
  16. With him my wonder as he flew.—[MS.]
    With him my roused and wondering view.—[MS. erased.]
  17. For him who takes so fast a flight.—[MS. erased.]
  18. And looked along the olive wood.—[MS.]
  19. Of transient Anger's Darkening blush.—[MS.]
  20. As doubting if to stay or fly—
    Then turned it swiftly to his blade;
    As loud his raven charger neighed—
    That sound dispelled his waking dream,
    As sleepers start at owlet's scream
  21. 'Twas but an instant, though so long
    When thus dilated in my song.
    'Twas but an instant——.—[MS.]
  22. Such moment holds a thousand years.
    or, Such moment proves the grief of years.—[MS.]
  23. But neither fled nor fell alone.—[MS.]
  24. There are two MS. versions of lines 290-298: (A) a rough copy, and (B) a fair copy—
    (A) And wide the Spider's thin grey pall
    Is curtained on the splendid wall

    The Bat hath built in his mother's bower,
    And in the fortress of his power
    The Owl hath fixed her beacon tower,
    The wild dogs howl on the fountain's brim,
    With baffled thirst and famine grim;
    For the stream is shrunk from its marble bed
    Where Desolation's dust is spread
    B. ["August 5, 1813, in last of 3rd or first of 4th ed."]
    The lonely Spider's thin grey pall
    Is curtained o'er the splendid wall—
    The Bat builds in his mother's bower;
    And in the fortress of his power
    The Owl hath fixed her beacon-tower,
    The wild dog howls o'er the fountain's brink,
    But vainly lolls his tongue to drink
  25. The silver dew of coldness sprinkling
    In drops fantastically twinkling
    As from the spring the silver dew
    In whirls fantastically flew
    And dashed luxurious coolness round
    The air—and verdure on the ground
  26. For thirsty Fox and Jackal gaunt
    May vainly for its waters pant.—[MS.]
    or, The famished fox the wild dog gaunt
    May vainly for its waters pant.—[MS.]
  27. Might strike an echo ———.—[MS.]
  28. And welcome Life though but in one
    For many a gilded chamber's there
    Unmeet for Solitude to share
  29. To share the Master's "bread and salt."—[MS.]
  30. And cold Hospitality shrinks from the labour,
    The slave fled his halter and the serf left his labour
    or, Ah! there Hospitality light is thy labour,
    or, Ah! who for the traveller's solace will labour!—[MS.]
    The emendation of line 335 made that of line 343 unnecessary, but both emendations were accepted.
    (Moore says {Life p. 191, note) that the directions are written on a separate slip of paper from the letter to Murray of October 3, 1813).]
  31. Take ye and give ye that salam,
    That says of Moslem faith I am
  32. Which one of yonder barks may wait.—[MS.]
  33. If caught, to fate alike betrayed.—[MS.]
  34. i. Than feeling we must feel no more.—[MS.]
  35. Of Ladye-love—and dart—and chain—
    And fire that raged in every vein
  36. Even now alone, yet undismayed,—
    I know no friend, and ask no aid
  37. Which now I view with trembling spark.—[MS.]
  38. Then lay me with the nameless dead.—[MS.]
  39. Nor whether most he mourned none knew,
    For her he loved—or him he slew

Footnotes designated by Decimal numbers

  1. A tomb above the rocks on the promontory, by some supposed the sepulchre of Themistocles.
    ["There are," says Cumberland, in his Observer, "a few lines by Plato upon the tomb of Themistocles, which have a turn of elegant and pathetic simplicity in them, that deserves a better translation than I can give—

    "'By the sea's margin, on the watery strand,
    Thy monument, Themistocles, shall stand:
    By this directed to thy native shore,
    The merchant shall convey his freighted store;
    And when our fleets arc summoned to the fight
    Athens shall conquer with thy tomb in sight.'"

    Note to Edition 1832.

    The traditional site of the tomb of Themistocles, "a rock-hewn grave on the very margin of the sea generally covered with water," adjoins the lighthouse, which stands on the westernmost promontory of the Piræus, some three quarters of a mile from the entrance to the harbour. Plutarch, in his Themistocles (cap. xxxii.), is at pains to describe the exact site of the "altar-like tomb," and quotes the passage from Plato (the comic poet, B.C. 428-389) which Cumberland paraphrases. Byron and Hobhouse "made the complete circuit of the peninsula of Munychia," January 18, 1810.—Travels in Albania, 1858, i. 317, 318.]

  2. The attachment of the nightingale to the rose is a well-known Persian fable. If I mistake not, the "Bulbul of a thousand tales" is one of his appellations.
    [Thus Mesihi, as translated by Sir William Jones
    "Come, charming maid! and hear thy poet sing,
    Thyself the rose and he the bird of spring:
    Love bids him sing, and Love will be obey'd.
    Be gay: too soon the flowers of spring will fade."
    "The full style and title of the Persian nightingale {Pycnonotus hæmorrhous) is 'Bulbul-i-hazár-dástán,' usually shortened to 'Hazar' (bird of a thousand tales = the thousand), generally called 'Andalib.'" (See Arabian Nights, by Richard F. Burton, 1887; Supplemental Nights, iii. 506.) For the nightingale's attachment to the rose, compare Moore's Lalla Rookh

    "Oh! sooner shall the rose of May
    Mistake her own sweet nightingale," etc.
    (Ed. "Chandos Classics," p. 423)

    and Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (stanza vi.)—

    "And David's lips are lockt; but in divine
    High piping Pehlevi, with 'Wine! Wine! Wine!
    Red Wine!'—the Nightingale cries to the Rose
    That sallow cheek of hers to incarnadine."
    Rubáiyát, etc., 1899, p. 29, and note, p. 62.

    Byron was indebted for his information to a note on a passage in Vathek, by S. Henley (Vathek, 1893, p. 217).]

  3. The guitar is the constant amusement of the Greek sailor by night; with a steady fair wind, and during a calm, it is accompanied always by the voice, and often by dancing.
  4. [Compare "Beyond Milan the country wore the aspect of a wider devastation; and though everything seemed more quiet, the repose was like that of death spread over features which retain the impression of the last convulsions."—Mysteries of Udolpho, by Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, 1794, ii. 29.]
  5. "Aye, but to die, and go we know not where;
    To lie in cold obstruction?"
    Measure for Measure, act iii. sc. I, lines 115, 116.
    [Compare, too, Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza iv. line 5.]
  6. I trust that few of my readers have ever had an opportunity of witnessing what is here attempted in description; but those who have will probably retain a painful remembrance of that singular beauty which pervades, with few exceptions, the features of the dead, a few hours, and but for a few hours, after "the spirit is not there." It is to be remarked in cases of violent death by gun-shot wounds, the expression is always that of languor, whatever the natural energy of the sufferer's character; but in death from a stab the countenance preserves its traits of feeling or ferocity, and the mind its bias, to the last. [According to Medwin (1824, 4to, p. 223), an absurd charge, based on the details of this note, was brought against Byron, that he had been guilty of murder, and spoke from experience.]
  7. [In Dallaway's Constantinople (p. 2) [Rev. James Dallaway (1763- 1834) published Constantinople Ancient and Modern, etc., in 1797] a book which Lord Byron is not unlikely to have consulted, I find a passage quoted from Gillies' History of Greece (vol. i. p. 335), which contains, perhaps, the first seed of the thought thus expanded into full perfection by genius: "The present state of Greece, compared to the ancient, is the silent obscurity of the grave contrasted with the vivid lustre of active life."—Moore, Note to Edition 1832.]
  8. [From hence to the conclusion of the paragraph, the MS. is written in a hurried and almost illegible hand, as if these splendid lines had been poured forth in one continuous burst of poetic feeling, which would hardly allow time for the pen to follow the imagination.—(Note to Edition 1837. The lines were added to the Second Edition.)]
  9. [Compare—
    "Son of the Morning, rise I approach you here!"
    Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza iii. line i.]
  10. Athens is the property of the Kislar Aga [kizlar-aghasî] (the slave of the Seraglio and guardian of the women), who appoints the Waywode. A pander and eunuch—these are not polite, yet true
    appellations—now governs the governor of Athens!
    [ Hobhouse maintains that this subordination of the waivodes (or vaivodes = the Sclavic βοεβόδα) (Turkish governors of Athens) to a higher Turkish official, was on the whole favourable to the liberties and well-being of the Athenians.—Travels in Albania, 1858, i. 246.]
  11. [The reciter of the tale is a Turkish fisherman, who has been employed during the day in the gulf of Ægina, and in the evening, apprehensive of the Mainote pirates who infest the coast of Attica, lands with his boat on the harbour of Port Leone, the ancient Piræus. He becomes the eye-witness of nearly all the incidents in the story, and in one of them is a principal agent. It is to his feelings, and particularly to his religious prejudices, that we are indebted for some of the most forcible and splendid parts of the poem.—Note by George Agar Ellis, 1797-1833.]
  12. [In Dr. Clarke's Travels (Edward Daniel Clarke, 1769-1822, published Travels in Europe, Asia, Africa, 1810-24), this word, which means infidel, is always written according to its English pronunciation, Djour. Byron adopted the Italian spelling usual among the Franks of the Levant,—Note to Edition 1832.
    The pronunciation of the word depends on its origin. If it is associated with the Arabic jawr, a "deviating" or "erring," the initial consonant would be soft, but if with the Persian gawr, or guebrey "a fire-worshipper," the word should be pronounced Gow-er—as Gower Street has come to be pronounced. It is to be remarked that to the present day the Nestorians of Urumiah are contemned as Gy-ours (the G hard), by their Mohammedan countrymen.—(From information kindly supplied by Mr. A. G. Ellis, of the Oriental Printed Books and MSS. Department, British Museum.)]
  13. [Compare—
    "A moment now he slacked his speed,
    A moment breathed his panting steed."
    Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto I. stanza xxvii. lines 1, 2.]
  14. "Tophaike," musket. The Bairam is announced by the cannon at sunset: the illumination of the mosques, and the firing of all kinds of small arms, loaded with ball, proclaim it during the night.
    [The Bairâm, the Moslem Easter, a festival of three days, succeeded the Ramazân,
    For the illumination of the mosques during the fast of the Ramazan, see Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza lv. line 5, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 134, note 2.
  15. [For "hasty," all the editions till the twelfth read "darkening blush." On the back of a copy of the eleventh, Lord Byron has written, "Why did not the printer attend to the solitary correction so repeatedly made? I have no copy of this, and desire to have none till my request is complied with."—Notes to Editions 1832, 1837.]
  16. Jerreed, or Djerrid [Jarïd], a blunted Turkish javelin, which is darted from horseback with great force and precision. It is a favourite exercise of the Mussulmans; but I know not if it can be called a manly one, since the most expert in the art are the Black Eunuchs of Constantinople. I think, next to these, a Mamlouk at Smyrna was the most skilful that came within my observation.
    [Lines 250, 251, together with the note, were inserted in the Third Edition.]
  17. ["Lord Byron told Mr. Murray that he took this idea from one of the Arabian tales—that in which the Sultan puts his head into a butt of water, and, though it remains there for only two or three minutes, he imagines that he lives many years during that time. The story had been quoted by Addison in the Spectator" [No. 94, June 18, 1711].—Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 219, note.
  18. [Lines 271-276 were added in the Third Edition. The MS. proceeds with a direction (dated July 31, 1813) to the printer—
    "And alter
    "'A life of woe—an age of crime—'
    "'A life of pain—an age of crime.'
    Alter also the lines
    "'On him who loves or hates or fears
    Such moment holds a thousand years,'
    "'O'er him who loves or hates or fears
    Such moment pours the grief of years.'"]
  19. The blast of the desert, fatal to everything living, and often alluded to in Eastern poetry.
    [ James Bruce, 1730-1794 (nicknamed "Abyssinian Bruce"), gives a remarkable description of the simoom: "I saw from the south-east a haze come, in colour like the purple part of the rainbow, but not so compressed or thick. It did not occupy twenty yards in breadth, and was about twelve feet high from the ground. It was a kind of blush upon the air, and it moved very rapidly. . . . We all lay flat on the ground . . . till it was blown over. The meteor, or purple haze, which I saw was, indeed, passed, but the light air which still blew was of a heat to threaten suffocation." He goes on to say that he did not recover the effect of the sandblast on his chest for nearly two years (Bruce's Life and Travels, ed. 1830, p. 470).—Note to Edition 1832.]
  20. [Compare "The walls of Balclutha were desolated. . . . The stream of Clutha was removed from its place by the fall of the walls. The fox looked out from the windows" (Ossian's Balclutha). "The dreary night-owl screams in the solitary retreat of his mouldering ivy-covered tower" [Larnul, or the Song of Despair: Poems of Ossian, discovered by the Baron de Harold, 1787, p. 172). Compare, too, the well-known lines, "The spider holds the veil in the palace of Cæsar; the owl stands sentinel on the watch-tower of Afrasyab" {A Grammar of the Persian Language, by Sir W. Jones, 1809, p. 106). See, too, Gibbon's Decline and Fall, 1826, iii. 378.]
  21. ["I have just recollected an alteration you may make in the proof. . . . Among the lines on Hassan's Serai, is this—'Unmeet for Solitude to share.' Now, to share implies more than one, and Solitude is a single gentlewoman: it must be thus—
    "'For many a gilded chamber's there,
    Which Solitude might well forbear;'
    and so on. Will you adopt this correction? and pray accept a cheese from me for your trouble."—Letter to John Murray, Stilton, October 3, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 274.]
  22. [To partake of food—to break bread and taste salt with your host, ensures the safety of the guest: even though an enemy, his person from that moment becomes sacred.—(Note appended to Letter of October 3, 1813.)
    "I leave this {vide supra, note l) to your discretion; if anybody thinks the old line a good one or the cheese a bad one, don't accept either. But in that case the word share is repeated soon after in the line—
    "'To share the master's bread and salt;'
    and must be altered to—
    "'To break the master's bread and salt.'
    This is not so well, though—confound it!"
    "If the old line ['Unmeet for Solitude to share'] stands, let the other run thus—
    "'Nor there will weary traveller halt,
    To bless the sacred bread and salt.'
    (P.S. to Murray, October 3, 1813.)
  23. I need hardly observe, that Charity and Hospitality are the first duties enjoined by Mahomet; and to say truth, very generally practised by his disciples. The first praise that can be bestowed on a chief is a panegyric on his bounty; the next, on his valour. ["Serve God . . . and show kindness unto parents, and relations, and orphans, and the poor, and your neighbour who is of kin to you . . . and the traveller, and the captives," etc.—Qur'ân, cap. iv.
    Lines 350, 351 were inserted in the Fifth Edition.]
  24. The ataghan, a long dagger worn with pistols in the belt, in a metal scabbard, generally of silver; and, among the wealthier, gilt, or of gold.
  25. Green is the privileged colour of the prophet's numerous pretended descendants; with them, as here, faith (the family inheritance) is supposed to supersede the necessity of good works: they are the worst of a very indifferent brood.
  26. "Salam aleikoum! aleikoum salam!" peace be with you; be with you peace—the salutation reserved for the faithful:—to a Christian, "Urlarula!" a good journey; or "saban hiresem, saban serula," good morn, good even; and sometimes, "may your end be happy!" are the usual salutes.
    ["After both sets of prayers, Farz and Sunnah, the Moslem looks over his right shoulder, and says, 'The Peace (of Allah) be upon you and the ruth of Allah,' and repeats the words over the left shoulder. The salutation is addressed to the Guardian Angels, or to the bystanders (Moslem), who, however, do not return it."—Arabian Nights, by Richard F. Burton, 1887: Supplemental Nights, i. 14, note.
  27. [In the MS. and the first five editions the broken line (373) consisted of two words only, "That one."]
  28. The blue-winged butterfly of Kashmeer, the most rare and beautiful of the species.
    [The same insects (butterflies of Cachemir) are celebrated in an unpublished poem of Mesihi. . . . Sir Anthony Shirley relates that it was customary in Persia "to hawk after butterflies with sparrows, made to that use."—Note by S. Henley to Vathek, ed. 1893, p. 222.
    Byron, in his Journal, December 1, 1813, speaks of Lady Charlemont as "that blue-winged Kashmirian butterfly of book-learning."]
  29. Phingari, the moon, [Φεγγάρι is derived from φεγγάριον, dim. of φέγγος.]
  30. The celebrated fabulous ruby of Sultan Giamschid, the embellisher of Istakhar; from its splendour, named Schebgerag [Schabchirāgh], "the torch of night;" also "the cup of the sun," etc. In
  31. I, The pelican is, I believe, the bird so libelled, by the imputation of feeding her chickens with her blood. [It has been suggested that the curious bloody secretion ejected from the mouth of the flamingo may have given rise to the belief, through that bird having been mistaken for the "pelican of the wilderness."—Encycl. Brit., art. "Pelican" (by Professor A. Newton), xviii. 474.]
  32. [Lines 1127-1130 were inserted in the Seventh Edition. They recall the first line of Plato's epitaph, Ἀστὴρ πρὶν μὲν ἔλαμπες ἐνὶ ζωοῖσιν ἑῷος, which Byron prefixed to his "Epitaph on a Beloved Friend" (Poetical Works, 1898, i. 18), and which, long afterwards, Shelley chose as the motto to his Adonais.
  33. [The hundred and twenty-six lines which follow, down to "Tell me no more of Fancy's gleam," first appeared in the Fifth Edition. In returning the proof to Murray, Byron writes, August 26, 1813, "The last lines Hodgson likes—it is not often he does—and when he don't, he tells me with great energy, and I fret and alter. I have thrown them in to soften the ferocity of our Infidel, and, for a dying man, have given him a good deal to say for himself,"—Letters, 1898, ii. 252.]
  34. "Symar," a shroud. [Cymar, or simar, is a long loose robe worn by women. It is, perhaps, the same word as the Spanish zamarra (Arabic çamârra), a sheep-skin cloak. It is equivalent to "shroud" only in the primary sense of a "covering."]
  35. The circumstance to which the above story relates was not very uncommon in Turkey. A few years ago the wife of Muchtar Pacha complained to his father of his son's supposed infidelity; he asked with whom, and she had the barbarity to give in a list of the twelve handsomest women in Yanina. They were seized, fastened up in sacks, and drowned in the lake the same night! One of the guards who was present informed me that not one of the victims uttered a cry, or showed a symptom of terror at so sudden a "wrench from all we know, from all we love." The fate of Phrosine, the fairest of this sacrifice, is the subject of many a Romaic and Arnaout ditty. The story in the text is one told of a young Venetian many years ago, and now nearly forgotten. I heard it by accident recited by one of the coffee-house story-tellers who abound in the Levant, and sing or recite their narratives. The additions and interpolations by the translator will be easily distinguished from the rest, by the want of Eastern imagery; and I regret that my memory has retained so few fragments of the original. For the contents of some of the notes I am indebted partly to D'Herbelot, and partly to that most Eastern, and, as Mr. Weber justly entitles it, "sublime tale," the "Caliph Vathek," I do not know from what source the author of that singular volume may have drawn his materials; some of his incidents are to be found in the Bibliotheque Orientale; but for correctness of costume, beauty of description, and power of imagination, it far surpasses all European imitations, and bears such marks of originality that those who have visited the East will find some difficulty in believing it to be more than a translation. As an Eastern tale, even Rasselas must bow before it; his "Happy Valley" will not bear a comparison with the "Hall of Eblis." [See Childe Harold, Canto I. stanza xxii, line 6, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 37, note i.
    "Mansour Effendi tells the story vide supra, line 6) thus: Frosini was niece of the Archbishop of Joannina. Mouctar Pasha ordered her to come to his harem, and her father advised her to go; she did so. Mouctar, among other presents, gave her a ring of great value, which she wished to sell, and gave it for that purpose to a merchant, who offered it to the wife of Mouctar. That lady recognized the jewel as her own, and, discovering the intrigue, complained to Ali Pasha, who, the next night, seized her himself in his own house, and ordered her to be drowned. Mansour Effendi says he had the story from the brother and son of Frosini. This son was a child of six years old, and was in bed in his mother's chamber when Ali came to carry away his mother to death. He had a confused recollection of the horrid scene."—Travels in Albania, 1858, i. III, note 6.
    The concluding note, like the poem, was built up sentence by sentence. Lines 1-12, "forgotten," are in the MS. Line 12, "I heard," to line 17, "original," were added in the Second Edition. The next sentence, "For the contents" to "Vathek," was inserted in the Third; and the concluding paragraph, "I do not know" to the end, in the Fourth Editions.]