The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/To a Lady who Presented to the Author a Lock of Hair Braided with his own, and appointed a Night in December to meet him in the Garden
TO A LADY WHO PRESENTED TO THE AUTHOR A LOCK OF HAIR BRAIDED WITH HIS OWN, AND APPOINTED A NIGHT IN DECEMBER TO MEET HIM IN THE GARDEN.
These locks, which fondly thus entwine,
In firmer chains our hearts confine,
Than all th' unmeaning protestations
Which swell with nonsense, love orations.
Our love is fix'd, I think we've prov'd it;
Nor time, nor place, nor art have mov'd it;
Then wherefore should we sigh and whine,
With groundless jealousy repine;
With silly whims, and fancies frantic,
Merely to make our love romantic?
Why should you weep, like Lydia Languish,
And fret with self-created anguish?
Or doom the lover you have chosen,
On winter nights to sigh half frozen;
In leafless shades, to sue for pardon,
Only because the scene's a garden?
For gardens seem, by one consent,
(Since Shakespeare set the precedent;
Since Juliet first declar'd her passion)
To form the place of assignation.
Oh! would some modern muse inspire,
And seat her by a sea-coal fire;
Or had the bard at Christmas written,
And laid the scene of love in Britain;
He surely, in commiseration,
Had chang'd the place of declaration.
In Italy, I've no objection,
Warm nights are proper for reflection;
But here our climate is so rigid,
That love itself, is rather frigid:
Think on our chilly situation,
And curb this rage for imitation.
Then let us meet, as oft we've done,
Beneath the influence of the sun;
Or, if at midnight I must meet you,
Within your mansion let me greet you:
There we can love for hours together,
Much better, in such snowy weather,
Than plac'd in all th' Arcadian groves,
That ever witness'd rural loves;
Then if my passion fail to please
Next night I'll be content to freeze;
No more I'll give a loose to laughter,
But curse my fate, for ever after.
- [These lines are addressed to the same Mary referred to in the lines beginning, "This faint resemblance of thy charms." (Vide ante, p. 32.)]
- Oh! let me in your chamber greet you.—[4to]
- There if my passion.—[4to. P. on V. Occasions.]
- In the above little piece the author has been accused by some candid readers of introducing the name of a lady [Julia Leacroft] from whom he was some hundred miles distant at the time this was written; and poor Juliet, who has slept so long in "the tomb of all the Capulets," has been converted, with a trifling alteration of her name, into an English damsel, walking in a garden of their own creation, during the month of December, in a village where the author never passed a winter. Such has been the candour of some ingenious critics. We would advise these liberal commentators on taste and arbiters of decorum to read Shakespeare. Having heard that a very severe and indelicate censure has been passed on the above poem, I beg leave to reply in a quotation from an admired work, Carr's Stranger in France.—"As we were contemplating a painting on a large scale, in which, among other figures, is the uncovered whole length of a warrior, a prudish-looking lady, who seemed to have touched the age of desperation, after having attentively surveyed it through her glass, observed to her party that there was a great deal of indecorum in that picture. Madame S. shrewdly whispered in my ear 'that the indecorum was in the remark.'"—[Ed. 1803, cap. xvi. p. 171. Compare the note on verses addressed "To a Knot of Ungenerous Critics," p. 213.]