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The Works of Lord Byron Volume III Part 47

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Its lips are silent--twice his own essayed, And failed to frame the question they delayed; He s.n.a.t.c.hed the lamp--its light will answer all-- It quits his grasp, expiring in the fall. 1760 He would not wait for that reviving ray-- As soon could he have lingered there for day; But, glimmering through the dusky corridor, Another chequers o'er the shadowed floor; His steps the chamber gain--his eyes behold All that his heart believed not--yet foretold!

XX.

He turned not--spoke not--sunk not--fixed his look, And set the anxious frame that lately shook: He gazed--how long we gaze despite of pain, And know, but dare not own, we gaze in vain! 1770 In life itself she was so still and fair, That Death with gentler aspect withered there; And the cold flowers[235] her colder hand contained, In that last grasp as tenderly were strained As if she scarcely felt, but feigned a sleep-- And made it almost mockery yet to weep: The long dark lashes fringed her lids of snow, And veiled--Thought shrinks from all that lurked below--Oh!

o'er the eye Death most exerts his might,[236]

And hurls the Spirit from her throne of light; 1780 Sinks those blue orbs in that long last eclipse, But spares, as yet, the charm around her lips-- Yet, yet they seem as they forebore to smile, And wished repose,--but only for a while; But the white shroud, and each extended tress, Long, fair--but spread in utter lifelessness, Which, late the sport of every summer wind, Escaped the baffled wreath that strove to bind;[im]

These--and the pale pure cheek, became the bier-- But She is nothing--wherefore is he here? 1790

XXI.

He asked no question--all were answered now By the first glance on that still, marble brow.[in]

It was enough--she died--what recked it how?

The love of youth, the hope of better years, The source of softest wishes, tenderest fears, The only living thing he could not hate, Was reft at once--and he deserved his fate, But did not feel it less;--the Good explore, For peace, those realms where Guilt can never soar: The proud, the wayward--who have fixed below 1800 Their joy, and find this earth enough for woe, Lose in that one their all--perchance a mite-- But who in patience parts with all delight?

Full many a stoic eye and aspect stern Mask hearts where Grief hath little left to learn; And many a withering thought lies hid, not lost, In smiles that least befit who wear them most.

XXII.

By those, that deepest feel, is ill exprest The indistinctness of the suffering breast; Where thousand thoughts begin to end in one, 1810 Which seeks from all the refuge found in none; No words suffice the secret soul to show, For Truth denies all eloquence to Woe.

On Conrad's stricken soul Exhaustion prest, And Stupor almost lulled it into rest; So feeble now--his mother's softness crept To those wild eyes, which like an infant's wept: It was the very weakness of his brain, Which thus confessed without relieving pain.

None saw his trickling tears--perchance, if seen, 1820 That useless flood of grief had never been: Nor long they flowed--he dried them to depart, In helpless--hopeless--brokenness of heart: The Sun goes forth, but Conrad's day is dim: And the night cometh--ne'er to pa.s.s from him.[io]

There is no darkness like the cloud of mind, On Grief's vain eye--the blindest of the blind!

Which may not--dare not see--but turns aside To blackest shade--nor will endure a guide!

XXIII.[237]

His heart was formed for softness--warped to wrong, 1830 Betrayed too early, and beguiled too long; Each feeling pure--as falls the dropping dew Within the grot--like that had hardened too; Less clear, perchance, its earthly trials pa.s.sed, But sunk, and chilled, and petrified at last.[238]

Yet tempests wear, and lightning cleaves the rock; If such his heart, so shattered it the shock.

There grew one flower beneath its rugged brow, Though dark the shade--it sheltered--saved till now.

The thunder came--that bolt hath blasted both, 1840 The Granite's firmness, and the Lily's growth: The gentle plant hath left no leaf to tell Its tale, but shrunk and withered where it fell; And of its cold protector, blacken round But shivered fragments on the barren ground!

XXIV.

'Tis morn--to venture on his lonely hour Few dare; though now Anselmo sought his tower.

He was not there, nor seen along the sh.o.r.e; Ere night, alarmed, their isle is traversed o'er: Another morn--another bids them seek, 1850 And shout his name till Echo waxeth weak; Mount--grotto--cavern--valley searched in vain, They find on sh.o.r.e a sea-boat's broken chain: Their hope revives--they follow o'er the main.

'Tis idle all--moons roll on moons away, And Conrad comes not, came not since that day: Nor trace nor tidings of his doom declare Where lives his grief, or perished his despair!

Long mourned his band whom none could mourn beside; And fair the monument they gave his Bride: 1860 For him they raise not the recording stone-- His death yet dubious, deeds too widely known; He left a Corsair's name to other times, Linked with one virtue, and a thousand crimes.[239]

FOOTNOTES:

[194] {223} [This political allusion having been objected to by a friend, Byron composed a second dedication, which he sent to Moore, with a request that he would "take his choice." Moore chose the original dedication, which was accordingly prefixed to the First Edition. The alternative ran as follows:--

"_January_ 7th, 1814.

My dear Moore,

I had written to you a long letter of dedication, which I suppress, because, though it contained something relating to you, which every one had been glad to hear, yet there was too much about politics and poesy, and all things whatsoever, ending with that topic on which most men are fluent, and none very amusing,--_one's self_. It might have been re-written; but to what purpose? My praise could add nothing to your well-earned and firmly established fame; and with my most hearty admiration of your talents, and delight in your conversation, you are already acquainted. In availing myself of your friendly permission to inscribe this poem to you, I can only wish the offering were as worthy your acceptance, as your regard is dear to Yours, most affectionately and faithfully, Byron."]

[195] {224} [After the words, "Scott alone," Byron had inserted, in a parenthesis, "He will excuse the '_Mr_.'--we do not say _Mr_. Caesar."]

[196] {225} ["It is difficult to say whether we are to receive this pa.s.sage as an admission or a denial of the opinion to which it refers; but Lord Byron certainly did the public injustice, if he supposed it imputed to him the criminal actions with which many of his heroes were stained. Men no more expected to meet in Lord Byron the Corsair, who 'knew himself a villain,' than they looked for the hypocrisy of Kehama on the sh.o.r.es of the Derwent Water; yet even in the features of Conrad, those who had looked on Lord Byron will recognize the likeness--

"'To the sight No giant frame sets forth his common height;

Sun-burnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale The sable curls in wild profusion veil....'"

Canto I. stanza ix.

--Sir Walter Scott, _Quart. Rev_., No. x.x.xi. October, 1816.]

[197] {227} The time in this poem may seem too short for the occurrences, but the whole of the aegean isles are within a few hours'

sail of the continent, and the reader must be kind enough to take the _wind_ as I have often found it.

[198] [Compare--"Survey the region, and confess her home." _Windsor Forest_, by A. Pope, line 256.]

[hk] {228} _Protract to age his painful doting day_.--[MS. erased.]

[hl] {230} _Her nation--flag--how tells the telescope_.--[MS.]

[199] [Compare _The Isle of Palms_, by John Wilson, Canto I. (1812, p.

8)--

"She sailed amid the loveliness Like a thing with heart and mind."]

[hm] {231} _Till creaks her keel upon the shallow sand_.--[MS.]

[hn] {234} _The haughtier thought his bosom ill conceals_.--[MS.]

[ho]

_He had the skill when prying souls would seek,_ _To watch his words and trace his pensive cheek_.--[MS.]

_His was the skill when prying, etc_.--[Revise.]

[200] {235} That Conrad is a character not altogether out of nature, I shall attempt to prove by some historical coincidences which I have met with since writing _The Corsair_.

"Eccelin, prisonnier," dit Rolandini, "s'enfermoit dans un silence menacant; il fixoit sur la terre son visage feroce, et ne donnoit point d'essor a sa profonde indignation. De toutes partes cependant les soldats et les peuples accouroient; ils vouloient voir cet homme, jadis si puissant ... et la joie universelle eclatoit de toutes partes....

Eccelino etoit d'une pet.i.te taille; mais tout l'aspect de sa personne, tous ses mouvemens, indiquoient un soldat. Son langage etoit amer, son deportement superbe, et par son seul regard, il faisoit trembler les plus hardis."--Simonde de Sismondi, _Histoire des Republiques Italiennes du Moyen Age_, 1809, iii. 219.

Again, "Gizericus [Genseric, king of the Vandals, the conqueror of both Carthage and Rome] ... statura mediocris, et equi casu claudicans, animo profundus, sermone ratus, luxuriae contemptor, ira turbidus, habendi cupidus, ad sollicitandas gentes providentissimus," etc., etc.--Jornandes, _De Getarum Origine_ ("De Rebus Geticis"), cap. 33, _ed._ 1597, p. 92.

I beg leave to quote those gloomy realities to keep in countenance my Giaour and Corsair.--[Added to the Ninth Edition.]

[201] [Stanza x. was an after-thought. It is included in a sixth revise, in which lines 244-246 have been erased, and the present reading superscribed. A seventh revise gives the text as above.]

[hp] {236} _Released but to convulse or freeze or glow!_ _Fire in the veins, or damps upon the brow_.--[MS.]

[hq]

_Behold his soul once seen not soon forgot!_ _All that there burns its hour away--but sears_ _The scathed Remembrance of long coming years_.--[MS.]

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The Works of Lord Byron Volume III Part 47 summary

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