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CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
OH, thou! in Hellas deem'd of heavenly birth,
Muse! form’d or fabled at the minstrel's will!
Since shamed full oft by later lyres on earth,
Mine dares not call thee from thy sacred hill:
Yet there I've wander'd by thy vaunted rill;
Yes! sigh'd o'er Delphi's long-deserted shrine,' ,
Where, save that feeble fountain, all is still;
Nor mote my shell awake the weary Nine
To grace so plain a tale—this lowly lay of mine.
Whilome in Albion's isle there dwelt a youth,
Who ne in virtue's ways did take delight;
But spent his days in riot most uncouth,
And vex'd with mirth the drowsy ear of night.
Ah, me! in sooth he was a shameless wight,
Sore given to revel and ungodly glee;
Few earthly things found favour in his sight
Save concubines and carnal companie,
And flaunting wassailers of high and low degree.
III. Childe Harold was he hight:—but whence his name And lineage long, it suits me not to say; Suffice it, that perchance they were of fame, And had been glorious in another day: But one sad losel soils a name for aye, However mighty in the olden time; Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay,
Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme, Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
Childe Harold bask'd him in the noontide sun,
Disporting there like any other fly;
Nor deem'd before his little day was done
One blast might chill him into misery.
But long ere scarce a third of his pass'd by,
Worse than adversity the Childe befell;
He felt the fulness of satiety:
Then loath'd he in his native land to dwell,
Which seem'd to him more lone than eremite's sad cell,
For he through sin's long labyrinth had run,
Nor made atonement when he did amiss,
Had sigh’d to many though he loved but one,
And that loved one, alas! could ne'er be his.
Ah, happy she! to 'scape from him whose kiss
Had been pollution unto aught so chaste;
Who soon had left her charms for vulgar bliss,
And spoil'd her goodly lands to gild his waste,
Nor calm domestic peace had ever deign'd to taste.
And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart,
And from his fellow bacchanals would flee;
'T is said, at times the sullen tear would start,
But pride congeal’d the drop within his ee:
Apart he stalk'd in joyless reverie,
And from his native land resolved to go,
And visit scorching climes beyond the sea;
With pleasure drugg’d, he almost long'd for woe,
And e'en for change of scene would seek the shades below.
The Childe departed from his father's hall:
It was a vast and venerable pile;
So old, it seemed only not to fall,
Yet strength was pillar'd in each massy aisle.
Monastic dome! condemn'd to uses vile!
Where superstition once had made her den
Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile;
And monks might deem their time was come agen,
If ancient tales say true, nor wrong these holy men.
VIII. Yet oft-times in the maddest mirthful mood Strange pangs would flash along Childe Harold's brow, As if the memory of some deadly feud Or disappointed passion lurkd below: But this none knew, nor haply cared to know; For his was not that open, artless soul That feels relief by bidding sorrow flow,
Nor sought he friend to counsel or condole, Whate'er this grief mote be, which he could not control.
And none did love him—though to hall and bower
He gather'd revellers from far and near,
He knew them flatt'rers of the festal hour;
The heartless parasites of present cheer.
Yea! none did love him—not his lemans dear-
But pomp and power alone are woman's care,
And where these are light Eros finds a feere;
Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare,
And Mammon wins his way where seraphs might despair.
Childe Harold had a mother-not forgot,
Though parting from that mother he did shun;
A sister whom he loved, but saw her not
Before his weary pilgrimage begun :
If friends he had, be bade adieu to none.
Yet deem not thence his breast a breast of steel;
Ye, who have known what 't is to dote upon · A few dear objects, will in sadness feel Such partings break the heart they fondly hope to heal.
XI. His house, his home, his heritage, his lands, The laughing dames in whom he did delight, Whose large blue eyes, fair locks, and snowy hands, Might shake the saintship of an anchorite, And long had fed his youthful appetite; His goblets brimm'd with every costly wine, And all that mote to luxury invite,
Without a sigh he left, to cross the brine, And traverse Paynim shores, and pass earth's central line,
The sails were fill’d, and fair the light winds blew,
As glad to waft him from his native home;
And fast the white rocks faded from his view,
And soon were lost in circumambient foam:
And then, it may be, of his wish to roam
Repented he, but in his bosom slept
The silent thought, nor from his lips did come
One word of wail, whilst others sate and wept,
And to the reckless gales unmanly moaning kept.
But when the sun was sinking in the sea
He seized his harp, which he at times could string,
And strike, albeit with untaught melody,
When deem'd he no strange ear was listening:
And now his fingers o'er it he did fling,
And tuned his farewell in the dim twilight,
While flew the vessel on her snowy wing,
And fleeting shores receded from his sight,
Thus to the elements he pour'd his last «Good Night.»
« Adieu, adieu! my native shore :
Fades o'er the waters blue;
The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild sea-mew.
Yon sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native land-Good night!
VOL. I. .