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WHEN COLDNESS WRAPS THIS
WHEN coldness wraps this suffering clay,
Ah! whither strays the immortal mind?
But leaves its darkened dust behind.
By steps each planet's heavenly way?
Eternal, boundless, undecayed,
A thought unseen, but seeing all,
Shall it survey, shall it recall:
And all that was at once appears.
1 This solemn strain of meditative verse reveals Byron's feeling in regard to death and the immortality of the soul.
Before Creation peopled earth,
Its eye shall roll through chaos back; And where the furthest heaven had birth,
The spirit trace its rising track.
Its glance dilate o'er all to be,
Fixed in its own eternity.
Above or Love, Hope, Hate, or Fear,
It lives all passionless and pure: An age shall fleet like earthly year;
Its years as moments shall endure. Away, away, without a wing,
O'er all, through all, its thought shall fly, A nameless and eternal thing,
Forgetting what it was to die.
ON THIS DAY I COMPLETE MY
MISSOLONGHI, January 22, 1824. 'Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move:
Still let me love!
My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
Are mine alone!
The fire that on my
preys Is lone as some volcanic isle; No torch is kindled at its blaze
A funeral pile.
The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
power of love, I cannot share,
But wear the chain.
1 Byron died April 19, 1824, about three months after writing this prophetic poem. The last stanza is a fit epitaph for the brave poet.
But 'tis not thus- and 'tis not here
Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now, Where glory decks the hero's bier,
Or binds his brow.
The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see! The Spartan, borne upon his shield,
Was not more free.
Awake! (not Greece-she is awake!)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom Thy lifeblood tracks its parent lake,
And then strike home!
Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy manhood! — unto thee Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of beauty be.
If thou regrett'st thy youth, why live?
The land of honorable death
Away thy breath!
Seek out— less often sought than found
A soldier's grave, for thee the best ;
And take thy rest.