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- Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - 1/32 -


CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE, BY LORD BYRON.

Contents

To Ianthe Canto the First Canto the Second Canto the Third Canto the Fourth

TO IANTHE. {1}

Not in those climes where I have late been straying, Though Beauty long hath there been matchless deemed, Not in those visions to the heart displaying Forms which it sighs but to have only dreamed, Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seemed: Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek To paint those charms which varied as they beamed - To such as see thee not my words were weak; To those who gaze on thee, what language could they speak?

Ah! mayst thou ever be what now thou art, Nor unbeseem the promise of thy spring, As fair in form, as warm yet pure in heart, Love's image upon earth without his wing, And guileless beyond Hope's imagining! And surely she who now so fondly rears Thy youth, in thee, thus hourly brightening, Beholds the rainbow of her future years, Before whose heavenly hues all sorrow disappears.

Young Peri of the West!--'tis well for me My years already doubly number thine; My loveless eye unmoved may gaze on thee, And safely view thy ripening beauties shine: Happy, I ne'er shall see them in decline; Happier, that while all younger hearts shall bleed Mine shall escape the doom thine eyes assign To those whose admiration shall succeed, But mixed with pangs to Love's even loveliest hours decreed.

Oh! let that eye, which, wild as the gazelle's, Now brightly bold or beautifully shy, Wins as it wanders, dazzles where it dwells, Glance o'er this page, nor to my verse deny That smile for which my breast might vainly sigh, Could I to thee be ever more than friend: This much, dear maid, accord; nor question why To one so young my strain I would commend, But bid me with my wreath one matchless lily blend.

Such is thy name with this my verse entwined; And long as kinder eyes a look shall cast On Harold's page, Ianthe's here enshrined Shall thus be first beheld, forgotten last: My days once numbered, should this homage past Attract thy fairy fingers near the lyre Of him who hailed thee, loveliest as thou wast, Such is the most my memory may desire; Though more than Hope can claim, could Friendship less require?

CANTO THE FIRST.

I.

Oh, thou, in Hellas deemed of heavenly birth, Muse, formed 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 wandered by thy vaunted rill; Yes! sighed 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.

II.

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 vexed 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 coffined clay, Nor florid prose, nor honeyed lines of rhyme, Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.

IV.

Childe Harold basked him in the noontide sun, Disporting there like any other fly, Nor deemed before his little day was done One blast might chill him into misery. But long ere scarce a third of his passed by, Worse than adversity the Childe befell; He felt the fulness of satiety: Then loathed he in his native land to dwell, Which seemed to him more lone than eremite's sad cell.

V.

For he through Sin's long labyrinth had run, Nor made atonement when he did amiss, Had sighed 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 spoiled her goodly lands to gild his waste, Nor calm domestic peace had ever deigned to taste.

VI.

And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart, And from his fellow bacchanals would flee; 'Tis said, at times the sullen tear would start, But pride congealed the drop within his e'e: Apart he stalked in joyless reverie, And from his native land resolved to go, And visit scorching climes beyond the sea; With pleasure drugged, he almost longed for woe, And e'en for change of scene would seek the shades below.

VII.

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 pillared in each massy aisle. Monastic dome! condemned 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 ofttimes in his maddest mirthful mood, Strange pangs would flash along Childe Harold's brow, As if the memory of some deadly feud Or disappointed passion lurked 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.

IX.

And none did love him: though to hall and bower He gathered revellers from far and near, He knew them flatterers 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.

X.

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, he bade adieu to none. Yet deem not thence his breast a breast of steel; Ye, who have known what 'tis to dote upon A few dear objects, will in sadness feel Such partings break the heart they fondly hope to heal.

XI.


Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - 1/32

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