Imágenes de página
PDF

position I have attempted not the most difficult, but, perhaps, the best adapted measure to our language, the good old and now neglected heroic couplet. The stanza of Spenser is perhaps too slow and dignified for narrative ; though, I confess, it is the measure most after my own heart: Scott alone, of the present generation, has hitherto completely triumphed over the fatal facility of the octosyllabic verse; and this is not the least victory of his fertile and mighty genius : in blank verse, Milton, Thomson, and our dramatists, are the beacons that shine along the deep, but warn us from the rough and barren rock on which they are kindled. The heroic couplet is not the most popular measure certainly; but as I did not deviate into the other from a wish to flatter what is called public opinion, I shall quit it without further apology, and take my chance once more with that versification, in which I have hitherto published nothing but compositions whose former circulation is part of my present and will be of my future regret.

With regard to my story, and stories in general, I should have been glad to have rendered my personages more perfect and amiable, if possible, inasmuch as I have been sometimes criticised, and considered no less responsible for their deeds and qualities than if all had been personal. Be it so-if I have deviated into the gloomy vanity of " drawing

from self,” the pictures are probably like, since they are unfavourable; and if not, those who know me are undeceived, and those who do not, I have little interest in undeceiving. I have no particular desire that any but my acquaintance should think the author better than the beings of his imagining; but I cannot help a little surprise, and perhaps amusement, at some odd critical exceptions in the present instance, when I see several bards (far more deserving, I allow) in very reputable plight, and quite exempted from all participation in the faults of those heroes, who, nevertheless, might be found with little more morality than “ The Giaour,” and perhaps--but no-I must admit Childe Harold to be a very repulsive personage ; and as to his identity, those who like it must give him whatever "alias" they please.

If, however, it were worth while to remove the impression, it might be of some service to me, that the man who is alike the delight of his readers and his friends, the poet of all circles, and the idol of his own, permits me here and elsewhere to subscribe myself, most truly, and affectionately, his obedient servant,

BYRON, January 2, 1814. .

[blocks in formation]

O'ER the glad waters of the dark blue sea, “Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, “Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam, “ Survey our empire and behold our home! “ These are our realms, no limits to their swaya 5 “Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey. “ Ours the wild life in tumult still to range. “ From toil to rest, and joy in every change.

Oh, who can tell ? not thou, luxurious slave! " Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wate; 10 “ Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease! “ Whom slumbersoothes not--pleasure cannot please.. “Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried, 6 And danc'd in triumph o'er the waters wide,

6 The exulting sense—the pulse's maddening play, 15 “ That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way? “ That for itself can woo the approaching fight, “ And turn what some deem danger to delight; 6. That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal, “ And where the feebler faint-can only feel 20 “ Feel-to the rising bosom's inmost core, “ Its hope awaken and its spirit soar ? - No dread of death--if with us die our foes— 6. Save that it seems even duller than repose:

Come when it will-we snatch the life of life- 25 “ When lost-what recks it-by disease or strife ? “ Let him who crawls enamour'd of decay, “ Cling to his couch, and sicken years away; “Heave his thick breath; and shake his palsied head; “ Ours--the fresh turf, and not the feverish bed. 30 “ While gasp by gasp he falters forth his soul, “ Ours with one pang-one bound-escapes control. “ His corse may boast its urn and narrow cave, “ And they who loath'd his life may gild his grave: “ Ours are the tears, though few, sincerely shed, 35. “ When Ocean shrouds and sepulchres our dead. For us, even banquets fond regret supply “ In the red cup that crowns our memory; “ And the brief epitaph in danger's day, 66 When those who win at length divide the prey, 40 “ And cry, Remembrance saddening o'er each brow -" How had the brave who fell exulted now !"

II. Such were the notes that from the Pirate's isle, Around the kindling watch-fire rang the while; Such were the sounds that thrill’d the rocks along, 45 And unto ears as rugged seem'd a song! · In scatter'd groups upon the golden sand, They game-carouse-converse-or whet the brand; Select the arms—to each his biåde assign, And careless eye the blood that dims its shine: 50 Repair the boat, replace the helm or oar, While others straggling muse along the shore ; For the wild bird the busy springes set, Or spread beneath the sun the dripping net; Gaze where some distant sail a speck supplies, 55 With all the thirsting eye of Enterprise ; Tell o'er the tales of many a night of toil, And marvel where they next shall seize a spoil : No matter where—their chief's allotment this ; Theirs, to believe no prey nor plan amiss. 60 But who that Chief? his name on every shore Is famed and fear'd--they ask and know no more. With these he mingles not but to command ; Few are his words, but keen his eye and hand. · Ne'er seasons he with mirth their jovial mess, But they forgive his silence for success. Ne'er for his lip the purpling cup they fill, That goblet passes him untasted still-

VOL. 11.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »