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Not in those climes where I have late been straying,
Though Beauty long hath there been matchless deem'd ;
Not in those visions to the heart displaying
Forms which it sighs but to have only dream’d,
Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seem'd:
Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek
To paint those charms which varied as they beam’d-
To such as see thee not my words were weak;
To those who gaze on thee what language could they
Ah! may'st 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 mix'd 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 number'd, should this homage past
Attract thy fairy fingers near the lyre
Of him who hail'd thee, loveliest as thou wast,
Such is the most my memory may desire;
Though more than Hope can claim, could Friendship less
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.
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 honey'd lies of rhyme,
Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
Childe Harold bask'd him in the noon-tide 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 loathed 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 spoild 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;
'Tis 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 fathers' 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.