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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.
(1) The little village of Castri stands partly on the site of Delphi. Along the path of the mountain, from Chrysso, are the remains of sepulchres hewn in and from the rock. “One,” said the guide, “ of a king who broke his neck hunting." His majesty had certainly chosen the fittest spot for such an achievement. A little above Castri is a cave, supposed the Pythian, of immense depth ; the upper part of it is paved, and now a cow-house. On the other side of Castri stands a Greek monastery ; some way above which is the cleft in the rock, with a range of caverns difficult of ascent, and apparently leading to the interior of the mountain ; probably to the Corycian Cavern mentioned by Pausanias. From this part descend the fountain and the “ Dews of Castalie.”
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 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 spoil'd her goodly lands to gild his waste,
Nor calm domestic peace had ever deigned 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 congeald 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.
Yet oft-times 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 lurk'd 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
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
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.
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."
“ Apieu, adieu ! my native shore
Fades o’er the waters blue;
The Night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild seamew.
Yon Sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native Land - Good Night!
" A few short hours and He will rise
To give the morrow birth ;
And I shall hail the main and skies,
But not my mother Earth.
Deserted is my own good hall,
Its hearth is desolate ;
Wild weeds are gathering on the wall ;
My dog howls at the gate.
• Come hither, hither, my little page!
Why dost thou weep and wail ?
Or dost thou dread the billows' rage,
Or tremble at the gale ?
But dash the tear-drop from thine eye;
Qur ship is swift and strong :
Our fleetest lalcon scarce can fly
More merrily along."
4. • Let winds be shrill, let waves roll high,
I fear not wave nor wind ;
Yet marvel not, Sir Childe, that I
Am sorrowful in mind ;
For I have from my father
gone, A mother whom I love, And have no friend, save these alone,
But thee and one above.
5. • My father bless'd me fervently,
Yet did not much complain ; But sorely will niy mother sigh
Till come back again.' “ Enough, enough, my little lad!
Such tears become thine eye; If I thy guileless bosom had,
Mine own would not be dry.
6. « Come hither, hither, my staunch yeoman,
Why dost thou look so pale ?
Or dost thou dread a French foeman
Or shiver at the gale ?"