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RIVER, that rollest by the ancient walls,"
6 [These lines, which were written by Lord Byron on the birth of the son of the British vice-consul at Venice, are no otherwise remarkable, than that they were thought worthy of being metrically translated into ten languages: namely, Greek, Latin, Italian (also in the Venetian dialect), German, French, Spanish, Illyrian, Hebrew, Armenian, and Samaritan. The original lines, with the different versions, were printed, in a small neat volume, in the seminary of Padua.]
7 [About the middle of April, 1819, Lord Byron travelled from Venice to Ravenna, at which last city he expected to find the Countess Guiccioli. The above stanzas, which have been as much admired as anything of the kind he ever wrote, were composed during the journey, while he was sailing on the Po. In transmitting them to England, in May, 1820, he says, "They must not be published: pray recollect this, as they are mere verses of society, and written upon private feelings and passions." They were first printed in 1824.]
8 [Ravenna-a city to which Lord Byron afterwards declared himself more attached than to any other place, except Greece.]
What if thy deep and ample stream should be
What do I say a mirror of my heart?
Are not thy waters sweeping, dark, and strong? Such as my feelings were and are, thou art;
And such as thou art were my passions long."
Time may have somewhat tamed them,-not for ever; Thou overflow'st thy banks, and not for aye
Thy bosom overboils, congenial river!
Thy floods subside, and mine have sunk away:
But left long wrecks behind, and now again,
The current I behold will sweep beneath
She will look on thee,-I have look'd on thee,
Full of that thought: and, from that moment, ne'er Thy waters could I dream of, name, or see,
Without the inseparable sigh for her!
Her bright eyes will be imaged in thy stream,-
Mine cannot witness, even in a dream,
That happy wave repass me in its flow!
The wave that bears my tears returns no more:
But that which keepeth us apart is not
Distance, nor depth of wave, nor space of earth,
As various as the climates of our birth.
A stranger loves the lady of the land,
Born far beyond the mountains, but his blood
By the black wind that chills the polar flood.
My blood is all meridian; were it not,
I had not left my clime, nor should I be,
A slave again of love,—at least of thee.
"Tis vain to struggle-let me perish young-
To dust if I return, from dust I sprung,
And then, at least, my heart can ne'er be moved.
FROM THE FRENCH OF RULHIÈRES.9
Ir, for silver or for gold,
You could melt ten thousand pimples
Then your face we might behold,
Looking, doubtless, much more snugly;
August 12, 1819.
9 ["Would you like an epigram-a translation? It was written on some Frenchwoman, by Rulhières, I believe."-Lord B. to Mr. Murray, Aug. 12, 1819.]
SONNET TO GEORGE THE FOURTH,
ON THE REPEAL OF LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD'S FORFEITURE.
To be the father of the fatherless,
To stretch the hand from the throne's height, and raise
To make thy sire's sway by a kingdom less,
This is to be a monarch, and repress
Envy into unutterable praise.
Dismiss thy guard, and trust thee to such traits,
Thy sovereignty would grow but more complete:
And by the heart, not hand, enslaving us.
Bologna, August 12, 1819.1
COULD Love for ever
Run like a river,
And Time's endeavour
Be tried in vain
No other pleasure
1 ["So the prince has been repealing Lord Fitzgerald's forfeiture? Ecco un' sonetto! There, you dogs! there's a sonnet for you: you won't have such as that in a hurry from Fitzgerald. You may publish it with my name, an' ye wool. He deserves all praise, bad and good; it was a very noble piece of principality."-Lord B. to Mr. Murray.]
2 [A friend of Lord Byron's, who was with him at Ravenna when he wrote these stanzas, says,- "They were composed like many others, with no view of publication, but merely to relieve himself in a moment of suffering. He had been painfully excited by some circumstances which appeared to make it necessary that he should immediately quit Italy; and in the day and the hour that he wrote the song was labouring under an access of fever."]
With this could measure;
We'd hug the chain.
Love plumes his wing;
Let's love a season;
But let that season be only Spring.
When lovers parted
For whom they sigh!
They pluck Love's feather
From out his wing
He'll stay for ever,
But sadly shiver
Without his plumage, when past the Spring.
Like chiefs of Faction,
His life is action
A formal paction
That curbs his reign,
Obscures his glory,
Despot no more, he
Quits with disdain.
His power enhancing,
3 [V. L.-"That sped his Spring."]