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Lord Byron (1788–1824). Poetry of Byron. 1881.

II. Descriptive and Narrative


(Childe Harold, Canto iii. Stanzas 99–104.)

CLARENS! sweet Clarens, birthplace of deep Love!

Thine air is the young breath of passionate thought;

Thy trees take root in Love; the snows above

The very Glaciers have his colours caught,

And sunset into rose-hues sees them wrought

By rays which sleep there lovingly: the rocks,

The permanent crags, tell here of Love, who sought

In them a refuge from the worldly shocks,

Which stir and sting the soul with hope that woos, then mocks.

Clarens! by heavenly feet thy paths are trod,—

Undying Love’s, who here ascends a throne

To which the steps are mountains; where the god

Is a pervading life and light,—so shown

Not on those summits solely, nor alone

In the still cave and forest; o’er the flower

His eye is sparkling, and his breath hath blown,

His soft and summer breath, whose tender power

Passes the strength of storms in their most desolate hour.

All things are here of him; from the black pines,

Which are his shade on high, and the loud roar

Of torrents, where he listeneth, to the vines

Which slope his green path downward to the shore,

Where the bow’d waters meet him, and adore,

Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the wood,

The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar,

But light leaves, young as joy, stands where it stood,

Offering to him, and his, a populous solitude.

A populous solitude of bees and birds,

And fairy-form’d and many-colour’d things,

Who worship him with notes more sweet than words,

And innocently open their glad wings,

Fearless and full of life: the gush of springs,

And fall of lofty fountains, and the bend

Of stirring branches, and the bud which brings

The swiftest thought of beauty, here extend,

Mingling, and made by Love, unto one mighty end.

He who hath loved not, here would learn that lore,

And make his heart a spirit; he who knows

That tender mystery, will love the more,

For this is Love’s recess, where vain men’s woes,

And the world’s waste, have driven him far from those,

For ’tis his nature to advance or die;

He stands not still, but or decays, or grows

Into a boundless blessing, which may vie

With the immortal lights, in its eternity.

’Twas not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot,

Peopling it with affections; but he found

It was the scene which passion must allot

To the mind’s purified beings; ’twas the ground

Where early Love his Psyche’s zone unbound,

And hallow’d it with loveliness: ’tis lone,

And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound,

And sense, and sight of sweetness; here the Rhone

Hath spread himself a couch, the Alps have rear’d a throne.