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

I. Personal, Lyric, and Elegiac


(Childe Harold, Canto ii. Stanzas 7, 8.)

WELL didst thou speak, Athena’s wisest son!

“All that we know is, nothing can be known.”

Why should we shrink from what we cannot shun?

Each hath his pang, but feeble sufferers groan

With brain-born dreams of evil all their own.

Pursue what Chance of Fate proclaimeth best;

Peace waits us on the shores of Acheron:

There no forced banquet claims the sated guest,

But Silence spreads the couch of ever welcome rest.

Yet if, as holiest men have deem’d, there be

A land of souls beyond that sable shore,

To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee

And sophists, madly vain of dubious lore;

How sweet it were in concert to adore

With those who made our mortal labours light!

To hear each voice we fear’d to hear no more!

Behold each mighty shade reveal’d to sight,

The Bactrian, Samian sage, and all who taught the right!