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

I. Personal, Lyric, and Elegiac

Lament of Tasso

LONG years!—It tries the thrilling frame to bear

And eagle-spirit of a Child of Song—

Long years of outrage, calumny, and wrong;

Imputed madness, prison’d solitude,

And the mind’s canker in its savage mood,

When the impatient thirst of light and air

Parches the heart; and the abhorred grate,

Marring the sunbeams with its hideous shade,

Works through the throbbing eyeball to the brain

With a hot sense of heaviness and pain;

And bare, at once, Captivity display’d

Stands scoffing through the never-open’d gate,

Which nothing through its bars admits, save day,

And tasteless food, which I have eat alone

Till its unsocial bitterness is gone;

And I can banquet like a beast of prey,

Sullen and lonely, couching in the cave

Which is my lair, and—it may be—my grave.

All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear,

But must be borne. I stoop not to despair;

For I have battled with mine agony,

And made me wings wherewith to overfly

The narrow circus of my dungeon wall,

And freed the Holy Sepulchre from thrall;

And revell’d among men and things divine,

And pour’d my spirit over Palestine,

In honour of the sacred war for Him,

The God who was on earth and is in heaven,

For he hath strengthen’d me in heart and limb.

That through this sufferance I might be forgiven,

I have employ’d my penance to record

How Salem’s shrine was won, and how adored.

But this is o’er—my pleasant task is done:—

My long-sustaining friend of many years!

If I do blot thy final page with tears,

Know, that my sorrows have wrung from me none.

But thou, my young creation! my soul’s child!

Which ever playing round me came and smiled

And woo’d me from myself with that sweet sight,

Thou too art gone—and so is my delight:

And therefore do I weep and inly bleed

With this last bruise upon a broken reed.