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

I. Personal, Lyric, and Elegiac

Nature the Consoler, II

(Childe Harold, Canto iii. Stanzas 71–75.)

IS it not better, then, to be alone,

And love Earth only for its earthly sake?

By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone,

Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake,

Which feeds it as a mother who doth make

A fair but forward infant her own care,

Kissing its cries away as these awake;—

Is it not better thus our lives to wear,

Than join the crushing crowd, doom’d to inflict or bear?

I live not in myself, but I become

Portion of that around me; and to me

High mountains are a feeling, but the hum

Of human cities torture: I can see

Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be

A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,

Class’d among creatures, when the soul can flee,

And with the sky, the peak, the heaving plain

Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.

And thus I am absorb’d, and this is life;

I look upon the peopled desert past,

As on a place of agony and strife,

Where, for some sin, to sorrow I was cast,

To act and suffer, but remount at last

With a fresh pinion; which I feel to spring,

Though young, yet waxing vigorous, as the blast

Which it would cope with, on delighted wing,

Spurning the clay-cold bonds which round our being cling.

And when, at length, the mind shall be all free

From what it hates in this degraded form,

Reft of its carnal life, save what shall be

Existent happier in the fly and worm,—

When elements to elements conform,

And dust is as it should be, shall I not

Feel all I see, less dazzling, but more warm?

The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot?

Of which, even now, I share at times the immortal lot?

Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part

Of me and of my soul, as I of them?

Is not the love of these deep in my heart

With a pure passion? should I not contemn

All objects, if compared with these? and stem

A tide of suffering, rather than forego

Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm

Of those whose eyes are only turn’d below,

Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow?