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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Could Love For Ever

Lord Byron (1788–1824)

COULD Love for ever

Run like a river,

And Time’s endeavour

Be tried in vain—

No other pleasure

With this could measure:

And like a treasure

We’d hug the chain.

But since our sighing

Ends not in dying,

And, form’d for flying,

Love plumes his wing;

Then for this reason

Let’s love a season;

But let that season be only Spring.

When lovers parted

Feel broken-hearted,

And, all hopes thwarted,

Expect to die;

A few years older,

Ah! how much colder

They might behold her

For whom they sigh!

When link’d together,

In every weather,

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

Such territory

Quits with disdain.

Still, still advancing,

With banners glancing,

His power enhancing,

He must move on—

Repose but cloys him,

Retreat destroys him,

Love brooks not a degraded throne.

Wait not, fond lover!

Till years are over,

And then recover,

As from a dream.

While each bewailing

The other’s failing,

With wrath and railing,

All hideous seem—

While first decreasing,

Yet not quite ceasing,

Wait not till teasing

All passion blight:

If once diminish’d

Love reign is finish’d—

Then part in friendship,—and bid good-night.

So shall Affection

To recollection

The dear connection

Bring back with joy:

You had not waited

Till, tired or hated,

Your passions sated

Began to coy.

Your last embraces

Leave no cold traces—

The same fond faces—

As through the past;

And eyes, the mirrors

Of your sweet errors,

Reflect but rapture—not least though last.

True, separations

Ask more than patience;

What desperations

From such have risen!

But yet remaining,

What is’t but chaining

Hearts which, once waning,

Beat ’gainst their prison?

Time can but cloy love,

And use destroy love:

The wingèd boy, Love,

Is but for boys—

You’ll find it torture

Though sharper, shorter,

To wean, and not wear out your joys.