And Thou art Dead, as Young and Fair

Original Text: 
Byron, Works, 17 vols. (London: John Murray, 1832-33). PR 4351 M6 1832 ROBA.
2      As aught of mortal birth;
3And form so soft, and charms so rare,
4      Too soon return'd to Earth!
5Though Earth receiv'd them in her bed,
6And o'er the spot the crowd may tread
7      In carelessness or mirth,
8There is an eye which could not brook
9A moment on that grave to look.
10I will not ask where thou liest low,
11      Nor gaze upon the spot;
12There flowers or weeds at will may grow,
13      So I behold them not:
14It is enough for me to prove
15That what I lov'd, and long must love,
16      Like common earth can rot;
17To me there needs no stone to tell,
18'T is Nothing that I lov'd so well.
19Yet did I love thee to the last
20      As fervently as thou,
21Who didst not change through all the past,
22      And canst not alter now.
23The love where Death has set his seal,
24Nor age can chill, nor rival steal,
25      Nor falsehood disavow:
26And, what were worse, thou canst not see
27Or wrong, or change, or fault in me.
28The better days of life were ours;
29      The worst can be but mine:
30The sun that cheers, the storm that lowers,
31      Shall never more be thine.
32The silence of that dreamless sleep
33I envy now too much to weep;
34      Nor need I to repine
35That all those charms have pass'd away,
36I might have watch'd through long decay.
37The flower in ripen'd bloom unmatch'd
38      Must fall the earliest prey;
39Though by no hand untimely snatch'd,
40      The leaves must drop away:
41And yet it were a greater grief
42To watch it withering, leaf by leaf,
43      Than see it pluck'd to-day;
44Since earthly eye but ill can bear
45To trace the change to foul from fair.
46I know not if I could have borne
47      To see thy beauties fade;
48The night that follow'd such a morn
49      Had worn a deeper shade:
50Thy day without a cloud hath pass'd,
51And thou wert lovely to the last,
52      Extinguish'd, not decay'd;
53As stars that shoot along the sky
54Shine brightest as they fall from high.
55As once I wept, if I could weep,
56      My tears might well be shed,
57To think I was not near to keep
58      One vigil o'er thy bed;
59To gaze, how fondly! on thy face,
60To fold thee in a faint embrace,
61      Uphold thy drooping head;
62And show that love, however vain,
63Nor thou nor I can feel again.
64Yet how much less it were to gain,
65      Though thou hast left me free,
66The loveliest things that still remain,
67      Than thus remember thee!
68The all of thine that cannot die
69Through dark and dread Eternity
70      Returns again to me,
71And more thy buried love endears
72Than aught except its living years.

Notes

1] One of a number of elegiac poems written in 1811 and 1812, some of which are addressed directly to an unidentified "Thyrza," who may be the recently deceased John Edleston, one of Byron's young protegés. First published in the second edition (1812) of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and dated February 1812. The poem is introduced by a Latin inscription from the tomb of a relative of the eighteenth-century poet William Shenstone: "heu, quanto minus est cum reliquis versari quam tui meminisse [alas, how much less it is to mix with those who remain than to remember thee]." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1812
RPO poem Editors: 
M. T. Wilson
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.486.
Rhyme: