Epistle to Augusta
Byron, Works, 17 vols. (London: John Murray, 1832-33). PR 4351 M6 1832 ROBA. George Gordon, lord Byron, Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, ed. Thomas Moore (London: J. Murray, 1830). E-10 2736 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2 Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.
3 Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
4 No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
5 Go where I will, to me thou art the same
6 A lov'd regret which I would not resign.
7 There yet are two things in my destiny--
8A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
9 The first were nothing--had I still the last,
10 It were the haven of my happiness;
11 But other claims and other ties thou hast,
12 And mine is not the wish to make them less.
13 A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past
14 Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
16He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.
17 If my inheritance of storms hath been
18 In other elements, and on the rocks
19 Of perils, overlook'd or unforeseen,
20 I have sustain'd my share of worldly shocks,
21 The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen
22 My errors with defensive paradox;
23 I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
24The careful pilot of my proper woe.
25 Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward.
26 My whole life was a contest, since the day
27 That gave me being, gave me that which marr'd
28 The gift--a fate, or will, that walk'd astray;
29 And I at times have found the struggle hard,
30 And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
31 But now I fain would for a time survive,
32If but to see what next can well arrive.
33 Kingdoms and empires in my little day
34 I have outliv'd, and yet I am not old;
35 And when I look on this, the petty spray
36 Of my own years of trouble, which have roll'd
37 Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
38 Something--I know not what--does still uphold
39 A spirit of slight patience; not in vain,
40Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.
41 Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
42 Within me--or perhaps a cold despair,
43 Brought on when ills habitually recur,
44 Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air
45 (For even to this may change of soul refer,
46 And with light armour we may learn to bear),
47 Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
48The chief companion of a calmer lot.
49 I feel almost at times as I have felt
50 In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
51 Which do remember me of where I dwelt
52 Ere my young mind was sacrific'd to books,
53 Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
54 My heart with recognition of their looks;
55 And even at moments I could think I see
56Some living thing to love--but none like thee.
57 Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
58 A fund for contemplation; to admire
59 Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
60 But something worthier do such scenes inspire:
61 Here to be lonely is not desolate,
62 For much I view which I could most desire,
64Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
65 Oh that thou wert but with me!--but I grow
66 The fool of my own wishes, and forget
67 The solitude which I have vaunted so
68 Has lost its praise in this but one regret;
69 There may be others which I less may show;
70 I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
71 I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
72And the tide rising in my alter'd eye.
73 I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,
74 By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
75 Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake
76 The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:
77 Sad havoc Time must with my memory make
78 Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;
79 Though, like all things which I have lov'd, they are
80Resign'd for ever, or divided far.
82 Of Nature that with which she will comply--
83 It is but in her summer's sun to bask,
84 To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
85 To see her gentle face without a mask,
86 And never gaze on it with apathy.
87 She was my early friend, and now shall be
88My sister--till I look again on thee.
89 I can reduce all feelings but this one;
90 And that I would not; for at length I see
91 Such scenes as those wherein my life begun,
92 The earliest--even the only paths for me--
93 Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
94 I had been better than I now can be;
95 The passions which have torn me would have slept;
96I had not suffer'd, and thou hadst not wept.
97 With false Ambition what had I to do?
98 Little with Love, and least of all with Fame;
99 And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
100 And made me all which they can make--a name,
101 Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
102 Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
103 But all is over--I am one the more
104To baffled millions which have gone before.
105 And for the future, this world's future may
106 From me demand but little of my care;
107 I have outliv'd myself by many a day,
108 Having surviv'd so many things that were;
109 My years have been no slumber, but the prey
110 Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share
111 Of life which might have fill'd a century,
112 Before its fourth in time had pass'd me by.
113 And for the remnant which may be to come
114 I am content; and for the past I feel
115 Not thankless, for within the crowded sum
116 Of struggles, happiness at times would steal,
117 And for the present, I would not benumb
118 My feelings further. Nor shall I conceal
119 That with all this I still can look around,
120And worship Nature with a thought profound.
121 For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
122 I know myself secure, as thou in mine;
123 We were and are--I am, even as thou art--
124 Beings who ne'er each other can resign;
125 It is the same, together or apart,
126 From life's commencement to its slow decline
127 We are entwin'd--let death come slow or fast,
1] Written at Diodati, near Geneva, July 1816, but not published until 1830 in Thomas Moore's Letters and Journals of Lord Byron. Addressed to Augusta Leigh, Byron's half-sister, whose relations with Byron have been a matter of scandal and surmise from his own time to the present. Back to Line
15] Our grandsire's fate. Admiral John Byron was nicknamed "Foul-weather Jack" for his many encounters with storms. Back to Line
63] Our own dear lake: the lake at Newstead Abbey, Byron's ancestral home. Back to Line
81] The world is all before me. See Paradise Lost, XII, 646. Back to Line
128] Influenced by Byron's wife, Mrs. Leigh drew away from Byron in the years that followed. They never met again. Back to Line
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