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CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
CANTO THE FIRST.
Oн, thou! in Hellas deem'd of heavenly birth, Muse! form'd or fabled at the minstrel's will! Since shamed full oft by later lyres on earth, Mine dares not call thee from thy sacred hill: Yet there I've wander'd by thy vaunted rill; Yes! sigh'd o'er Delphi's long deserted shrine,1 Where, save that feeble fountain, all is still; Nor mote my shell awake the weary Nine To grace so plain a tale this lowly lay of mine. 2
1 The little village of Castri stands partly on the site of Delphi. Along the path of the mountain, from Chrysso, are the remains of sepulchres hewn in and from the rock. "One," said the guide, "of a king who broke his neck hunting." His majesty had certainly chosen the fittest spot for such an achievement. A little above Castri is a cave, supposed the Pythian, of immense depth; the upper part of it is paved, and now a cowhouse. On the other side of Castri stands a Greek monastery; some way above which is the cleft in the rock, with a range of caverns difficult of ascent, and apparently leading to the interior of the mountain; probably to the Corycian Cavern mentioned by Pausanias. From this part descend the fountain and the "Dews of Castalie."-["We were sprinkled," says Mr. Hobhouse," with the spray of the immortal rill, and here, if any where, should have felt the poetic inspiration: we drank deep, too, of the spring; but― (I can answer for myself) -without feeling sensible of any extraordinary effect." - E.]
[This stanza is not in the original MS.]
Whilome in Albion's isle there dwelt a youth,
Childe Harold 2 was he hight: - but whence his
And lineage long, it suits me not to say;
Childe Harold bask'd him in the noontide sun,
Then loathed he in his native land to dwell,
Which seem'd to him more lone than Eremite's sad cell.
1["He cheer'd the bad and did the good affright; With concubines," &c. - MS.]
For he through Sin's long labyrinth had run,
And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart,
And from his native land resolved to go,
And e'en for change of scene would seek the shades
[See Stanzas written to a Lady, on leaving England : Works, vol. vii. p. 302.;
"And I must from this land be gone,
2 [" And straight he fell into a reverie."- MS.]
3 [In these stanzas, and indeed throughout his works, we must not accept too literally Lord Byron's testimony against him. self-he took a morbid pleasure in darkening every shadow of his self-portraiture. His interior at Newstead had, no doubt, been, in some points, loose and irregular enough; but it certainly never exhibited any thing of the profuse and Satanic luxury which the language in the text might seem to indicate. In fact, the narrowness of his means at the time the verses refer to would alone have precluded this. His household economy, while he remained at the Abbey, is known to have been conducted on a very moderate scale; and, besides, his usual companions, though far from being averse to convivial indulgences, were not only, as Mr. Moore says,