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Childe Harold was he hight:1-but whence his name
Nor all that heralds rake from coffined clay,
Childe Harold basked him in the noontide sun,
Nor deemed before his little day was done
But long ere scarce a third of his passed by,3
Then loathed he in his native land to dwell,
Which seemed to him more lone than Eremite's sad cell.
For he through Sin's long labyrinth had run,
And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart,
1 Hight.] Childe,' applied by Spenser to Prince Arthur, and to a king's son, Childe Tristram, and found in the old ballad 'Childe Waters. For the word 'hight,' see Glossary.
2 Losel.] See Glossary.
5 The poet was now twenty-four years of age.
4 An allusion to his boyish love-Mary Chaworth. See Byron's Dream,'
'Tis said, at times the sullen tear would start, But Pride congealed the drop within his ee: Apart he stalked in joyless reverie,
And from his native land resolved to go,
And visit scorching climes beyond the sea:
With pleasure drugged, he almost longed for woe, And e'en for change of scene would seek the shades below.
The Childe departed from his father's hall:
So old, it seemed only not to fall,
Yet strength was pillared in each massy aisle.
Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile ;
Yet oft-times in his maddest mirthful mood
Strange pangs would flash along Childe Harold's brow, As if the memory of some deadly feud
Or disappointed passion lurked below :
But this none knew, nor haply cared to know;
That feels relief by bidding sorrow flow,
Nor sought he friend to counsel or condole,1 Whate'er this grief mote be, which he could not control.
And none did love him: though to hall and bower
He knew them flatt'rers of the festal hour;
The heartless parasites of present cheer.
1 Ee.] Glossary.
2 Newstead Abbey, which he describes again in 'Don Juan,' Canto xiii.
3 From Paphos, the scene of Aphrodite's worship. The description of his riotous living is historically untrue, and seems probably suggested by the orgies of Medmenham Abbey, of the time of Wilkes.
4 Condole.] Elliptically for condole with him.'
Yea! none did love him-not his lemans1 dear-
And where these are light Eros 2 finds a feere ; 3 Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare, And Mammon wins his way where Seraphs might despair.
Childe Harold had a mother 1—not forgot,
Though parting from that mother he did shun;
A sister 5 whom he loved, but saw her not
If friends he had, he bade adieu to none.
Yet deem not thence his breast a breast of steel:
A few dear objects, will in sadness feel
Such partings break the heart they fondly hope to heal.
His house, his home, his heritage, his lands,
And long had fed his youthful appetite;
Without a sigh he left, to cross the brine,
And traverse Paynim shores, and pass Earth's central line.
The sails were filled, and fair the light winds blew,
The silent thought, nor from his lips did come
2 Eros.] Greek name for Cupid, Love.
3 Feere.] Glossary.
4 Mrs. Byron, to whose death reference is made in Canto iii. 5 A sister.] The Honourable Augusta Leigh.
6 Paynim.] Correlative to Giaour, applied by Christians to Musalmans-Pagani.
But when the sun was sinking in the sea
He seized his harp, which he at times could string,
Thus to the elements he poured his last Good Night.'
ADIEU, adieu! my native shore
The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
Yon sun that sets upon the sea
A few short hours and he will rise
Its hearth is desolate ;
Wild weeds are gathering on the wall;
'Come hither, hither, my little page!
But dash the tear-drop from thine eye;
Our ship is swift and strong :
Our fleetest falcon scarce can fly
More merrily along.'
'Let winds be shrill, let waves roll high,
I fear not wave nor wind:
Yet marvel not, Sir Childe, that I
For I have from my father gone,
And have no friend, save these alone,
'My father blessed me fervently,
'Come hither, hither, my staunch yeoman,
'My spouse and boys dwell near thy hall,
And when they on their father call,
For who would trust the seeming sighs
Of wife or paramour ? 1
Paramour.] Mistress, from Norman 'paraimer,' to love, equal to the A.-S. 'leman.'