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Childe Harold was he hight :—but whence his name
And lineage long, it suits me not to say ;
Suffice it, that perchance they were of fame,
And had been glorious in another day :
But one sad losel ? soils a name for aye,
However mighty in the olden time;
Nor all that heralds rake from coffined clay,
Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme,
Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
Childe Harold basked him in the noontide sun,
Disporting there like any other fly;
Nor deemed before his little day was done
One blast might chill him into misery.
But long ere scarce a third of his passed by, 3
Worse than adversity the Childe befell;
He felt the fulness of satiety :
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,
Nor made atonement when he did amiss,
Had sighed to many though he loved but one,
And that loved 4 one, alas ! could ne'er be his.
Ah, happy she ! to 'scape from him whose kiss
Had been pollution unto aught so chaste;
Who soon had left her charms for vulgar bliss,
And iled her goodly lands to gild his waste,
Nor calm domestic peace had ever deigned to taste.
And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart,
And from his fellow bacchanals would flee;
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 Pream,'
'Tis said, at times the sullen tear would start,
But Pride congealed the drop within his ee : 1
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 :
It was a vast and venerable pile ;
So old, it seemed only not to fall,
Yet strength was pillared in each massy aisle.
Monastic dome! ? condemned to uses vile !
Where Superstition once had made her den
Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile ;
And monks might deem their time was come agen,
If ancient tales say true, nor wrong these holy men.
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 ; For his was not that open, artless soul That feels relief by bidding sorrow flow, Nor sought he friend to counsel or condole, 4 Whate'er this grief mote be, which he could not control.
And none did love him : though to hall and bower
He gathered revellers from far and near,
He knew them flatt'rers of the festal hour ;
The heartless parasites of present cheer.
| 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 lemans 1 dear-
pomp and power alone are woman's care, And where these are light Eros ? 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 4—not forgot,
Though parting from that mother he did shun;
A sister - whom he loved, but saw her not
Before his weary pilgrimage begun :
If friends he had, he bade adieu to none.
Yet deem not thence his breast a breast of steel :
Ye, who have known what 'tis to dote upon
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,
The laughing dames in whom he did delight,
Whose large blue eyes, fair locks, and snowy hands,
Might shake the saintship of an anchorite,
And long had fed his youthful appetite ;
His goblets brimmed with every costly wine,
And all that mote to luxury invite,
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,
As glad to waft him from his native home ;
And fast the white rocks faded from his view,
And soon were lost in circumambient foam :
And then, it may be, of his wish to roam
Repented he, but in his bosom slept
The silent thought, nor from his lips did come
One word of wail, whilst others sate and wept,
And to the reckless gales unmanly moaning kept.
1 Lemans.] See Glossary.
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,
And strike, albeit with untaught melody,
When deemed he no strange ear was listening :
And now his fingers o'er it he did fing,
And tuned his farewell in the dim twilight.
While flew the vessel on her snowy wing,
And fleeting shores receded from his sight,
Thus to the elements he poured his last Good Night.'
Adieu, adieu ! my native shore
Fadés o'er the waters blue ;
The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild sea-mew.
Yon sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native Land-Good Night !
A few short hours and he will rise
To give the morrow birth ;
And I shall hail the main and skies,
But not my mother earth.
Deserted is my own good hall,
Its hearth is desolate ;
Wild weeds are gathering on the wall;
My dog howls at the gate.
• Come hither, hither, my little page!
Why dost thou weep and wail ?
Or dost thou dread the billows' rage,
Or tremble at the gale ?
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 :
• Come hither, hither, my staunch yeoman,
Why dost thou look so pale ?
Or dost thou dread a French foeman ?
Or shiver at the gale ?'—
'Deem'st thou I tremble for my life?
Sir Childe, I'm not so weak;
But thinking on an absent wife
Will blanch a faithful cheek.
‘My spouse and boys dwell near thy hall,
Along the bordering lake,
And when they on their father call,
What answer shall she make ??--
Enough, enough, my yeoman good,
Thy grief let none gainsay :
But I, who am of lighter mood,
Will laugh to flee away.”
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.'