Lord George Gordon Byron

Here you will find the Long Poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Canto the Third of poet Lord George Gordon Byron

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: Canto the Third

 Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child! 
 Ada! sole daughter of my house and heart?
 When last I saw thy young blue eyes they smil'd,
 And then we parted--not as now we part,
 But with a hope.--
 Awaking with a start,
 The waters heave around me; and on high
 The winds lift up their voices: I depart,
 Whither I know not; but the hour's gone by,
 When Albion's lessening shores could grieve or glad mine eye.


 Once more upon the waters! yet once more!
 And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
 That knows his rider. Welcome to their roar!
 Swift be their guidance, wheresoe'er it lead!
 Though the strain'd mast should quiver as a reed,
 And the rent canvas fluttering strew the gale,
 Still must I on; for I am as a weed,
 Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam to sail
 Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail.


 In my youth's summer I did sing of One,
 The wandering outlaw of his own dark mind;
 Again I seize the theme, then but begun,
 And bear it with me, as the rushing wind
 Bears the cloud onwards: in that Tale I find
 The furrows of long thought, and dried-up tears,
 Which, ebbing, leave a sterile track behind,
 O'er which all heavily the journeying years
 Plod the last sands of life--where not a flower appears.


 Since my young days of passion--joy, or pain--
 Perchance my heart and harp have lost a string,
 And both may jar: it may be, that in vain
 I would essay as I have sung to sing.
 Yet, though a dreary strain, to this I cling;
 So that it wean me from the weary dream
 Of selfish grief or gladness--so it fling
 Forgetfulness around me--it shall seem
 To me, though to none else, a not ungrateful theme.


 He, who grown aged in this world of woe,
 In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life,
 So that no wonder waits him; nor below
 Can love or sorrow, fame, ambition, strife,
 Cut to his heart again with the keen knife
 Of silent, sharp endurance: he can tell
 Why thought seeks refuge in lone caves, yet rife
 With airy images, and shapes which dwell
 Still unimpair'd, though old, in the soul's haunted cell.


 'Tis to create, and in creating live
 A being more intense, that we endow
 With form our fancy, gaining as we give
 The life we image, even as I do now.
 What am I? Nothing: but not so art thou,
 Soul of my thought! with whom I traverse earth,
 Invisible but gazing, as I glow
 Mix'd with thy spirit, blended with thy birth,
 And feeling still with thee in my crush'd feelings' dearth.


 Yet must I think less wildly: I have thought
 Too long and darkly, till my brain became,
 In its own eddy boiling and o'er-wrought,
 A whirling gulf of fantasy and flame:
 And thus, untaught in youth my heart to tame,
 My springs of life were poison'd. 'Tis too late!
 Yet am I chang'd; though still enough the same
 In strength to bear what time cannot abate,
 And feed on bitter fruits without accusing Fate.


 Something too much of this--but now 'tis past,
 And the spell closes with its silent seal.
 Long absent HAROLD re-appears at last;
 He of the breast which fain no more would feel,
 Wrung with the wounds which kill not, but ne'er heal,
 Yet Time, who changes all, had alter'd him
 In soul and aspect as in age: years steal
 Fire from the mind as vigour from the limb;
 And life's enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.


 His had been quaff'd too quickly, and he found
 The dregs were wormwood; but he fill'd again,
 And from a purer fount, on holier ground,
 And deem'd its spring perpetual; but in vain!
 Still round him clung invisibly a chain
 Which gall'd for ever, fettering though unseen,
 And heavy though it clank'd not; worn with pain,
 Which pin'd although it spoke not, and grew keen,
 Entering with every step he took through many a scene.


 Secure in guarded coldness, he had mix'd
 Again in fancied safety with his kind,
 And deem'd his spirit now so firmly fix'd
 And sheath'd with an invulnerable mind,
 That, if no joy, no sorrow lurk'd behind;
 And he, as one, might 'midst the many stand
 Unheeded, searching through the crowd to find
 Fit speculation; such as in strange land
 He found in wonder-works of God and Nature's hand.


 But who can view the ripen'd rose, nor seek
 To wear it? who can curiously behold
 The smoothness and the sheen of beauty's cheek,
 Nor feel the heart can never all grow old?
 Who can contemplate Fame through clouds unfold
 The star which rises o'er her steep, nor climb?
 Harold, once more within the vortex, roll'd
 On with the giddy circle, chasing Time,
 Yet with a nobler aim than in his youth's fond prime.