Lord George Gordon Byron

Here you will find the Long Poem Lara of poet Lord George Gordon Byron


LARA. [1] 



The Serfs are glad through Lara's wide domain, [2] 
And slavery half forgets her feudal chain; 
He, their unhoped, but unforgotten lord ? 
The long self-exiled chieftain is restored: 
There be bright faces in the busy hall, 
Bowls on the board, and banners on the wall; 
Far chequering o'er the pictured window, plays 
The unwonted fagots' hospitable blaze; 
And gay retainers gather round the hearth, 
With tongues all loudness, and with eyes all mirth. 


The chief of Lara is return'd again: 
And why had Lara cross'd the bounding main? 
Left by his sire, too young such loss to know, 
Lord of himself; ? that heritage of woe, 
That fearful empire which the human breast 
But holds to rob the heart within of rest! ? 
With none to check, and few to point in time 
The thousand paths that slope the way to crime; 
Then, when he most required commandment, then 
Had Lara's daring boyhood govern'd men. 
It skills not, boots not, step by step to trace 
His youth through all the mazes of its race; 
Short was the course his restlessness had run, 
But long enough to leave him half undone. 


And Lara left in youth his fatherland; 
But from the hour he waved his parting hand 
Each trace wax'd fainter of his course, till all 
Had nearly ceased his memory to recall. 
His sire was dust, his vassals could declare, 
'Twas all they knew, that Lara was not there; 
Nor sent, nor came he, till conjecture grew 
Cold in the many, anxious in the few. 
His hall scarce echoes with his wonted name, 
His portrait darkens in its fading frame, 
Another chief consoled his destined bride, 
The young forgot him, and the old had died; 
"Yet doth he live!" exclaims the impatient heir, 
And sighs for sables which he must not wear. 
A hundred scutcheons deck with gloomy grace 
The Laras' last and longest dwelling-place; 
But one is absent from the mouldering file, 
That now were welcome to that Gothic pile. 


He comes at last in sudden loneliness, 
And whence they know not, why they need not guess; 
They more might marvel, when the greeting's o'er, 
Not that he came, but came not long before: 
No train is his beyond a single page, 
Of foreign aspect, and of tender age. 
Years had roll'd on, and fast they speed away 
To those that wander as to those that stay; 
But lack of tidings from another clime 
Had lent a flagging wing to weary Time. 
They see, they recognise, yet almost deem 
The present dubious, or the past a dream. 

He lives, nor yet is past his manhood's prime, 
Though sear'd by toil, and something touch'd by time; 
His faults, whate'er they were, if scarce forgot, 
Might be untaught him by his varied lot; 
Nor good nor ill of late were known, his name 
Might yet uphold his patrimonial fame. 
His soul in youth was haughty, but his sins 
No more than pleasure from the stripling wins; 
And such, if not yet harden'd in their course, 
Might be redeem'd, nor ask a long remorse. 


And they indeed were changed ? 'tis quickly seen, 
Whate'er he be, 'twas not what he had been: 
That brow in furrow'd lines had fix'd at last, 
And spake of passions, but of passion past; 
The pride, but not the fire, of early days, 
Coldness of mien, and carelessness of praise; 
A high demeanour, and a glance that took 
Their thoughts from others by a single look; 
And that sarcastic levity of tongue, 
The stinging of a heart the world hath stung, 
That darts in seeming playfulness around, 
And makes those feel that will not own the wound: 
All these seem'd his, and something more beneath 
Than glance could well reveal, or accent breathe. 
Ambition, glory, love, the common aim 
That some can conquer, and that all would claim, 
Within his breast appear'd no more to strive, 
Yet seem'd as lately they had been alive; 
And some deep feeling it were vain to trace 
At moments lighten'd o'er his livid face. 


Not much he loved long question of the past, 
Nor told of wondrous wilds, and deserts vast, 
In those far lands where he had wander'd lone, 
And ? as himself would have it seem ? unknown: 
Yet these in vain his eye could scarcely scan, 
Nor glean experience from his fellow-man; 
But what he had beheld he shunn'd to show, 
As hardly worth a stranger's care to know; 
If still more prying such inquiry grew, 
His brow fell darker, and his words more few. 


Not unrejoiced to see him once again, 
Warm was his welcome to the haunts of men; 
Born of high lineage, link'd in high command, 
He mingled with the magnates of his land; 
Join'd the carousals of the great and gay, 
And saw them smile or sigh their hours away; 
But still he