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MAID OF ATHENS, ERE WE PART

3

England ! thy beauties are tame and domestic,

To one who has roy'd on the mountains afar:
Oh! for the crags that are wild and majestic,

The steep, frowning glories of dark Loch na Garr.

MAID OF ATHENS, ERE WE PART

Ζωή μου, σας αγαπώ

This, perhaps the most popular of Byron's lyrics, was written at Athens in 1810, and addressed to a young girl, Theresa Macri, daughter of Byron's landlady, the widow of a former English vice consul. The Greek refrain means My life, I love you."

I

MAGON

AID of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh give me back

my

heart !
Or, since that has left my breast,
Keep it now, and take the rest !
Hear my vow before I go,
Ζωή μου, σας αγαπώ.

II

By those tresses unconfined,
Wooed by each Ægean wind;
By those lids whose jetty fringe
Kiss thy soft cheeks' blooming tinge;
By those wild eyes like the roe,
Ζωή μου, σας αγαπώ.

III

By that lip long to taste;
By that zone-encircled waist;

By all the token-flowers that tell
What words can never speak so well ;
By Love's alternate joy and woe,
Ζωή μου, σας αγαπώ.

IV
Maid of Athens ! I am gone :
Think of me, sweet! when alone.
Though I fly to Istambol,
Athens holds my heart and soul :
Can I cease to love thee? No!
Ζωή μου, σας αγαπώ.

MODERN GREECE

H

,

(From The Giaour)
E who hath bent him o'er the dead

Ere the first day of Death is fled,
The first dark day of Nothingness,
The last of Danger and Distress,
(Before Decay's effacing fingers
Have swept the lines where Beauty lingers,
And marked the mild angelic air,
The rapture of Repose that's there,
The fixed yet tender traits that streak
The languor of the placid cheek,
And - but for that sad shrouded eye,

That fires not, wins not, weeps not, now,

And but for that chill, changeless brow,
Where cold Obstruction's apathy
Appals the gazing mourner's heart,
As if to him it could impart

1 Istambol : Constantinople.

IO

20

The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon ;
Yes, but for these and these alone,
Some moments, aye, one treacherous hour,
He still might doubt the Tyrant's power;
So fair, so calm, so softly sealed,
The first, last look by Death revealed !
Such is the aspect of this shore :
'T is Greece, but living Greece no more !
So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,
We start, for Soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That parts not quite with parting breath;

But beauty with that fearful bloom,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb,
Expression's last receding ray,
A gilded Halo hovering round decay,

The farewell beam of Feeling past away!
Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth,
Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished earth!

30

KNOW YE THE LAND?

This introduction to The Bride of Abydos, written in 1813, was perhaps suggested by the opening lines of Goethe's Mignon :

Kennst du das Land wo die Citronen blühn?”

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NOW

ye

the land where the cypress and myrtle Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime? Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle,

Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime?
Know ye the land of the cedar and vine,
Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine;

Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppressed with perfume,
Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gúl · in her bloom;
Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit,
And the voice of the nightingale never is mute;
Where the tints of the earth, and the hues of the sky,
In colour though varied, in beauty may vie,
And the purple of Ocean is deepest in dye;
Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine,
And all, save the spirit of man, is divine —
'Tis the clime of the East 't is the land of the Sun -
Can he smile on such deeds as his children have done?
Oh! wild as the accents of lovers' farewell
Are the hearts which they bear and the tales which they tell.

SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY

(From Hebrew Melodies)

Byron, at the request of a friend, wrote a number of lyrics to be set to music. In April, 1815, these were published, with the music, under the title of Selections of Hebrew Melodies. Though the poet was, or pretended to be, ashamed of the volume, at least five of its twentythree poems have achieved immortality. Only fifteen are on Biblical themes; and the first in order, She Walks in Beauty, has for its subject Anne Horton, who married Byron's cousin, Robert Wilmot. This is perhaps Byron's most finished lyric poem, though written long before his poetic power reached its climax.

I

She cloudless climes and starry skies ;

HE walks in Beauty, like the night

And all that 's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes :
Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

1 Gúl: the rose.

SONG OF SAUL BEFORE HIS LAST BATTLE

7

II

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

III

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent !

SONG OF SAUL BEFORE HIS LAST BATTLE

The death of Saul is related in 1 Samuel xxxi ; though Byron's Song is of course purely imaginary.

I

WABierce me in leading the host of the Lord,

ARRIORS and Chiefs ! should the shaft or the sword

Pierce me in leading the host of the Lord, Heed not the corse, though a King's, in your path : Bury your steel in the bosoms of Gath!

II

Thou who art bearing my buckler and bow,
Should the soldiers of Saul look away from the foe,
Stretch me that moment in blood at thy feet !
Mine be the doom which they dared not to meet.

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