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In his Diary, Jan. 21, 1821, Lord Byron writes : “ To-morrow is my birthday—that is to say, at twelve o' the clock, midnight, i.e. in twelve minutes, I shall have completed thirty-and-three years of age!!!—and I go to my bed with a heaviness of heart at having lived so long and to so little purpose.
It is three minutes past twelve-it is the middle of the night by the castle clock, and I am now thirty-three!
“ON MY THIRTY-THIRD BIRTHDAY.
I have dragg'd to three-and-thirty :
Nothing-except thirty-three!” He had by this time bitterly experienced, like so many other reckless sons of rank and fortune, the gloomy change described so picturesquely by GrayFair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows,
While proudly riding o'er the azure realm In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes;
Youth on the prow, and pleasure at the helm: Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his evening
prey. Byron's last verses were written three months before his untimely death in Greece, on the day when he attained his thirty-sixth year. “This morning," Count Gamba relates, “Lord Byron came from his bedroom into the apartment where Colonel Stanhope and some friends were assembled, and said with a smile—You were complaining the other day that I never write any poetry now. This is my birthday, and I have just finished something, which I think is better than what I usually write.' He then produced these noble and affecting verses.”
Lord Byron's biographer, Thomas Moore, observes—“Taking into consideration everything connected with these verses—the last tender aspirations of a loving spirit which they breathe, the self-devotion to a noble cause which they so nobly express, and that consciousness of a near grave glimmering sadly through the whole—there is perhaps no production within the range of mere human composition round which the circumstances and feelings under which it was written cast so touching an interest.”
ON THIS DAY I COMPLETE MY THIRTY-SIXTH
Since others it hath ceased to move :
Still let me love.
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
Are mine alone.
Is lone as some volcanic isle;
A funeral pile.
The exalted portion of the pain
But wear the chain.
Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now,
Or binds his brow.
The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see!
Was not more free.
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom
And then strike home!
Unworthy manhood!' Unto thee
Of beauty be.
The land of honourable death
Away thy breath.
A soldier's grave, for thee the best;
And take thy rest. I know not where a more interesting birthday memorial is to be found than this:
SONNET ON HEARING A THRUSH SING IN A
MORNING WALK, JAN. 25TH, 1793, THE BIRTHDAY OF THE AUTHOR, ROBERT BURNS, AGED 34. Sing on, sweet Thrush, upon the leafless bough!
Sing on, sweet bird ! I listen to thy strain :
See-aged Winter, ʼmid his surly reign,
Sits meek Content, with light, unanxious heart,
I thank Thee, Author of this opening day!
thee I'll share.
Burns died at thirty-seven years and six months, in 1796; he was not to reach even that age of five-and-forty, which his verses describe as the boundary of middle life :
The magic wand then let us wield,
Wi' wrinkled face
Wi' creeping pace.
On the 25th of January, 1759, the rooth anniversary of the birth of Scotia's glorious peasant bard, a prize poem by Isa Craig was publicly read, from which we take a portion :We hail, this
A poet, peasant-born,
Unto his country brings
As lamps high set
Than the sphere-lights they flout-
While no star waneth yet!
So, through the past's far-reaching night
The God-made king
heart in love could hold them all), The dumb eyes meeting his by hearth and stall,
Gifted to understand!
Knew it and sought his hand; And the most timorous creature had not fled, Could she his heart have read, Which fain all feeble things had bless'd and
To Nature's feast-
For him, the poet-souled ;
For him her anthem rollid, From the storm-wind among the winter pines, Down to the slenderest note Of a love-warble from the linnet's throat.
But when begins The array for battle, and the trumpet blows, A king must leave the feast and lead the fight,
And with its mortal foes— Grim gathering hosts of sorrows and of sins
Each human soul must close.