George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

   Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

   For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

   And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

   And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

   And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Stanzas for Music

There be none of Beauty’s daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean’s pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull’d winds seem dreaming:

And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o’er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving,
As an infant’s asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer’s ocean.

January 22nd, Missolonghi

On this Day I Complete my Thirty-Sixth Year

‘Tis time this heart should be unmoved,
       Since others it hath ceased to move:
Yet though I cannot be beloved,
                                    Still let me love!

   My days are in the yellow leaf;
       The flowers and fruits of Love are gone;
The worm—the canker, and the grief
                                    Are mine alone!

   The fire that on my bosom preys
       Is lone as some Volcanic Isle;
No torch is kindled at its blaze
                                    A funeral pile.

   The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
       The exalted portion of the pain
And power of Love I cannot share,
                                    But wear the chain.

   But ’tis not thus—and ’tis not here
       Such thoughts should shake my Soul, nor now,
Where Glory decks the hero’s bier,
                                    Or binds his brow.

   The Sword, the Banner, and the Field,
       Glory and Greece around us see!
The Spartan borne upon his shield
                                    Was not more free.

   Awake (not Greece—she is awake!)
       Awake, my Spirit! Think through whom
Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake
                                    And then strike home!

   Tread those reviving passions down
       Unworthy Manhood—unto thee
Indifferent should the smile or frown
                                    Of beauty be.

   If thou regret’st thy Youth, why live?
       The land of honourable Death
Is here:—up to the Field, and give
                                    Away thy breath!

   Seek out—less often sought than found—
       A Soldier’s Grave, for thee the best;
Then look around, and choose thy Ground,
                                    And take thy rest.