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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/144

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104
HOURS OF IDLENESS.

For all my humble fame, to him alone,
The praise is due, who made that fame my own.
Oh! could I soar above these feeble lays,
These young effusions of my early days,
To him my Muse her noblest strain would give,
The song might perish, but the theme might live.[1]360
Yet, why for him the needless verse essay?

His honour'd name requires no vain display:

    Where all are hastening to the dread abode,
    To meet the judgment of a righteous God;
    Mix'd in the concourse of a thoughtless throng,
    A mourner, midst of mirth, I glide along;
    A wretched, isolated, gloomy thing,
    Curst by reflection's deep corroding sting;
    But not that mental sting, which stabs within,
    The dark avenger of unpunished sin;
    The silent shaft, which goads the guilty wretch
    Extended on a rack's untiring stretch:
    Conscience that sting, that shaft to him supplies
    His mind the rack, from which he ne'er can rise.
    For me, whate'er my folly, or my fear,
    One cheerful comfort still is cherish'd here.
    No dread internal, haunts my hours of rest,
    No dreams of injured innocence infest;
    Of hope, of peace, of almost all bereft,
    Conscience, my last but welcome guest, is left.
    Slander's empoison'd breath, may blast my name,
    Envy delights to blight the buds of fame:
    Deceit may chill the current of my blood,
    And freeze affection's warm impassion'd flood;
    Presaging horror, darken every sense,
    Even here will conscience be my best defence;
    My bosom feeds no "worm which ne'er can die:"
    Not crimes I mourn, but happiness gone by.
    Thus crawling on with many a reptile vile,
    My heart is bitter, though my cheek may smile;
    No more with former bliss, my heart is glad;
    Hope yields to anguish and my soul is sad;
    From fond regret, no future joy can save;
    Remembrance slumbers only in the grave.

    [P. on V. Occasions.]

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  1. The song might perish, but the theme must live.—[Hours of Idleness.]