Can I forget—canst thou forget,
When playing with thy golden hair,
Some hours of freedom may remain as yet,
For one who laughs alike at love and debt:
Then, why in haste? put off the evil day,
And snatch at youthful comforts while you may
Pause! nor so soon the various bliss forego
That single souls, and such alone, can know:
Ah! why too early careless life resign,
Your morning slumber, and your evening wine;
Your loved companion, and his easy talk;
Your Muse, invoked in every peaceful walk?
What! can no more your scenes paternal please,
Scenes sacred long to wise, unmated ease?
The prospect lengthen'd o'er the distant down,
Lakes, meadows, rising woods, and all your own?
What! shall your Newstead, shall your cloister'd bowers,
The high o'erhanging arch and trembling towers!
Shall these, profaned with folly or with strife,
An ever fond, or ever angry wife!
Shall these no more confess a manly sway,
But changeful woman's changing whims obey?
Who may, perhaps, as varying humour calls,
Contract your cloisters and o'erthrow your walls;
Let Repton loose o'er all the ancient ground,
Change round to square, and square convert to round;
Root up the elms' and yews' too solemn gloom,
And fill with shrubberies gay and green their room;
Roll down the terrace to a gay parterre,
Where gravel'd walks and flowers alternate glare;
And quite transform, in every point complete,
Your Gothic abbey to a country seat.
Forget the fair one, and your fate delay;
If not avert, at least defer the day,
When you beneath the female yoke shall bend,
And lose your wit, your temper, and your friend.*
Trin. Coll. Camb., 1808.]
*[In his mother's copy of Hobhouse's volume, Byron has written with a pencil, "I have lost them all, and shall wed accordingly. 1811. B."]