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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 3.djvu/454

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POEMS 1814-1816.

In him there still is Life, the Wave that dashed
On shore the plank to which his form was lashed,
Returned unheeding of its helpless Prey—
The lone survivor of that Yesterday—
The one of Many whom the withering Gale
Hath left unpunished to record their Tale.
But who shall hear it? on that barren Sand
None comes to stretch the hospitable hand.
That shore reveals no print of human foot,
Nor e'en the pawing of the wilder Brute;
And niggard vegetation will not smile,
All sunless on that solitary Isle.


The naked Stranger rose, and wrung his hair,
And that first moment passed in silent prayer.
Alas! the sound—he sunk into Despair—
He was on Earth—but what was Earth to him,
Houseless and homeless—bare both breast and limb?
Cut off from all but Memory he curst
His fate—his folly—but himself the worst.
What was his hope? he looked upon the Wave—
Despite—of all—it still may be his Grave!


He rose and with a feeble effort shaped
His course unto the billows—late escaped:
But weakness conquered—swam his dizzy glance,
And down to Earth he sunk in silent trance.
How long his senses bore its chilling chain,
He knew not—but, recalled to Life again,
A stranger stood beside his shivering form—
And what was he? had he too scaped the storm?