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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/305

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CANTO III.]
267
THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

Must all the finer thoughts, the thrilling sense,
The electric blood with which their arteries run,[1]
Their body's self turned soul with the intense
Feeling of that which is, and fancy of
That which should be, to such a recompense
Conduct? shall their bright plumage on the rough
Storm be still scattered? Yes, and it must be;
For, formed of far too penetrable stuff,
These birds of Paradise[2] but long to flee
Back to their native mansion, soon they find170
Earth's mist with their pure pinions not agree,
And die or are degraded; for the mind
Succumbs to long infection, and despair,
And vulture Passions flying close behind,
Await the moment to assail and tear;[3]
And when, at length, the wingéd wanderers stoop,
Then is the Prey-birds' triumph, then they share
The spoil, o'erpowered at length by one fell swoop.
Yet some have been untouched who learned to bear,

Some whom no Power could ever force to droop,180
  1. The winged
    lightning
    blood ——.—[MS. Alternative reading.]
  2. [Compare—

    "For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise."

    Kubla Khan, lines 52, 53,
    Poetical Works of S. T. Coleridge, 1893, p. 94.]

  3. [Compare—

    "By our own spirits are we deified:
    We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
    But thereof come in the end despondency and madness."

    Resolution and Independence, vii. lines 5-7,
    Wordsworth's Poetical Works, 1889, p. 175.

    Compare, too, Moore's fine apology for Byron's failure to submit to the yoke of matrimony, "and to live happily ever afterwards"—

    "But it is the cultivation and exercise of the imaginative faculty that, more than anything, tend to wean the man of genius from actual life, and, by substituting the sensibilities of the imagination for those of the heart, to render, at last, the medium through which he feels no less unreal than that through which he thinks. Those images of ideal good and beauty that surround him in his musings soon accustom him to consider all that is beneath this high standard unworthy of his care; till, at length, the heart becoming chilled as the fancy warms, it too often happens that, in proportion as he has refined and elevated his theory of all the social affections, he has unfitted himself for the practice of them."—Life, p. 268.]