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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/61

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INTRODUCTION TO THE DREAM.

The Dream, which was written at Diodati in July, 1816 (probably towards the end of the month; see letters to Murray and Rogers, dated July 22 and July 29), is a retrospect and an apology. It consists of an opening stanza, or section, on the psychology of dreams, followed by some episodes or dissolving views, which purport to be the successive stages of a dream. Stanzas ii. and iii. are descriptive of Annesley Park and Hall, and detail two incidents of Byron's boyish passion for his neighbour and distant cousin, Mary Anne Chaworth. The first scene takes place on the top of "Diadem Hill," the "cape" or rounded spur of the long ridge of Howatt Hill, which lies about half a mile to the south-east of the hall. The time is the late summer or early autumn of 1803. The "Sun of Love" has not yet declined, and the "one beloved face" is still shining on him; but he is beginning to realize that "her sighs are not for him," that she is out of his reach. The second scene, which belongs to the following year, 1804, is laid in the "antique oratory" (not, as Moore explains, another name for the hall, but "a small room built over the porch, or principal entrance of the hall, and looking into the courtyard"), and depicts the final parting. His doom has been pronounced, and his first impulse is to pen some passionate reproach, but his heart fails him at the sight of the "Lady of his Love," serene and smiling, and he bids her farewell with smiles on his lips, but grief unutterable in his heart.

Stanza iv. recalls an incident of his Eastern travels—a halt at noonday by a fountain on the route from Smyrna to Ephesus (March 14, 1810), "the heads of camels were seen peeping above the tall reeds" (see Travels in Albania, 1858, ii. 59).

The next episode (stanza v.) depicts an imaginary scene, suggested, perhaps, by some rumour or more definite assurance, and often present to his "inward eye"—the "one beloved," the mother of a happy family, but herself a forsaken and unhappy wife.

He passes on (stanza vi.) to his marriage in 1815, his bride "gentle" and "fair," but not the "one beloved"—to the wedding day, when he stood before an altar, "like one forlorn," confused by the sudden vision of the past fulfilled with Love the "indestructible"!