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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/70

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40
POEMS OF JULY—SEPTEMBER, 1816.

And forms, impalpable and unperceived
Of others' sight, familiar were to hers.
And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise
Have a far deeper madness—and the glance
Of melancholy is a fearful gift;
What is it but the telescope of truth?180
Which strips the distance of its fantasies,
And brings life near in utter nakedness,
Making the cold reality too real![1][2]


VIII.

A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was alone as heretofore,
The beings which surrounded him were gone,
Or were at war with him; he was a mark
For blight and desolation, compassed round
With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed
In all which was served up to him, until,190
Like to the Pontic monarch of old days,[3]

He fed on poisons, and they had no power,
  1. —— the glance
    Of melancholy is a fearful gift;
    For it becomes the telescope of truth,
    And shows us all things naked as they are.—[MS.]

  2. [Compare—

    "Who loves, raves—'tis youth's frenzy—but the cure
    Is bitterer still, as charm by charm unwinds
    Which robed our idols, and we see too sure
    Nor Worth nor Beauty dwells from out the mind's
    Ideal shape of such."

    Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza cxxiii. lines 1-5, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 420]

  3. Mithridates of Pontus. [Mithridates, King of Pontus (B.C. 120-63), surnamed Eupator, succeeded to the throne when he was only eleven years of age. He is said to have safeguarded himself against the designs of his enemies by drugging himself with antidotes against poison, and so effectively that, when he was an old man, he could not poison himself, even when he was minded to do so—"ut ne volens quidem senex veneno mori potuerit."—Justinus, Hist., lib. xxxvii. cap. ii. According to Medwin (Conversations, p. 148), Byron made use of the same illustration in speaking of Polidori's death (April, 1821), which was probably occasioned by "poison administered to himself" (see Letters, 1899, iii. 285).]