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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/75

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CHURCHILL'S GRAVE.

Where had been heaped a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,60
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld[1]
Each other's aspects—saw, and shrieked, and died—
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The World was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,70
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropped
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The Moon, their mistress, had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,80
And the clouds perished; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

Diodati, July, 1816.
[First published, Prisoner cf Chillon, etc., 1816.]


CHURCHILL'S GRAVE,[2]

A FACT LITERALLY RENDERED.[3]

I stood beside the grave of him who blazed

The Comet of a season, and I saw
  1. [So, too, Vathek and Nouronihar, in the Hall of Eblis, waited "in direful suspense the moment which should render them to each other ... objects of terror."—Vathek, by W. Beckford, 1887. p. 185.]
  2. [Charles Churchill was born in February, 1731, and died at Boulogne, November 4, 1764. The body was brought to Dover and buried in the churchyard attached to the demolished church of St.
  3. [On the sheet containing the original draft of these lines Lord Byron has written, "The following poem (as most that I have endeavoured to write) is founded on a fact; and this detail is an attempt at a serious imitation of the style of a great poet—its beauties and its defects: I say the style; for the thoughts I claim as my own. In this, if there be anything ridiculous, let it be attributed to me, at least as much as to Mr. Wordsworth: of whom there can exist few greater admirers than myself. I have blended what I would deem to be the beauties as well as defects of his style; and it ought to be remembered, that, in such things, whether there be praise or dispraise, there is always what is called a compliment, however unintentional." There is, as Scott points out, a much closer resemblance to Southey's "English Eclogues, in which moral truths are expressed, to use the poet's own language, 'in an almost colloquial plainness of language,' and an air of quaint and original expression assumed, to render the sentiment at once impressive and picquant."]