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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/81

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Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals of their fate and force;
Like thee, Man is in part divine,[1]
A troubled stream from a pure source;
And Man in portions can foresee
His own funereal destiny;50
His wretchedness, and his resistance,
And his sad unallied existence:
To which his Spirit may oppose
Itself—an equal to all woes—[2][3]
And a firm will, and a deep sense,
Which even in torture can descry
Its own concentered recompense,
Triumphant where it dares defy,
And making Death a Victory.

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


Could I remount the river of my years
To the first fountain of our smiles and tears,
I would not trace again the stream of hours

Between their outworn banks of withered flowers,
  1. [Compare—

    "But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
    Half dust, half deity."

    Manfred, act i. sc. 2, lines 39, 40, vide post, p. 95.]

  2. —— and equal to all woes.—[Editions 1832, etc.]
  3. [The edition of 1833 and subsequent issues read "and equal." It is clear that the earlier reading, "an equal," is correct. The spirit opposed by the spirit is an equal, etc. The spirit can also oppose to "its own funereal destiny" a firm will, etc.]
  4. [A Fragment, which remained unpublished till 1830, was written at the same time as Churchill's Grave (July, 1816), and is closely allied to it in purport and in sentiment. It is a questioning of Death! O Death, what is thy sting? There is an analogy between exile and death. As Churchill lay in his forgotten grave at Dover, one of "many millions decomposed to clay," so he the absent is dead to the absent, and the absent are dead to him. And what are the dead? the aggregate of nothingness? or are they a multitude of atoms having neither part nor lot one with the other? There is no solution but in the grave. Death alone can unriddle death. The poet's questioning spirit would plunge into the abyss to bring back the answer.]