If my Soul was not fitted to prize it,
'Twas folly not sooner to shun:
And if dearly that error hath cost me,
And more than I once could foresee,
I have found that, whatever it lost me,
It could not deprive me of Thee.
From the wreck of the past, which hath perished,
Thus much I at least may recall,
It hath taught me that what I most cherished
Deserved to be dearest of all:
In the Desert a fountain is springing,
In the wide waste there still is a tree,
And a bird in the solitude singing,
Which speaks to my spirit of Thee.
July 24, 1816.
[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]
"Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be."
Epistle to Augusta, stanxa xii. lines 5, 6, vide post, p. 61.
"But soon he knew himself the most unfit
Of men to herd with Man."
Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza xii. lines 1, 2,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 223.]
And more than I then could foresee.
I have met but the fate that hath crost me.—[MS.]
- In the wreck of the past ——.—[MS.]
In the Desert there still are sweet waters,
In the wild waste a sheltering tree.—[MS.]
- [Byron often made use of this illustration. Compare—
"My Peri! ever welcome here!
Sweet, as the desert fountain's wave."
The Bride of Abydos, Canto I. lines 151, 152,
Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 163.]
- [For Hobhouse's parody of these stanzas, see Letters, 1900, iv. 73, 74.]