The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/To a Lady (1)
TO A LADY.
Oh! had my Fate been join'd with thine,
As once this pledge appear'd a token,
These follies had not, then, been mine,
For, then, my peace had not been broken.
To thee, these early faults I owe,
To thee, the wise and old reproving:
They know my sins, but do not know
'Twas thine to break the bonds of loving.
For once my soul, like thine, was pure,
And all its rising fires could smother;
But, now, thy vows no more endure,
Bestow'd by thee upon another.
Perhaps, his peace I could destroy,
And spoil the blisses that await him;
Yet let my Rival smile in joy,
For thy dear sake, I cannot hate him.
Ah! since thy angel form is gone,
My heart no more can rest with any;
But what it sought in thee alone,
Attempts, alas! to find in many,
Then, fare thee well, deceitful Maid!
'Twere vain and fruitless to regret thee;
Nor Hope, nor Memory yield their aid,
But Pride may teach me to forget thee.
Yet all this giddy waste of years,
This tiresome round of palling pleasures;
These varied loves, these matrons' fears,
These thoughtless strains to Passion's measures—
If thou wert mine, had all been hush'd:—
This cheek, now pale from early riot,
With Passion's hectic ne'er had flush'd,
But bloom'd in calm domestic quiet.
Yes, once the rural Scene was sweet,
For Nature seem'd to smile before thee;
And once my Breast abhorr'd deceit,—
For then it beat but to adore thee.
But, now, I seek for other joys—
To think, would drive my soul to madness;
In thoughtless throngs, and empty noise,
I conquer half my Bosom's sadness.
Yet, even in these, a thought will steal,
In spite of every vain endeavour;
And fiends might pity what I feel—
To know that thou art lost for ever.
- To ——.— [Hours of Idleness. Poems O, and T.]
- [These verses were addressed to Mrs. Chaworth Musters. Byron wrote in 1822, "Our meetings were stolen ones.... A gate leading from Mr. Chaworth's grounds to those of my mother was the place of our interviews. The ardour was all on my side. I was serious; she was volatile: she liked me as a younger brother, and treated and laughed at me as a boy; she, however, gave me her picture, and that was something to make verses upon. Had I married her, perhaps, the whole tenour of my life would have been different."—Medwin's Conversations, 1824, p. 81.]