The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/To a Lady who Presented to the Author a Lock of Hair Braided with his own, and appointed a Night in December to meet him in the Garden

For works with similar titles, see To a Lady and To a Lady (Byron).


These locks, which fondly thus entwine,
In firmer chains our hearts confine,
Than all th' unmeaning protestations
Which swell with nonsense, love orations.
Our love is fix'd, I think we've prov'd it;
Nor time, nor place, nor art have mov'd it;
Then wherefore should we sigh and whine,
With groundless jealousy repine;
With silly whims, and fancies frantic,
Merely to make our love romantic?
Why should you weep, like Lydia Languish,
And fret with self-created anguish?
Or doom the lover you have chosen,
On winter nights to sigh half frozen;
In leafless shades, to sue for pardon,
Only because the scene's a garden?
For gardens seem, by one consent,
(Since Shakespeare set the precedent;
Since Juliet first declar'd her passion)
To form the place of assignation.
Oh! would some modern muse inspire,
And seat her by a sea-coal fire;
Or had the bard at Christmas written,
And laid the scene of love in Britain;
He surely, in commiseration,
Had chang'd the place of declaration.
In Italy, I've no objection,
Warm nights are proper for reflection;
But here our climate is so rigid,
That love itself, is rather frigid:
Think on our chilly situation,
And curb this rage for imitation.
Then let us meet, as oft we've done,
Beneath the influence of the sun;
Or, if at midnight I must meet you,
Within your mansion let me greet you:[2]
There we can love for hours together,
Much better, in such snowy weather,
Than plac'd in all th' Arcadian groves,
That ever witness'd rural loves;
Then if my passion fail to please[3]
Next night I'll be content to freeze;
No more I'll give a loose to laughter,
But curse my fate, for ever after.[4]

  1. [These lines are addressed to the same Mary referred to in the lines beginning, "This faint resemblance of thy charms." (Vide ante, p. 32.)]
  2. Oh! let me in your chamber greet you.—[4to]
  3. There if my passion.—[4to. P. on V. Occasions.]
  4. In the above little piece the author has been accused by some candid readers of introducing the name of a lady [Julia Leacroft] from whom he was some hundred miles distant at the time this was written; and poor Juliet, who has slept so long in "the tomb of all the Capulets," has been converted, with a trifling alteration of her name, into an English damsel, walking in a garden of their own creation, during the month of December, in a village where the author never passed a winter. Such has been the candour of some ingenious critics. We would advise these liberal commentators on taste and arbiters of decorum to read Shakespeare. Having heard that a very severe and indelicate censure has been passed on the above poem, I beg leave to reply in a quotation from an admired work, Carr's Stranger in France.—"As we were contemplating a painting on a large scale, in which, among other figures, is the uncovered whole length of a warrior, a prudish-looking lady, who seemed to have touched the age of desperation, after having attentively surveyed it through her glass, observed to her party that there was a great deal of indecorum in that picture. Madame S. shrewdly whispered in my ear 'that the indecorum was in the remark.'"—[Ed. 1803, cap. xvi. p. 171. Compare the note on verses addressed "To a Knot of Ungenerous Critics," p. 213.]