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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/Hebrew Melodies/All is Vanity, saith the Preacher



Fame, Wisdom, Love, and Power were mine,
And Health and Youth possessed me;
My goblets blushed from every vine,
And lovely forms caressed me;
I sunned my heart in Beauty's eyes,
And felt my soul grow tender;
All Earth can give, or mortal prize,
Was mine of regal splendour.


I strive to number o'er what days[1]
Remembrance can discover,
Which all that Life or Earth displays
Would lure me to live over.
There rose no day, there rolled no hour
Of pleasure unembittered;[2]
And not a trapping decked my Power
That galled not while it glittered.


The serpent of the field, by art
And spells, is won from harming;
But that which coils around the heart,
Oh! who hath power of charming?
It will not list to Wisdom's lore,
Nor Music's voice can lure it;
But there it stings for evermore
The soul that must endure it.

Seaham, 1815.

  1. My father was the shepherd's son,
    Ah were my lot as lowly
    My earthly course had softly run.—[MS.]

  2. [Compare Childe Harold, Canto I. stanza lxxxii. lines 8, 9—

    "Full from the fount of Joy's delicious springs
    Some bitter o'er the flowers its bubbling venom flings."

    Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 73, and note 16, p. 93.]

  3. Ah! what hath been but what shall be,
    The same dull scene renewinig?
    And all our fathers were are we
    In erring and undoing.—[MS.]