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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 3/Stanzas for Music. "There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away"

For works with similar titles, see Stanzas for Music (Byron).


"O Lachrymarum fons, tenero sacros
Ducentium ortus ex animo: quater
Felix! in imo qui scatentem
Pectore te, pia Nympha, sensit."

Gray's Poemata.

[Motto to "The Tear," Poetical Works, 1898, i. 49.]


There's not a joy the world can give like that it takes away,
When the glow of early thought declines in Feeling's dull decay;
'Tis not on Youth's smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast,[2]
But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere Youth itself be past.


Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness
Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt or ocean of excess:
The magnet of their course is gone, or only points in vain
The shore to which their shivered sail shall never stretch again.


Then the mortal coldness of the soul like Death itself comes down;
It cannot feel for others' woes, it dare not dream its own;
That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears,
And though the eye may sparkle still, 'tis where the ice appears.


Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and mirth distract the breast,
Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest;
'Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruined turret wreath,[3][4]
All green and wildly fresh without, but worn and grey beneath.


Oh, could I feel as I have felt,—or be what I have been,
Or weep as I could once have wept, o'er many a vanished scene;
As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish though they be,
So, midst the withered waste of life, those tears would flow to me.

March, 1815.
[First published, Poems, 1816.]

  1. [Byron gave these verses to Moore for Mr. Power of the Strand, who published them, with music by Sir John Stevenson. "I feel merry enough," he wrote, March 2, "to send you a sad song." And again, March 8, 1815, "An event—the death of poor Dorset—and the recollection of what I once felt, and ought to have felt now, but could not—set me pondering, and finally into the train of thought which you have in your hands." A year later, in another letter to Moore, he says, "I pique myself on these lines as being the truest, though the most melancholy, I ever wrote." (March 8, 1816.)—Letters, 1899. iii. 181, 183, 274.]
  2. 'Tis not the blush alone that fades from Beauty's cheek.—[MS.]
  3. As ivy o'er the mouldering wall that heavily hath crept.—[MS.]
  4. [Compare—

    "And oft we see gay ivy's wreath
    The tree with brilliant bloom o'erspread,
    When, part its leaves and gaze beneath,
    We find the hidden tree is dead."

    "To Anna," The Warrior's Return, etc. by
    Mrs. Opie, 1808, p. 144.]