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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 7/A Version of Ossian's Address to the Sun

A VERSION OF OSSIAN'S ADDRESS TO THE SUN.

FROM THE POEM "CARTHON."

O Thou! who rollest in yon azure field,
Round as the orb of my forefather's shield,
Whence are thy beams? From what eternal store
Dost thou, O Sun! thy vast effulgence pour?
In awful grandeur, when thou movest on high,
The stars start back and hide them in the sky;
The pale Moon sickens in thy brightening blaze,
And in the western wave avoids thy gaze.
Alone thou shinest forth—for who can rise
Companion of thy splendour in the skies!
The mountain oaks are seen to fall away—
Mountains themselves by length of years decay—
With ebbs and flows is the rough Ocean tost;
In heaven the Moon is for a season lost,
But thou, amidst the fullness of thy joy,
The same art ever, blazing in the sky!
When tempests wrap the world from pole to pole,
When vivid lightnings flash and thunders roll,
Thou far above their utmost fury borne,
Look'st forth in beauty, laughing them to scorn.
But vainly now on me thy beauties blaze—
Ossian no longer can enraptured gaze!

Works of Lord Byron Poetry Volume 7 facing page 2.jpg

MRS. BIRDMERE'S HOUSE, SOUTHWELL.


Whether at morn, in lucid lustre gay,
On eastern clouds thy yellow tresses play,
Or else at eve, in radiant glory drest,
Thou tremblest at the portals of the west,
I see no more! But thou mayest fail at length,
Like Ossian lose thy beauty and thy strength,
Like him—but for a season—in thy sphere
To shine with splendour, then to disappear!
Thy years shall have an end, and thou no more
Bright through the world enlivening radiance pour,
But sleep within thy clouds, and fail to rise,
Heedless when Morning calls thee to the skies!
Then now exult, O Sun! and gaily shine,
While Youth and Strength and Beauty all are thine.
For Age is dark, unlovely, as the light
Shed by the Moon when clouds deform the night,
Glimmering uncertain as they hurry past.
Loud o'er the plain is heard the northern blast,
Mists shroud the hills, and 'neath the growing gloom,
The weary traveller shrinks and sighs for home.

1806.
[First published, Atlantic Monthly, December, 1898.][1]

  1. [I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Pierre De La Rose for sending me a copy of the foregoing Version of Ossian's Address to the Sun, which was "Privately printed at the Press of Oliver B. Graves, Cambridge, Massachusetts, June the Tenth, MDCCCXCVIII.," and was reprinted in the Atlantic Monthly in December, 1898. A prefatory note entitled, "From Lord Byron's Notes," is prefixed to the Version: "In Lord Byron's copy of The Poems of Ossian (printed by Dewick and Clarke, London, 1806), which, since 1874, has been in the possession of the Library of Harvard University as part of the Sumner Bequest. The notes which follow appear in Byron's hand." (For the Notes, see the Atlantic Monthly, 1898, vol. lxxxii. pp. 810-814.) It is strange that Byron should have made two versions (for another "version" from the Newstead MSS., see Poetical Works, 1898, i. 229-231) of the "Address to the Sun," which forms the conclusion of "Carthon;" but the Harvard version appears to be genuine. It is to be noted that Byron appended to the earlier version eighteen lines of his own composition, by way of moral or application.]