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The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 7/On this Day I complete my Thirty-sixth Year



'T is time this heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move:
Yet, though I cannot be beloved,
Still let me love!


My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of Love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!


The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone[2] as some Volcanic isle;
No torch is kindled at its blaze—
A funeral pile.


The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of love, I cannot share,
But wear the chain.


But 't is not thus—and 't is not here[3]
Such thoughts should shake my soul, nor now
Where Glory decks the hero's bier,[4]
Or binds his brow.


The Sword, the Banner, and the Field,[5]
Glory and Greece, around me see!
The Spartan, borne upon his shield,[6]
Was not more free.


Awake! (not Greece—she is awake!)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom
Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake,[7]
And then strike home!


Tread those reviving passions down,[8]
Unworthy manhood!—unto thee
Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of Beauty be.


If thou regret'st thy youth, why live?
The land of honourable death
Is here:—up to the Field, and give
Away thy breath!


Seek out—less often sought than found—
A soldier's grave, for thee the best;
Then look around, and choose thy ground,
And take thy Rest.

Missolonghi, Jan. 22, 1824.
[First published, Morning Chronicle, October 29, 1824.]

  1. ["This morning Lord Byron came from his bedroom into the apartment where Colonel Stanhope and some friends were assembled, and said with a smile—'You were complaining, the other day, that I never write any poetry now:—this is my birthday, and I have just finished something, which, I think, is better than what I usually write.' He then produced these noble and affecting verses, which were afterwards found written in his journals, with only the following introduction: 'Jan. 22; on this day I complete my 36th year.'"—A Narrative of Lord Byron's Last Journey to Greece, 1825, p. 125, by Count Gamba. In the Morning Chronicle, October 29, 1824, the lines are headed, "Lord Byron's Latest Verses," and are prefaced by the following note: " We have been indebted to a friend for the following immortal verses, the last he ever composed. Four of the lines have already appeared in an article in the Westminster Review" ("Lord Byron in Greece," July, 1824, vol. ii. p. 227).]
  2. Is like to ——.—[M.C.]
  3. —— it is not here.—[M.C.]
  4. —— seals the hero's bier.—[M. C.]
  5. The steed—the Banner—and the Field.—[MS. B.M.]
  6. [The slain were borne on their shields. Witness the Spartan mother's speech to her son, delivered with his buckler: "either with this or on this" (B.M. Addit. MS. 31, 038).]
  7. My life-blood tastes ——.—[M.C.]
  8. I tread reviving ——.—[M. C.]