" Darkness " by Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars

Did wander darkling in the eternal space,

Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth

Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;

Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,

And men forgot their passions in the dread

Of this their desolation; and all hearts

Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:

And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,

The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,

The habitations of all things which dwell,

Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,

And men were gather’d round their blazing homes

To look once more into each other’s face;

Happy were those who dwelt within the eye

Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:

A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;

Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour

They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks

Extinguish’d with a crash—and all was black.

The brows of men by the despairing light

Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits

The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest

Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil’d;

And others hurried to and fro, and fed

Their funeral piles with fuel, and look’d up

With mad disquietude on the dull sky,

The pall of a past world; and then again

With curses cast them down upon the dust,

And gnash’d their teeth and howl’d: the wild birds shriek’d

And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,

And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes

Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl’d

And twin’d themselves among the multitude,

Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food.

And War, which for a moment was no more,

Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart

Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;

All earth was but one thought—and that was death

Immediate and inglorious; and the pang

Of famine fed upon all entrails—men

Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;

The meagre by the meagre were devour’d,

Even dogs assail’d their masters, all save one,

And he was faithful to a corse, and kept

The birds and beasts and famish’d men at bay,

Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead

Lur’d their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,

But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand

Which answer’d not with a caress—he died.

The crowd was famish’d by degrees; but two

Of an enormous city did survive,

And they were enemies: they met beside

The dying embers of an altar-place

Where had been heap’d a mass of holy things

For an unholy usage; they rak’d up,

And shivering scrap’d with their cold skeleton hands

The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath

Blew for a little life, and made a flame

Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld

Each other’s aspects—saw, and shriek’d, and died—

Even of their mutual hideousness they died,

Unknowing who he was upon whose brow

Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,

The populous and the powerful was a lump,

Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—

A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.

The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,

And nothing stirr’d within their silent depths;

Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,

And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp’d

They slept on the abyss without a surge—

The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,

The moon, their mistress, had expir’d before;
The winds were wither’d in the stagnant air,

And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need

Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

Happy Birthday George Gordon Byron (later Noel), 6th Baron Byron, FRS  (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron!

From our stacks: Frontispiece “_ by G. Sanders. 1807. Engraved by Edward Finden” from Finden’s Landscape & Portrait Illustrations to the Life and Works of Lord Byron. Vol. III. London: Published by John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1837.

He had no breath, no being, but in hers;       
She was his voice; he did not speak to her,
But trembled on her words; she was his sight,
For his eye follow’d hers, and saw with hers,
Which colour’d all his objects:—he had ceased
To live within himself; she was his life,        
The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
Which terminated all: upon a tone,
A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow,
And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart
Unknowing of its cause of agony.
—  Lord Byron, from “The Dream
“So We’ll Go No More A-Roving”-George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1816)

So, we’ll go no more a-roving  
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,  
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,  
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,  
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,  
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving  
By the light of the moon.

Happy birthday to Lord Byron.

The First Kiss Of Love

The First Kiss Of Love

Away with your fictions of flimsy romance,
Those tissues of falsehood which Folly has wove;
Give me the mild beam of the soul-breathing glance,
Or the rapture which dwells on the first kiss of love.

Ye rhymers, whose bosoms with fantasy glow,
Whose pastoral passions are made for the grove;
From what blest inspiration your sonnets would flow,
Could you ever have tasted the first kiss of love.

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She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
    Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
    Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
    But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent!

- Lord Byron

O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free,
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
Survey our empire, and behold our home!
These are our realms, no limit to their sway,—
Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.
—  Canto I, stanza 1 of The Corsair (1814) by Lord Byron, born January 22nd, 1788.
In the blue depth of the waters,
 Where the wave hath no strife,
Where the wind is a stranger,         
 And the sea-snake hath life,
Where the Mermaid is decking
 Her green hair with shells;
Like the storm on the surface
 Came the sound of thy spells;         
O’er my calm Hall of Coral
 The deep echo roll’d—
To the Spirit of Ocean
 Thy wishes unfold!
—  Lord Byron, Manfred
Dear Doctor, I have read your play,
Which is a good one in its way,
Purges the eyes, and moves the bowels,
And drenches handkerchiefs like towels
With tears that, in a flux of grief,
Afford hysterical relief
To shatter’d nerves and quicken’d pulses,
Which your catastrophe convulses.
—  Lord Byron, from “Dear Doctor, I have read your play,” written for his publisher John Murray, who asked Byron to compose a rejection delicately declining to publish a tragedy Murray had been sent by John Polidori.
I would to Heaven that I were so much clay
As I am blood– bone– marrow– passion– feeling
Because at least the past were past away–
And for the future (but I write this reeling,
Having got exceedingly drunk today
So that I seem to stand upon the ceiling)
I say, the future is a serious matter
And so, for God’s sake, hock and soda water.
—  Lord Byron

Percy Bysshe Shelley (played by Oliver Dimsdale) reads stanzas 213 and 218 of Don Juan: Canto I by George Gordon Lord Byron (played by Jonny Lee Miller) - From the 2003 BBC film Byron.

From Don Juan: Canto I
by Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)


But now at thrity years my hair is grey —
(I wonder what it will be like at forty?
I thought of a peruke the other day —)
My heart is not much greener; and, in short, I
Have squandered my whole summer while ‘twas May,
And feel no more the spirit to retort; I
Have spent my life, both interest and principal,
And deem not, what I deemed, my soul invincible.


What is the end of fame? ‘tis but to fill
A certain portion of uncertain paper:
Some liken it to climbing up a hill,
Whose summit, like all hills, is lost in vapour;
For this men write, speak, preach, and heroes kill,
And bards burn what they call their “midnight taper”,
To have, when the original is dust,
A name, a wretched picture, and worse bust.