Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, by George Byron

To Ianthe. 1

Not in those climes where I have late been straying,

Though Beauty long hath there been matchless deemed,

Not in those visions to the heart displaying

Forms which it sighs but to have only dreamed,

Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seemed:

Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek

To paint those charms which varied as they beamed —

To such as see thee not my words were weak;

To those who gaze on thee, what language could they speak?

Ah! mayst thou ever be what now thou art,

Nor unbeseem the promise of thy spring,

As fair in form, as warm yet pure in heart,

Love’s image upon earth without his wing,

And guileless beyond Hope’s imagining!

And surely she who now so fondly rears

Thy youth, in thee, thus hourly brightening,

Beholds the rainbow of her future years,

Before whose heavenly hues all sorrow disappears.

Young Peri of the West! — ’tis well for me

My years already doubly number thine;

My loveless eye unmoved may gaze on thee,

And safely view thy ripening beauties shine:

Happy, I ne’er shall see them in decline;

Happier, that while all younger hearts shall bleed

Mine shall escape the doom thine eyes assign

To those whose admiration shall succeed,

But mixed with pangs to Love’s even loveliest hours decreed.

Oh! let that eye, which, wild as the gazelle’s,

Now brightly bold or beautifully shy,

Wins as it wanders, dazzles where it dwells,

Glance o’er this page, nor to my verse deny

That smile for which my breast might vainly sigh,

Could I to thee be ever more than friend:

This much, dear maid, accord; nor question why

To one so young my strain I would commend,

But bid me with my wreath one matchless lily blend.

Such is thy name with this my verse entwined;

And long as kinder eyes a look shall cast

On Harold’s page, Ianthe’s here enshrined

Shall thus be first beheld, forgotten last:

My days once numbered, should this homage past

Attract thy fairy fingers near the lyre

Of him who hailed thee, loveliest as thou wast,

Such is the most my memory may desire;

Though more than Hope can claim, could Friendship less require?

1 Lady Charlotte Harley, daughter of the Earl of Oxford.

Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:05