A poem by Lord George Gordon Byron


Could Love for ever
Run like a river,
And Time's endeavour
Be tried in vain -
No other pleasure
With this could measure;
And like a treasure[ik]
We'd hug the chain.
But since our sighing
Ends not in dying,
And, formed for flying,
Love plumes his wing;
Then for this reason
Let's love a season;
But let that season be only Spring.


When lovers parted
Feel broken-hearted,
And, all hopes thwarted,
Expect to die;
A few years older,
Ah! how much colder
They might behold her
For whom they sigh!
When linked together,
In every weather,[il]
They pluck Love's feather
From out his wing -
He'll stay for ever,[im]
But sadly shiver
Without his plumage, when past the Spring.[in]


Like Chiefs of Faction,
His life is action -
A formal paction
That curbs his reign,
Obscures his glory,
Despot no more, he
Such territory
Quits with disdain.
Still, still advancing,
With banners glancing,
His power enhancing,
He must move on -
Repose but cloys him,
Retreat destroys him,
Love brooks not a degraded throne.


Wait not, fond lover!
Till years are over,
And then recover
As from a dream.
While each bewailing
The other's failing.
With wrath and railing,
All hideous seem -
While first decreasing,
Yet not quite ceasing,
Wait not till teasing,
All passion blight:
If once diminished
Love's reign is finished -
Then part in friendship, - and bid good-night.[io]


So shall Affection
To recollection
The dear connection
Bring back with joy:
You had not waited[ip]
Till, tired or hated,
Your passions sated
Began to cloy.
Your last embraces
Leave no cold traces -
The same fond faces
As through the past:
And eyes, the mirrors
Of your sweet errors,
Reflect but rapture - not least though last.


True, separations[iq]
Ask more than patience;
What desperations
From such have risen!
But yet remaining,
What is't but chaining
Hearts which, once waning,
Beat 'gainst their prison?
Time can but cloy love,
And use destroy love:
The wing├ęd boy, Love,
Is but for boys -
You'll find it torture
Though sharper, shorter,
To wean, and not wear out your joys.

December 1, 1819.

[First published, New Monthly Magazine, 1832, vol. xxxv. pp. 310-312.]

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