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EPISTLE TO AUGUSTA

By
Lord Byron
1816
( First published 1830 )


&/\&/\&

I

My Sister !  my sweet Sister !    if a name

Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.

Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim

No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:

Go where I will, to me thou art the same ---

A loved regret which I would not resign.

There yet are two things in my destiny, ---

A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
 

II

The first were nothing --- had I still the last,

It were the haven of my happiness;

But other claims and other ties thou hast,

And mine is not the wish to make them less.

A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past

Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;

Reversed for him our grandsire's fate of yore, ---

He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.
 

III

If my inheritance of storms hath been

In other elements, and on the rocks

Of perils, overlooked or unforeseen,

I have sustained my share of worldly shocks,

The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen

My errors with defensive paradox;

I have been cunning in mine overthrow,

The careful pilot of my proper woe.
 

IV

Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward.

My whole life was a contest, since the day

That gave me being, gave me that which marred

The gift, --- a fate, or will, that walked astray;

And I at times have found the struggle hard,

And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:

But now I fain would for a time survive,

If but to see what next can well arrive.
 

V

Kingdoms and Empires in my little day

I have outlived, and yet I am not old;

And when I look on this, the petty spray

Of my own years of trouble, which have rolled

Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:

Something --- I know not what --- does still uphold

A spirit of slight patience; --- not in vain,

Even for its own sake, do we purchase Pain.
 

VI

Perhaps the workings of defiance stir

Within me --- or, perhaps, a cold despair

Brought on when ills habitually recur, ---

Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,

( For even to this may change of soul refer,

And with light armour we may learn to bear, )

Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not

The chief companion of a calmer lot.
 

VII

I feel almost at times as I have felt

In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,

Which do remember me of where I dwelt,

Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,

Come as of yore upon me, and can melt

My heart with recognition of their looks;

And even at moments I could think I see

Some living thing to love --- but none like thee.
 

VIII

Here are the Alpine landscapes which create

A fund for contemplation; --- to admire

Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;

But something worthier do such scenes inspire:

Here to be lonely is not desolate,

For much I view which I could most desire,

And, above all, a Lake I can behold

Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
 

IX

Oh that thou wert but with me ! --- but I grow

The fool of my own wishes, and forget

The solitude which I have vaunted so

Has lost its praise in this but one regret:

There may be others which I less may show; ---

I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet

I feel an ebb in my philosophy,

And the tide rising in my altered eye.
 

X

I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,

By the old Hall which may be mine no more.

Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake

The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:

Sad havoc Time must with my memory make,

Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;

Though, like all things which I have loved, they are

Resigned for ever, or divided far.
 

XI

The world is all before me; I but ask

Of Nature that with which she will comply ---

It is but in her Summer's sun to bask,

To mingle with the quiet of her sky,

To see her gentle face without a mask,

And never gaze on it with apathy.

She was my early friend, and now shall be

My sister --- till I look again on thee.
 

XII

I can reduce all feelings but this one, ---

And that I would not; --- for at length I see

Such scenes as those wherein my life begun ---

The earliest --- even the only paths for me ---

Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,

I had been better than I now can be;

The Passions which have torn me would have slept ---

I had not suffered, and thou hadst not wept.
 

XIII

With false Ambition what had I to do?

Little with Love, and least of all with Fame;

And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,

And made me all which they can make --- a Name.

Yet this was not the end I did pursue;

Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.

But all is over --- I am one the more

To baffled millions which have gone before.
 

XIV

And for the future, this world's future may

From me demand but little of my care:

I have outlived myself by many a day,

Having survived so many things that were;

My years have been no slumber, but the prey

Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share

Of life which might have filled a century,

Before its fourth in time had passed me by.
 

XV

And for the remnant which may be to come

I am content; and for the past I feel

Not thankless, --- for within the crowded sum

Of struggles, Happiness at times would steal,

And, for the present, I would not benumb

My feelings farther. --- Nor shall I conceal

That with all this I still can look around,

And worship Nature with a thought profound.
 

XVI

For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart

I know myself secure, as thou in mine;

We were and are --- I am, even as thou art ---

Beings who ne'er each other can resign;

It is the same, together or apart ---

From Life's commencement to its slow decline

We are entwined --- let Death come slow or fast,

The tie which bound the first endures the last !
 

&/\&/\&
 

Stanzas to Augusta (1)

Stanzas to Augusta (2)
 

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