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Lord Byron
Diodati, July, 1816.


Could I remount the river of my years

To the first fountain of our smiles and tears,

I would not trace again the stream of hours

Between their outworn banks of wither'd flowers,

But bid it flow as now --- until it glides

Into the number of the nameless tides.

What is this death? --- a quiet of the heart?

The whole of that of which we are a part?

For life is but a vision --- what I see

Of all which lives alone is life to me,

And being so --- the absent are the dead,

Who haunt us from tranquility, and spread

A dreary shroud around us, and invest

With sad remembrances our hours of rest.

The absent are the dead --- for they are cold,

And ne'er can be what once we did behold;

And they are changed, and cheerless, --- or if yet

The unforgotten do not all forget.

Since thus divided --- equal must it be

If the deep barrier be of earth, or sea;

It may be both --- but one day end it must

In the dark union of insensate dust.

The under-earth inhabitants --- are they

But mingled millions decomposed to clay?

The ashes of a thousand ages spread

Wherever man has trodden or shall tread?

Or do they in their silent cities dwell

Each in his incommunicative cell?

Or have they their own language? and a sense

Of breathless being?  ---  darken'd and intense

As midnight in her solitude?  --- Oh Earth !

Where are the past?  --- and wherefore had they birth?

The dead are thy inheritors --- and we

But bubbles on thy surface; and the key

Of thy profundity is in the grave,

The ebon portal of thy peopled cave,

Where I would walk in spirit, and behold

Our elements resolved to things untold,

And fathom hidden wonders, and explore

The essence of great bosoms now no more.


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