Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JULIAN, by GEORGE GORDON BYRON



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JULIAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The night came on the waters - all was rest
Last Line: With honest wonder what might next betide.
Alternate Author Name(s): Byron, Lord; Byron, 6th Baron
Subject(s): Sea


[A FRAGMENT]

THE Night came on the Waters -- all was rest
On Earth -- but Rage on Ocean's troubled Heart.
The Waves arose and roll'd beneath the blast;
The Sailors gazed upon their shiver'd Mast.
In that dark Hour a long loud gather'd cry
From out the billows pierced the sable sky,
And borne o'er breakers reach'd the craggy shore --
The Sea roars on -- that Cry is heard no more.

There is no vestige, in the Dawning light,
Of those that shriek'd thro' shadows of the Night.
The Bark -- the Crew -- the very Wreck is gone,
Marr'd -- mutilated -- traceless -- all save one.
In him there still is Life, the Wave that dash'd
On shore the plank to which his form was lash'd,
Return'd unheeding of its helpless Prey --
The lone survivor of that Yesterday --
The one of Many whom the withering Gale
Hath left unpunish'd to record their Tale.
But who shall hear it? on that barren Sand
None comes to stretch the hospitable hand.
That shore reveals no print of human foot,
Nor e'en the pawing of the wilder Brute;
And niggard vegetation will not smile,
All sunless on that solitary Isle.

The naked Stranger rose, and wrung his hair,
And that first moment pass'd in silent prayer.
Alas! the sound -- he sunk into Despair --
He was on Earth -- but what was Earth to him,
Houseless and homeless -- bare both breast and limb?
Cut off from all but Memory he curst
His fate -- his folly -- but himself the worst.
What was his hope? he look'd upon the Wave --
Despite -- of all -- it still may be his Grave!

He rose and with a feeble effort shaped
His course unto the billows -- late escaped:
But weakness conquer'd -- swam his dizzy glance,
And down to Earth he sunk in silent trance.
How long his senses bore its chilling chain,
He knew not -- but, recall'd to Life again,
A stranger stood beside his shivering form --
And what was he? had he too scaped the storm?

He raised young Julian. 'Is thy Cup so full
Of bitterness -- thy Hope -- thy heart so dull
That thou shouldst from Thee dash the Draught of Life,
So late escaped the elemental strife!
Rise -- tho' these shores few aids to Life supply,
Look upon me, and know thou shalt not die.
Thou gazest in mute wonder -- more may be
Thy marvel when thou knowest mine and me.
But come -- The bark that bears us hence shall find
Her Haven, soon, despite the warning Wind.'

He raised young Julian from the sand, and such
Strange power of healing dwelt within the touch,
That his weak limbs grew light with freshen'd Power,
As he had slept not fainted in that hour,
And woke from Slumber -- as the Birds awake,
Recall'd at morning from the branched brake,
When the day's promise heralds early Spring,
And Heaven unfolded woos their soaring wing:
So Julian felt, and gazed upon his Guide,
With honest Wonder what might next betide.





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