Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DUEL, by GEORGE GORDON BYRON



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THE DUEL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis fifty years, and yet their fray
Last Line: And old ordeal of the heart.
Alternate Author Name(s): Byron, Lord; Byron, 6th Baron
Subject(s): Duels; Musters, Mary Chaworth


'T IS fifty years, and yet their fray
To us might seem but yesterday.
'T is fifty years, and three to boot,
Since, hand to hand, and foot to foot,
And heart to heart, and sword to sword,
One of our Ancestors was gored.
I've seen the sword that slew him; he,
The slain, stood in a like degree
To thee, as he, the Slayer, stood
(Oh had it been but other blood!)
In kin and Chieftainship to me.
Thus came the Heritage to thee.

To me the Lands of him who slew
Came through a line of yore renown'd;
For I can boast a race as true
To Monarchs crown'd, and some discrown'd,
As ever Britain's Annals knew:
For the first Conqueror gave us Ground,
And the last Conquer'd own'd the line
Which was my mother's, and is mine.

I loved thee -- I will not say how,
Since things like these are best forgot:
Perhaps thou mayst imagine now
Who loved thee, and who loved thee not.
And thou wert wedded to another,
And I at last another wedded:
I am a father, thou a mother,
To Strangers vow'd, with strangers bedded
For land to land, even blood to blood --
Since leagued of yore our fathers were --
Our manors and our birthright stood;
And not unequal had I woo'd,
If to have woo'd thee I could dare.
But this I never dared -- even yet
When nought is left but to forget.
I feel that I could only love:
To sue was never meant for me,
And least of all to sue to thee;
For many a bar, and many a feud,
Though never told, well understood,
Roll'd like a river wide between --
And then there was the Curse of blood,
Which even my Heart's cannot remove.
Alas! how many things have been!
Since we were friends; for I alone
Feel more for thee than can be shown.

How many things! I loved thee -- thou
Lovedst me not: another was
The Idol of thy virgin vow,
And I was, what I am, Alas!
And what he is, and what thou art,
And what we were, is like the rest:
We must endure it as a test,
And old Ordeal of the Heart.





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