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First Line: We mourn thy wreck; that mighty mind
Last Line: And scorned both hope and fear -- ambition and desire!
Subject(s): Byron, George Gordon, Lord (1788-1824); Poetry & Poets; Byron, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron

WE mourn thy wreck; -- that mighty mind
Did whirlwind passions whelm,
While wisdom waver'd, half inclined
To quit the dangerous helm;
Thou wast an argosy of cost,
Equipp'd, enrich'd in vain,
Of gods the work -- of men the boast,
Glory thy port, -- and doomed to gain
That splendid haven, only to be lost!

Lost, even when Greece, with conquest blest,
Thy gallant bearing hail'd; --
Then sighs from valour's mailed breast,
And tears of beauty fail'd;
Oh! hadst thou in the battle died,
Triumphant even in death,
The patriot's as the poet's pride,
While both Minervas twined thy wreath,
Then had thy full career malice and fate defied!

What architect, with choice design,
-- Of Rome or Athens styled --
Ere left a monument like thine? --
And all from ruins piled!
A prouder motto marks thy stone
Than Archimedes' tomb;
He asked a fulcrum -- thou demandest none,
But -- reckless of past, present, and to come --
Didst on thyself depend, to shake the world -- alone!

Thine eye to all extremes and ends
And opposites could turn,
And, like the congelated lens,
Could sparkle, freeze, or burn; --
But in thy mind's abyss profound,
As in some limbo vast,
More shapes and monsters did abound,
To set the wondering world aghast,
Than wave-worn Noah fed, or starry Tuscan found!

Was love thy lay, -- Cithaera rein'd
Her car, and own'd the spell!
Was hate thy theme, -- that murky fiend
For hotter earth left hell!
The palaced crown, the cloister'd cowl,
Moved but thy spleen or mirth;
Thy smile was deadlier than thy scowl,
In guise unearthly didst thou roam the earth,
Screen'd in Thalia's mask, -- to drug the tragic bowl!

Lord of thine own imperial sky,
In virgin "pride of place,"
Thou soared'st where others could not fly,
And hardly dared to gaze! --
The condor, thus, his pennon'd vane
O'er Cotopaxa spreads,
But -- should he ken the prey, or scent the slain, --
Nor chilling height nor burning depth he dreads,
From Andes' crystal crag, to Lima's sultry plain!

Like Lucan's, early was thy tomb,
And more than Bion's mourn'd; --
For, still, such lights themselves consume,
The brightest, briefest burn'd: --
But from thy blazing shield recoiled
Pale envy's bolt of lead;
She, but to work thy triumphs, toil'd,
And, muttering coward curses, fled; --
Thee, thine own strength alone -- like matchless
Milo -- foil'd.

We prize thee, that thou didst not fear
What stoutest hearts might rack,
And didst the diamond genius wear,
That tempts -- yet foils -- the attack.
We mourn thee, that thou wouldst not find,
While prison'd in thy clay,
-- Since such there were, -- some kindred mind, --
For friendship lasts through life's long day,
And doth, with surer chain than love or beauty, bind!

We blame thee, that with baleful light
Thou didst astound the world,
-- A comet, plunging from its height,
And into chaos hurl'd! --
Accorded king of anarch power,
And talent misapplied:
That hid thy God, in evil hour,
Or showed Him only to deride,
And, o'er the gifted blaze of thine own brightness, lour!

Thy fierce volcanic breast, o'ercast
With Hecla's frosty cloak,
All earth with fire impure could blast,
And darken heaven with smoke:
O'er ocean, continent, and isle,
The conflagration ran: --
Thou, from thy throne of ice, the while,
Didst the red ruin calmly scan,
And tuned Apollo's harp -- with Nero's ghastly smile!

What now avails that muse of fire, --
Her nothing of a name!
Thy master hand and matchless lyre,
What have they gained -- but fame!
Fame -- Fancy's child -- by folly fed,
On breath of meanest things, --
A phantom, wooed in virtue's stead,
That envy to the living brings,
And silent, solemn mockery to the dead!

Ne'er, since the deep-toned Theban sung
Unto the listening nine, --
Has classic hill or valley rung
With harmony like thine!
Who now shall wake thy willow'd lyre!
-- There breathes but one, who dares
To that He culean task aspire;
But -- less than thou -- for fame he cares,
And scorned both hope and fear -- ambition and desire!

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