Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO THE SPIRIT OF BYRON, by ROBERT UNDERWOOD JOHNSON

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TO THE SPIRIT OF BYRON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thou more than poet, freedom's laureate
Last Line: To belgium thou hadst poured libation of thy life!
Subject(s): Byron, George Gordon, Lord (1788-1824); Poetry & Poets; Byron, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron


THOU more than poet, Freedom's laureate,
Byron! Although some tyrant hand should blot
All pages that to her are consecrate
By loyal bards -- thus doomed to be forgot --
Who should despair if thine were quenched not?
Oh, for thy voice when the world's heart is wrung
At Honor made a barrack-jest and plot!
To what invective hadst thou given tongue!
Mourner of Rome, what dirge for Belgium hadst thou sung!


What of her children ravaged from her heart --
Those cities proud of lore and fair of mien:
Liege, that cradled Charlemagne; that mart
Of many seas, rich Antwerp; old Malines;
And royal Brussels seated like a queen;
Bruges the melodious, and flowery Ghent,
And wise Louvain? . . . Oh, Byron, hadst thou seen
The tears and terror, who could be content
By lesser song than thine that grief and blame be blent?


Revered is Valor -- ay, but Honor more.
A score of centuries doth History save
Caesar's "brave Belgians": for how many a score
Shall live the word these to the Teuton gave
When they must choose dishonor or the grave!
They knew before they took Despair to wife,
Man's mind and not his master makes him slave.
What theme for thee, ere, Singer of Great Strife,
To Belgium thou hadst poured libation of thy life!

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