Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
 
V. Death and Bereavement
A Picture of Death
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
From “The Giaour”

    HE who hath bent him o’er the dead
  Ere the first day of death is fled,
  The first dark day of nothingness,
  The last of danger and distress,
  (Before Decay’s effacing fingers        5
  Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,)
  And marked the mild angelic air,
  The rapture of repose, that ’s there,
  The fixed yet tender traits that streak
  The languor of the placid cheek,        10
  And—but for that sad shrouded eye,
  That fires not, wins not, weeps not now,
  And but for that chill, changeless brow,
  Where cold Obstruction’s apathy
  Apalls the gazing mourner’s heart,        15
  As if to him it could impart
  The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon;
  Yes, but for these and these alone,
  Some moments, ay, one treacherous hour,
  He still might doubt the tyrant’s power;        20
  So fair, so calm, so softly sealed,
  The first, last look by death revealed!
  Such is the aspect of this shore;
  ’T is Greece, but living Greece no more!
  So coldly sweet, so deadly fair,        25
  We start, for soul is wanting there.
  Hers is the loveliness in death,
  That parts not quite with parting breath;
  But beauty with that fearful bloom,
  That hue which haunts it to the tomb,        30
  Expression’s last receding ray,
  A gilded halo hovering round decay,
  The farewell beam of Feeling past away;
Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth,
Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished earth!        35
 
 
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