Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
Could Love For Ever
By Lord Byron (1788–1824)
          COULD Love for ever
          Run like a river,
          And Time’s endeavour
            Be tried in vain—
          No other pleasure        5
          With this could measure:
          And like a treasure
            We’d hug the chain.
          But since our sighing
          Ends not in dying,        10
          And, form’d for flying,
            Love plumes his wing;
          Then for this reason
          Let’s love a season;
But let that season be only Spring.        15
          When lovers parted
          Feel broken-hearted,
          And, all hopes thwarted,
            Expect to die;
          A few years older,        20
          Ah! how much colder
          They might behold her
            For whom they sigh!
          When link’d together,
          In every weather,        25
          They pluck Love’s feather
            From out his wing—
          He’ll stay for ever,
          But sadly shiver
Without his plumage, when past the Spring.        30
          Like Chiefs of Faction,
          His life is action—
          A formal paction
            That curbs his reign,
          Obscures his glory,        35
          Despot no more, he
          Such territory
            Quits with disdain.
          Still, still advancing,
          With banners glancing,        40
          His power enhancing,
            He must move on—
          Repose but cloys him,
          Retreat destroys him,
Love brooks not a degraded throne.        45
          Wait not, fond lover!
          Till years are over,
          And then recover,
            As from a dream.
          While each bewailing        50
          The other’s failing,
          With wrath and railing,
            All hideous seem—
          While first decreasing,
          Yet not quite ceasing,        55
          Wait not till teasing
            All passion blight:
          If once diminish’d
          Love reign is finish’d—
Then part in friendship,—and bid good-night.        60
          So shall Affection
          To recollection
          The dear connection
            Bring back with joy:
          You had not waited        65
          Till, tired or hated,
          Your passions sated
            Began to coy.
          Your last embraces
          Leave no cold traces—        70
          The same fond faces—
            As through the past;
          And eyes, the mirrors
          Of your sweet errors,
Reflect but rapture—not least though last.        75
          True, separations
          Ask more than patience;
          What desperations
            From such have risen!
          But yet remaining,        80
          What is’t but chaining
          Hearts which, once waning,
            Beat ’gainst their prison?
          Time can but cloy love,
          And use destroy love:        85
          The wingèd boy, Love,
            Is but for boys—
          You’ll find it torture
          Though sharper, shorter,
To wean, and not wear out your joys.        90

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