Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Extracts from Don Juan: Donna Julia’s Letter
By Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
[From Canto I.]

THEY tell me ’tis decided you depart:
  ’Tis wise—’tis well, but not the less a pain;
I have no further claim on your young heart,
  Mine is the victim, and would be again:
To love too much has been the only art        5
  I used;—I write in haste, and if a stain
Be on this sheet, ’tis not what it appears;
My eyeballs burn and throb, but have no tears.
 
I loved, I love you; for this love have lost
  State, station, heaven, mankind’s, my own esteem,        10
And yet cannot regret what it hath cost,
  So dear is still the memory of that dream;
Yet, if I name my guilt, ’tis not to boast,
  None can deem harshlier of me than I deem:
I trace this scrawl because I cannot rest—        15
I’ve nothing to reproach or to request.
 
Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart,
  ’Tis woman’s whole existence; man may range
The court, camp, church, the vessel, and the mart;
  Sword, gown, gain, glory, offer in exchange        20
Pride, fame, ambition, to fill up his heart,
  And few there are whom these cannot estrange;
Men have all these resources, we but one,
To love again, and be again undone.
 
You will proceed in pleasure, and in pride,        25
  Beloved and loving many; all is o’er
For me on earth, except some years to hide
  My shame and sorrow deep in my heart’s core:
These I could bear, but cannot cast aside
  The passion which still rages as before,—        30
And so farewell—forgive me, love me—No,
That word is idle now—but let it go.
 
My breast has been all weakness, is so yet;
  But still I think I can collect my mind;
My blood still rushes where my spirit ’s set,        35
  As roll the waves before the settled wind;
My heart is feminine, nor can forget—
  To all, except one image, madly blind,
So shakes the needle, and so stands the pole,
As vibrates my fond heart to my fix’d soul.        40
 
I have no more to say, but linger still,
  And dare not set my seal upon this sheet,
And yet I may as well the task fulfil,
  My misery can scarce be more complete:
I had not lived till now, could sorrow kill;        45
  Death shuns the wretch who fain the blow would meet,
And I must even survive this last adieu,
And bear with life, to love and pray for you!
 
 
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