Lord Byron Poem

Stanzas, Could Love for ever

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       Could Love for ever
       Run like a river,
       And Time’s endeavour
         Be tried in vain—
       No other pleasure
       With this could measure;
       And like a treasure
          We’d hug the chain.
       But since our sighing
       Ends not in dying,
       And, formed for flying,
          Love plumes his wing;
       Then for this reason
       Let’s love a season;
But let that season be only Spring.


       When lovers parted
       Feel broken-hearted,
       And, all hopes thwarted,
          Expect to die;
       A few years older,
       Ah! how much colder
       They might behold her
          For whom they sigh!
       When linked together,
       In every weather,
       They pluck Love’s feather
          From out his wing—
       He’ll stay for ever,
       But sadly shiver
Without his plumage, when past the Spring.


       Like Chiefs of Faction,
       His life is action—
       A formal paction
          That curbs his reign,
       Obscures his glory,
       Despot no more, he
       Such territory
          Quits with disdain.
       Still, still advancing,
       With banners glancing,
       His power enhancing,
          He must move on—
       Repose but cloys him,
       Retreat destroys him,
Love brooks not a degraded throne.


       Wait not, fond lover!
       Till years are over,
       And then recover
          As from a dream.
       While each bewailing
       The other’s failing,
       With wrath and railing,
          All hideous seem—
       While first decreasing,
       Yet not quite ceasing,
       Wait not till teasing,
          All passion blight:
       If once diminished
       Love’s reign is finished—
Then part in friendship,—and bid good-night.


       So shall Affection
       To recollection
       The dear connection
          Bring back with joy:
       You had not waited”
       Till, tired or hated,
       Your passions sated
          Began to cloy.
       Your last embraces
       Leave no cold traces—
       The same fond faces
          As through the past:
       And eyes, the mirrors
       Of your sweet errors,
Reflect but rapture—not least though last.


       True, separations
       Ask more than patience;
       What desperations
          From such have risen!
       But yet remaining,
       What is’t but chaining
       Hearts which, once waning,
          Beat ‘gainst their prison?
       Time can but cloy love,
       And use destroy love:
       The wingéd boy, Love,
          Is but for boys—
       You’ll find it torture
       Though sharper, shorter,
To wean, and not wear out your joys.

December 1, 1819.
[First published, New Monthly Magazine, 1832,
vol. xxxv. pp. 310-312.]

Ode to a Lady whose Lover was killed by a Ball, which at the same time shivered a portrait next his heart
Sonnet to the Prince Regent


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