Lord Byron's Poems

Early Poems: The Adieu, Written Under the Impression That the Author Would Soon Die


Adieu, thou Hill! 1 where early joy

Spread roses o'er my brow;

Where Science seeks each loitering boy

With knowledge to endow.

Adieu, my youthful friends or foes,

Partners of former bliss or woes;

No more through Ida's paths we stray;

Soon must I share the gloomy cell,

Whose ever-slumbering inmates dwell

Unconscious of the day.


Adieu, ye hoary Regal Fanes, i

Ye spires of Granta's vale,

Where Learning robed in sable reigns.

And Melancholy pale.

Ye comrades of the jovial hour,

Ye tenants of the classic bower,

On Cama's verdant margin plac'd,

Adieu! while memory still is mine,

For offerings on Oblivion's shrine,

These scenes must be effac'd.


Adieu, ye mountains of the clime

Where grew my youthful years;

Where Loch na Garr in snows sublime

His giant summit rears.

Why did my childhood wander forth

From you, ye regions of the North,

With sons of Pride to roam?

Why did I quit my Highland cave,

Marr's dusky heath, and Dee's clear wave,

To seek a Sotheron home?


Hall of my Sires! a long farewell -

Yet why to thee adieu?

Thy vaults will echo back my knell,

Thy towers my tomb will view:

The faltering tongue which sung thy fall,

And former glories of thy Hall,

Forgets its wonted simple note -

But yet the Lyre retains the strings,

And sometimes, on AEolian wings,

In dying strains may float.


Fields, which surround yon rustic cot, 2

While yet I linger here,

Adieu! you are not now forgot,

To retrospection dear.

Streamlet! 3 along whose rippling surge

My youthful limbs were wont to urge,

At noontide heat, their pliant course;

Plunging with ardour from the shore,

Thy springs will lave these limbs no more,

Deprived of active force.


And shall I here forget the scene,

Still nearest to my breast?

Rocks rise and rivers roll between

The spot which passion blest;

Yet Mary, 4 all thy beauties seem

Fresh as in Love's bewitching dream,

To me in smiles display'd;

Till slow disease resigns his prey

To Death, the parent of decay,

Thine image cannot fade.


And thou, my Friend! whose gentle love

Yet thrills my bosom's chords,

How much thy friendship was above

Description's power of words!

Still near my breast thy gift 5 I wear ii

Which sparkled once with Feeling's tear,

Of Love the pure, the sacred gem:

Our souls were equal, and our lot

In that dear moment quite forgot;

Let Pride alone condemn!


All, all is dark and cheerless now!

No smile of Love's deceit

Can warm my veins with wonted glow,

Can bid Life's pulses beat:

Not e'en the hope of future fame

Can wake my faint, exhausted frame,

Or crown with fancied wreaths my head.

Mine is a short inglorious race, -

To humble in the dust my face,

And mingle with the dead.


Oh Fame! thou goddess of my heart;

On him who gains thy praise,

Pointless must fall the Spectre's dart,

Consumed in Glory's blaze;

But me she beckons from the earth,

My name obscure, unmark'd my birth,

My life a short and vulgar dream:

Lost in the dull, ignoble crowd,

My hopes recline within a shroud,

My fate is Lethe's stream.


When I repose beneath the sod,

Unheeded in the clay,

Where once my playful footsteps trod,

Where now my head must lay, 6

The meed of Pity will be shed

In dew-drops o'er my narrow bed,

By nightly skies, and storms alone;

No mortal eye will deign to steep

With tears the dark sepulchral deep

Which hides a name unknown.


Forget this world, my restless sprite,

Turn, turn thy thoughts to Heaven:

There must thou soon direct thy flight,

If errors are forgiven.

To bigots and to sects unknown,

Bow down beneath the Almighty's Throne;

To Him address thy trembling prayer:

He, who is merciful and just,

Will not reject a child of dust,

Although His meanest care.


Father of Light! to Thee I call;

My soul is dark within:

Thou who canst mark the sparrow's fall,

Avert the death of sin.

Thou, who canst guide the wandering star

Who calm'st the elemental war,

Whose mantle is yon boundless sky,

My thoughts, my words, my crimes forgive;

And, since I soon must cease to live,

Instruct me how to die. iii

1807. First published, 1832.

Footnote 1: Harrow.

Footnote 2: Mrs. Pigot's Cottage.

Footnote 3: The river Grete, at Southwell.

Footnote 4: Mary Chaworth.

Footnote 5: Compare the verses on "The Cornelian," p. 66, and "Pignus Amoris," p. 231.

Footnote 6: See note to "Pignus Amoris," st. 3, l. 3, p. 232.

Footnote i:

' - ye regal Towers'.

'MS. Newstead'.

Footnote ii:

'The gift I wear'.

'MS. Newstead'.

Footnote iii:

'And since I must forbear to live,

Instruct me how to die.'

'MS. Newstead'