Lord Byron's Poems

Early Poems: To Eliza


Eliza! 1 what fools are the Mussulman sect,

Who, to woman, deny the soul's future existence;

Could they see thee, Eliza! they'd own their defect,

And this doctrine would meet with a general resistance. ii


Had their Prophet possess'd half an atom of sense, iii

He ne'er would have 'woman' from Paradise driven;

Instead of his 'Houris', a flimsy pretence, iv

With 'woman alone' he had peopled his Heaven.


Yet, still, to increase your calamities more, v

Not content with depriving your bodies of spirit,

He allots one poor husband to share amongst four! vi -

With 'souls' you'd dispense; but, this last, who could bear it?


His religion to please neither party is made;

On 'husbands' 'tis 'hard', to the wives most uncivil;

Still I can't contradict, vii what so oft has been said,

"Though women are angels, yet wedlock's the devil."


This terrible truth, even Scripture has told, 2

Ye Benedicks! hear me, and listen with rapture;

If a glimpse of redemption you wish to behold,

Of ST. MATT. - read the second and twentieth chapter.


'Tis surely enough upon earth to be vex'd,

With wives who eternal confusion are spreading;

"But in Heaven" (so runs the Evangelists' Text)

"We neither have giving in marriage, or wedding."


From this we suppose, (as indeed well we may,)

That should Saints after death, with their spouses put up more,

And wives, as in life, aim at absolute sway,

All Heaven would ring with the conjugal uproar.


Distraction and Discord would follow in course,

Nor MATTHEW, nor MARK, nor ST. PAUL, can deny it,

The only expedient is general divorce,

To prevent universal disturbance and riot.


But though husband and wife, shall at length be disjoin'd,

Yet woman and man ne'er were meant to dissever,

Our chains once dissolv'd, and our hearts unconfin'd,

We'll love without bonds, but we'll love you for ever.


Though souls are denied you by fools and by rakes,

Should you own it yourselves, I would even then doubt you,

Your nature so much of 'celestial' partakes,

The Garden of Eden would wither without you.

Southwell, 'October' 9, 1806.

Footnote 1: The letters "E. B. P." are added, in a lady's hand, in the annotated copy of 'P. on V. Occasions', p. 26 ('British Museum'). The initials stand for Miss Elizabeth Pigot.

Footnote 2: Stanzas 5-10, which appear in the Quarto, were never reprinted.

Footnote i:

'To Miss E. P.'

'To Miss' - -. 'P. on V. Occasions.'

Footnote ii:

'Did they know but yourself they would bend with respect,

And this doctrine must meet' - -.

'MS. Newstead'.

Footnote iii: 'But an atom of sense'.

Footnote iv: 'But instead of his' Houris.

Footnote v: 'But still to increase'.

Footnote vi: 'He allots but one husband.

Footnote vii: 'But I can't - -.'