"Epistle to Augusta"
by George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)


1       My Sister! my sweet Sister! if a name 
2      Dearer and purer were, it should be thine. 
3      Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim 
4      No tears, but tenderness to answer mine: 
5      Go where I will, to me thou art the same--- 
6      A loved regret which I would not resign. 
7      There yet are two things in my destiny,--- 
8   A world to roam through, and a home with thee. 


9      The first were nothing---had I still the last, 
10      It were the haven of my happiness; 
11      But other claims and other ties thou hast, 
12      And mine is not the wish to make them less. 
13      A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past 
14      Recalling, as it lies beyond redress; 
15      Reversed for him our grandsire's fate of yore,--- 
16   He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore. 


17      If my inheritance of storms hath been 
18      In other elements, and on the rocks 
19      Of perils, overlooked or unforeseen, 
20      I have sustained my share of worldly shocks, 
21      The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen 
22      My errors with defensive paradox; 
23      I have been cunning in mine overthrow, 
24   The careful pilot of my proper woe. 


25      Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward. 
26      My whole life was a contest, since the day 
27      That gave me being, gave me that which marred 
28      The gift,---a fate, or will, that walked astray; 
29      And I at times have found the struggle hard, 
30      And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay: 
31      But now I fain would for a time survive, 
32   If but to see what next can well arrive. 


33      Kingdoms and Empires in my little day 
34      I have outlived, and yet I am not old; 
35      And when I look on this, the petty spray 
36      Of my own years of trouble, which have rolled 
37      Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away: 
38      Something---I know not what---does still uphold 
39      A spirit of slight patience;---not in vain, 
40   Even for its own sake, do we purchase Pain. 


41      Perhaps the workings of defiance stir 
42      Within me---or, perhaps, a cold despair 
43      Brought on when ills habitually recur,--- 
44      Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air, 
45      (For even to this may change of soul refer, 
46      And with light armour we may learn to bear,) 
47      Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not 
48   The chief companion of a calmer lot. 


49      I feel almost at times as I have felt 
50      In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks, 
51      Which do remember me of where I dwelt, 
52      Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books, 
53      Come as of yore upon me, and can melt 
54      My heart with recognition of their looks; 
55      And even at moments I could think I see 
56   Some living thing to love---but none like thee. 


57      Here are the Alpine landscapes which create 
58      A fund for contemplation;---to admire 
59      Is a brief feeling of a trivial date; 
60      But something worthier do such scenes inspire: 
61      Here to be lonely is not desolate, 
62      For much I view which I could most desire, 
63      And, above all, a Lake I can behold 
64   Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old. 


65      Oh that thou wert but with me!---but I grow 
66      The fool of my own wishes, and forget 
67      The solitude which I have vaunted so 
68      Has lost its praise in this but one regret; 
69      There may be others which I less may show;--- 
70      I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet 
71      I feel an ebb in my philosophy, 
72   And the tide rising in my altered eye. 


73      I did remind thee of our own dear Lake, 
74      By the old Hall which may be mine no more. 
75       Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake 
76      The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore: 
77      Sad havoc Time must with my memory make, 
78      Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before; 
79      Though, like all things which I have loved, they are 
80   Resigned for ever, or divided far. 


81      The world is all before me; I but ask 
82      Of Nature that with which she will comply--- 
83      It is but in her Summer's sun to bask, 
84      To mingle with the quiet of her sky, 
85      To see her gentle face without a mask, 
86      And never gaze on it with apathy. 
87      She was my early friend, and now shall be 
88   My sister---till I look again on thee. 


89      I can reduce all feelings but this one; 
90      And that I would not;---for at length I see 
91      Such scenes as those wherein my life begun--- 
92      The earliest---even the only paths for me--- 
93      Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun, 
94      I had been better than I now can be; 
95      The Passions which have torn me would have slept; 
96   I had not suffered, and thou hadst not wept. 


97      With false Ambition what had I to do? 
98      Little with Love, and least of all with Fame; 
99      And yet they came unsought, and with me grew, 
100      And made me all which they can make---a Name. 
101      Yet this was not the end I did pursue; 
102      Surely I once beheld a nobler aim. 
103      But all is over---I am one the more 
104   To baffled millions which have gone before. 


105      And for the future, this world's future may 
106      From me demand but little of my care; 
107      I have outlived myself by many a day; 
108      Having survived so many things that were; 
109      My years have been no slumber, but the prey 
110      Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share 
111      Of life which might have filled a century, 
112   Before its fourth in time had passed me by. 


113      And for the remnant which may be to come 
114      I am content; and for the past I feel 
115      Not thankless,---for within the crowded sum 
116      Of struggles, Happiness at times would steal, 
117      And for the present, I would not benumb 
118      My feelings farther.---Nor shall I conceal 
119      That with all this I still can look around, 
120   And worship Nature with a thought profound. 


121      For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart 
122      I know myself secure, as thou in mine; 
123      We were and are---I am, even as thou art--- 
124      Beings who ne'er each other can resign; 
125      It is the same, together or apart, 
126      From Life's commencement to its slow decline 
127      We are entwined---let Death come slow or fast, 
128   The tie which bound the first endures the last!