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Whilome in Albion's isle there dwelt a youth,
But spent his days in riot most uncouth,
Few earthly things found favour in his sight
And flaunting wassailers of high and low degree.
Childe Harold was he hight:-but whence his name And lineage long, it suits me not to say; Suffice it, that perchance they were of fame, And had been glorious in another day : But one sad losel soils a name for aye, However mighty in the olden time; Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay, Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme, Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
Childe Harold bask'd him in the noon-tide sun,
Disporting there like any other fly;
Nor deem'd before his little day was done
He felt the fulness of satiety :
Then loathed he in his native land to dwell,
Which seem'd to him more lone than Eremite's sad cell.
For he through Sin's long labyrinth had run,
And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart,
And visit scorching climes beyond the sea;
With pleasure drugg'd he almost long'd for woe,
And e'en for change of scene would seek the shades below.
The Childe departed from his father's hall :
It was a vast and venerable pile;
So old, it seemed only not to fall,
Yet strength was pillar'd in each massy aisle.
Where Superstition once had made her den
Yet oft-times in his maddest mirthful mood
Strange pangs would flash along Childe Harold's brow,
As if the memory of some deadly feud
Or disappointed passion lurk'd below:
But this none knew, nor haply cared to know;
For his was not that open, artless soul
That feels relief by bidding sorrow flow,
Nor sought he friend to counsel or condole,
Whate'er this grief mote be, which he could not control.
And none did love him-though to hall and bower
He gather'd revellers from far and near,
He knew them flatt'rers of the festal hour;
The heartless parasites of present cheer.
Yea! none did love him-not his lemans dear-
Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare,
And Mammon wins his way where Seraphs might despair.
Childe Harold had a mother-not forgot,
Though parting from that mother he did shun;
A sister whom he loved, but saw her not
Before his weary pilgrimage begun :
If friends he had, he bade adieu to none.
Yet deem not thence his breast a breast of steel;
Ye, who have known what 'tis to dote upon
A few dear objects, will in sadness feel
Such partings break the heart they fondly hope to heal.
His house, his home, his heritage, his lands,
The laughing dames in whom he did delight,
And long had fed his youthful appetite;
Without a sigh he left, to cross the brine,
And traverse Paynim shores, and pass Earth's central line.