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George Gordon Byron

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TO IANTHE.   [1]

 Not in those climes where I have late been straying,
 Though Beauty long hath there been matchless deemed,
 Not in those visions to the heart displaying
 Forms which it sighs but to have only dreamed,
 Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seemed:
 Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek
 To paint those charms which varied as they beamed—
 To such as see thee not my words were weak;
 To those who gaze on thee, what language could they speak?
 Ah! mayst thou ever be what now thou art,
 Nor unbeseem the promise of thy spring,
 As fair in form, as warm yet pure in heart,
 Love's image upon earth without his wing,
 And guileless beyond Hope's imagining!
 And surely she who now so fondly rears
 Thy youth, in thee, thus hourly brightening,
 Beholds the rainbow of her future years,
 Before whose heavenly hues all sorrow disappears.
 Young Peri of the West!—'tis well for me
 My years already doubly number thine;
 My loveless eye unmoved may gaze on thee,
 And safely view thy ripening beauties shine:
 Happy, I ne'er shall see them in decline;
 Happier, that while all younger hearts shall bleed
 Mine shall escape the doom thine eyes assign
 To those whose admiration shall succeed,
 But mixed with pangs to Love's even loveliest hours decreed.
 Oh! let that eye, which, wild as the gazelle's,
 Now brightly bold or beautifully shy,
 Wins as it wanders, dazzles where it dwells,
 Glance o'er this page, nor to my verse deny
 That smile for which my breast might vainly sigh,
 Could I to thee be ever more than friend:
 This much, dear maid, accord; nor question why
 To one so young my strain I would commend,
 But bid me with my wreath one matchless lily blend.
 Such is thy name with this my verse entwined;
 And long as kinder eyes a look shall cast
 On Harold's page, Ianthe's here enshrined
 Shall thus be first beheld, forgotten last:
 My days once numbered, should this homage past
 Attract thy fairy fingers near the lyre
 Of him who hailed thee, loveliest as thou wast,
 Such is the most my memory may desire;
 Though more than Hope can claim, could Friendship less require?

[1] Lady Charlotte Harley, daughter of the Earl of Oxford.

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