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Home|Special Collections Exhibitions|Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’|Greece: Hellenism & heroism|45. Manuscript of ‘On This Day I Complete My Thirty- Sixth Year’, in Byron’s Cephalonia Journal, 1824 

45. Manuscript of ‘On This Day I Complete My Thirty- Sixth Year’, in Byron’s Cephalonia Journal, 1824

NLS Ms.43353, pages 20-21

Byron composed little poetry while in Greece, although his journal of that time contains his poignant reflection on his unrequited love for his 15-year-old pageboy Loukas Chalandritsanos.

January 22d. 1824
Messalonghi
On this day I complete my thirty-sixth year. –

’Tis Time this heart should be unmoved
Since others it hath ceased to move –
Yet, though I cannot be beloved
Still let me love!

My days are in the yellow leaf
The flowers and fruits of love are gone –
The worm – the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!

The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some volcanic isle,
No torch is kindled at its blaze
A funeral pile!

The hope, the fear, the jealous care
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of Love I cannot share,
But wear the chain.

But ’tis not thus – and ‘tis not here
Such thoughts should shake my Soul, nor now
Where Glory decks the hero’s bier
Or binds his Brow.

The Sword, the Banner – and the field ––
Glory and Greece around me see!
The Spartan, borne upon his shield
*Was not more free.

Awake! – (not Greece – She is awake! – )
Awake, my Spirit! Think through whom
Thy Life-blood tracks its’ parent lake,
And then Strike home!

Tread those reviving passions down –
Unworthy Manhood!; unto thee
Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of Beauty be.

If thou regret’st thy youth, why Live?
The Land of honourable Death
Is here; – Up to the Field! And Give
Away thy Breath.

Seek out – less often sought than found,
A Soldier’s Grave – for thee the best,
Then Look around, and choose thy Ground,
And take thy Rest!

*The Slain were borne on their shields witness the Spartan
mother’s speech to her son delivered with his buckler – “either
with this or on this.”

In this exhibition


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