O thou unknown disturber of my rest,
Ceaseless intruder, life-consuming foe;
Proud o'er my fall, and in my sorrow, blest,
Destroyer of a love thou ne'er canst know—
And life with love—O leave me—spare me now—
On that blessed moment while I fondly dwell,
When kind some pitying Genii heard my vow
And as my trembling fingers touched the spell,
Propitious to my wish bestowed the skill
That gave, —O more than wealth, or fame could give;
My Henry gave, by Fate's resistless will,
And snatched from death and made it bliss to live,
To live for him, and at Love's sanctioned shrine
Pledge my devoted heart, and clasp that treasure mine.
O timeless guest!—so soon returned art thou,
Hope's sickly gleam with cruel haste to quench,
To mock the prayer, and scorn the trembling vow,
I feel thy fatal power and vainly bid thee hence.—
Still, still thou com'st in dreadful guise to me,
Howe'er to others fair thy form appear;
Not shapeless things with midnight witchery
Could so appall my soul—so chill my breast, with fear!
—Now fateful is thy look!—thou lead'st me, —where?
O well, thou lead'st me to my destined place,
And bid'st me close my eyes for ever there.
Nor view thee wrapped in Henry's dear embrace:
Yes—proud one, haste thee to the nuptial shrine,
I sleep in death's cold arms—ere Henry sleep in thine.
The publication of the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812),
a reflective travelogue in Spenserian stanzas, made Lord Byron an overnight
sensation. His divorce and scandalous liaisons forced his exile from England
in 1816. On the continent, he wrote many of his most famous works, in-
cluding the verse drama Manfred (1817) and the mock epic Don Juan (1819-
24). Byron wrote few sonnets and despised Petrarch, of whom he writes in
Don Juan 3.8, “Think you, if Laura had been Petrarch's wife, / He would have
written sonnets all his life?”