Lord Byron: To Mary, On Receiving Her Picture

This faint resemblance of thy charms,
(Though strong as mortal art could give,)
My constant heart of fear disarms,
Revives my hopes, and bids me live.

Here, I can trace the locks of gold
Which round thy snowy forehead wave;
The cheeks which sprung from Beauty’s mould,
The lips, which made me Beauty’s slave.

Here I can trace—ah, no! that eye,
Whose azure floats in liquid fire,
Must all the painter’s art defy,
And bid him from the task retire.

Here, I behold its beauteous hue;
But where’s the beam so sweetly straying,
Which gave a lustre to its blue,
Like Luna o’er the ocean playing?

Sweet copy! far more dear to me,
Lifeless, unfeeling as thou art,
Than all the living forms could be,
Save her who plac’d thee next my heart.

She plac’d it, sad, with needless fear,
Lest time might shake my wavering soul,
Unconscious that her image there
Held every sense in fast control.

Thro’ hours, thro’ years, thro’ time, ’twill cheer—
My hope, in gloomy moments, raise;
In life’s last conflict ’twill appear,
And meet my fond, expiring gaze.

Lord Byron, 1788-1824: To Mary, On Receiving Her Picture

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Author: jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space - creator of art projects - writer on art

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