Nglish Literature/critical Analysis of Lord Byrons The Corsair

The tendence to portray women as binay opposites suggests amisogynistic perception of the inadequacy of female character.Discuss this statement in relation to Lord byrons The Corsair
Show how the literary form and technique contribute to the construction of meanings.Bring out areas of conflict and complexity.Aim for debth rather than breath of coverage.

Lord Byron
1788-1824

The Corsair
CANTO THE FIRST

–nessun maggior dolore,
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nelle miseria, –DANTE.

I

OER the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
Survey our empire, and behold our home!
These are our realms, no limits to their sway
Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.
Ours the wild life in tumult still to range
From toil to rest, and joy in every change.
Oh, who can tell? not thou, luxurious slave!
Whose soul would sicken oer the heaving wave;
Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease!
whom slumber soothes not pleasure cannot please
Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
And danced in triumph oer the waters wide,
The exulting sense the pulses maddening play,
That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way?
That for itself can woo the approaching fight,
And turn what some deem danger to delight;
That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal,
And where the feebler faint can only feel
Feel to the rising bosoms inmost core,
Its hope awaken and Its spirit soar?
No dread of death if with us die our foes
Save that it seems even duller than repose:
Come when it will we snatch the life of life
When lost what recks it but disease or strife?
Let him who crawls enamourd of decay,
Cling to his couch, and sicken years away:
Heave his thick breath, and shake his palsied head;
Ours the fresh turf; and not the feverish bed.
While gasp by gasp he falters forth his soul,
Ours with one pang one bound escapes control.
His corse may boast its urn and narrow cave,
And they who loathd his life may gild his grave:
Ours are the tears, though few, sincerely shed,
When Ocean shrouds and sepulchres our dead.
For us, even banquets fond regret supply
In the red cup that crowns our memory;
And the brief epitaph in dangers day,
When those who win at length divide the prey,
And cry, Remembrance saddening oer each brow,
How had the brave who fell exulted now!

II

Such were the notes that from the Pirates isle
Around the kindling watch-fire rang the while:
Such were the sounds that thrilld the rocks along,
And unto ears as rugged seemd a song!
In scatterd groups upon the golden sand,
They game-carouse-converse-or whet the brand:
Select the arms-to each his blade assign,
And careless eye the blood that dims its shine.
Repair the boat, replace the helm or oar,
While others straggling muse along the shore:
For the wild bird the busy springes set,
Or spread beneath the sun the dripping net:
Gaze where some distant sail a speck supplies
With all the thirsting eve of Enterprise:
Tell oer the tales of many a night of toil,
And marvel where they next shall seize a spoil:
No matter where-their chiefs allotment this;
Theirs, to believe no prey nor plan amiss.
But who that CHIEF? his name on every shore
Is famed and feard they ask and know no more.
With these he mingles not but to command;
Few are his words, but keen his eye and hand.
Neer seasons he with mirth their jovial mess
But they forgive his silence for success.
Neer for his lip the purpling cup they fill,
That goblet passes him untasted still
And for his fare the rudest of his crew
Would that, in turn, have passd untasted too;
Earths coarsest bread, the gardens homeliest roots,
And scarce the summer luxury of fruits,
His short repast in humbleness supply
With all a hermits board would scarce deny.
But while he shuns the grosser joys of sense,
His mind seems nourishd by that abstinence.
Steer to that shore! they sail. Do this! tis done:
Now form and follow me! the spoil is won.
Thus prompt his accents and his actions still,
And all obey and few inquire his will;
So To such, brief answer and contemptuous eye
Convey reproof, nor further deign reply.

III

A sail! sail! -a promised prize to Hope!
Her nation flag how speaks the telescope?
No prize, alas! but yet a welcome sail:
The blood-red signal glitters in the gale.
Yes she is ours a home returning bark
Blow fair thou breeze! she anchors ere the dark.
Already doubled is the cape our bay
Receives that prow which proudly spurns the spray.
How gloriously her gallant course she goes!
Her white wings flying never from her foes
She walks the waters like a thing of life,
And seems to dare the elements to strife.
Who would not brave the battle-fire, the wreck,
To move the monarch of her peopled deck?

IV

Hoarse oer her side the rustling cable rings;
The sails are furld; and anchoring round she swings;
And gathering loiterers on the land discern
Her boat descending from the latticed stem.
Tis mannd-the oars keep concert to the strand,
Till grates her keel upon the shallow sand.
Hail to the welcome shout! the friendly speech!
When hand grasps hand uniting on the beach;
The smile, the question, and the quick reply,
And the hearts promise of festivity!

V

The tidings spread, and gathering grows the crowd;
The hum of voices, and the laughter loud,
And womans gentler anxious tone is heard
Friends, husbands, lovers names in each dear word:
Oh! are they safe? we ask not of success
But shall we see them? will their accents bless?
From where the battle roars, the billows chafe
They doubtless boldly did but who are safe?
Here let them haste to gladden and surprise,
And kiss the doubt from these delighted eyes!

VI

Where is our chief? for him we bear report
And doubt that joy which hails our coming short;
Yet thus sincere, tis cheering, though so brief;
But, Juan! instant guide us to our chief:
Our greeting paid, well feast on our return,
And all shall hear what each may wish to learn.
Ascending slowly by the rock-hewn way,
To where his watch-tower beetles oer the bay,
By bushy brake, and wild flowers blossoming,
And freshness breathing from each silver spring,
Whose scatterd streams from granite basins burst,
Leap into life, and sparkling woo your thirst;
From crag to cliff they mount Near yonder cave,
What lonely straggler looks along the wave?
In pensive posture leaning on the brand,
Not oft a resting-staff to that red hand?
Tis he tis Conrad here, as wont, alone;
On Juan! on and make our purpose known.
The bark he views and tell him we would greet
His ear with tidings he must quickly meet:
We dare not yet approach-thou knowst his mood
When strange or uninvited steps intrude.

VII

Him Juan sought, and told of their intent;
He spake not, but a sign expressd assent.
These Juan calls they come to their salute
He bends him slightly, but his lips are mute.
These letters, Chief, are from the Greek the spy,
Who still proclaims our spoil or peril nigh:
Whateer his tidings, we can well report,
Much that Peace, peace! he cuts their prating short.
Wondering they turn, abashd, while each to each
Conjecture whispers in his muttering speech:
They watch his glance with many a stealing look
To gather how that eye the tidings took;
But, this as if he guessd, with head aside,
Perchance from some emotion, doubt, or pride,
He read the scroll My tablets, Juan hark
Where is Gonsalvo?
In the anchord bark
There let him stay to him this order bear
Back to your duty for my course prepare:
Myself this enterprise to-night will share.

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