The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/On Leaving Newstead Abbey

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The Works of Lord Byron by George Gordon Byron
On Leaving Newstead Abbey

HOURS OF IDLENESS


AND OTHER EARLY POEMS.

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ON LEAVING NEWSTEAD ABBEY.[1]


Why dost thou build the hall, Son of the winged days? Thou lookest from thy tower to-day: yet a few years, and the blast of the desart comes: it howls in thy empty court.—Ossian.[2]


1.

Through thy battlements, Newstead,[3] the hollow winds whistle:[4]
 Thou, the hall of my Fathers, art gone to decay;
In thy once smiling garden, the hemlock and thistle
 Have choak'd up the rose, which late bloom'd in the way.


2.

Of the mail-cover'd Barons, who, proudly, to battle,[5]
 Led their vassals from Europe to Palestine's plain,[6]
The escutcheon and shield, which with ev'ry blast rattle,
 Are the only sad vestiges now that remain.


3.

No more doth old Robert, with harp-stringing numbers,
 Raise a flame, in the breast, for the war-laurell'd wreath;
Near Askalon's towers, John of Horistan[7] slumbers,
 Unnerv'd is the hand of his minstrel, by death.


4.

Paul and Hubert too sleep in the valley of Cressy;
 For the safety of Edward and England they fell:
My Fathers! the tears of your country redress ye:
 How you fought! how you died! still her annals can tell.


5.

On Marston,[8] with Rupert,[9] 'gainst traitors contending,
 Four brothers enrich'd, with their blood, the bleak field;
For the rights of a monarch their country defending,[10]
 Till death their attachment to royalty seal'd.[11]


6.

Shades of heroes, farewell! your descendant departing
 From the seat of his ancestors, bids you adieu![12]
Abroad, or at home, your remembrance imparting
 New courage, he'll think upon glory and you.


7.

Though a tear dim his eye at this sad separation,[13]
 'Tis nature, not fear, that excites his regret;[14]
Far distant he goes, with the same emulation,
 The fame of his Fathers he ne'er can forget.[15]


8.

That fame, and that memory, still will he cherish;[16]
 He vows that he ne'er will disgrace your renown:
Like you will he live, or like you will he perish;
 When decay'd, may he mingle his dust with your own!

1803.


  1. On Leaving N . . . ST . . . D.—[4to]
    On Leaving Newstead.—[P. on V. Occasions.]
  2. [The motto was prefixed in Hours of Idleness.]
  3. [The priory of Newstead, or de Novo Loco, in Sherwood, was founded about the year 1170, by Henry II. On the dissolution of the monasteries it was granted (in 1540) by Henry VIII. to "Sir John Byron the Little, with the great beard." His portrait is still preserved at Newstead.]
  4. Through the cracks in these battlements loud the winds whistle
     For the hall of my fathers is gone to decay;
    And in yon once gay garden the hemlock and thistle
     Have choak'd up the rose, which late bloom'd in the way.—[4to]

  5. Of the barons of old, who once proudly to battle.—[4to]
  6. [No record of any crusading ancestors in the Byron family can be found. Moore conjectures that the legend was suggested by some groups of heads on the old panelwork at Newstead, which appear to represent Christian soldiers and Saracens, and were, most probably, put up before the Abbey came into the possession of the family.]
  7. Horistan Castle, in Derbyshire, an ancient seat of the B—R—N family [4to]. [Horiston.—4to.]
  8. The battle of Marston Moor, where the adherents of Charles I. were defeated.
  9. Son of the Elector Palatine, and related to Charles I. He afterwards commanded the Fleet, in the reign of Charles II.
  10. For Charles the Martyr their country defending.—[4to. P. on V. Occasions.]
  11. [Sir Nicholas Byron, the great-grandson of Sir John Byron the Little, distinguished himself in the Civil Wars. He is described by Clarendon (Hist. of the Rebellion, 1807, i. 216) as "a person of great affability and dexterity, as well as martial knowledge." He was Governor of Carlisle, and afterwards Governor of Chester. His nephew and heir-at-law, Sir John Byron, of Clayton, K.B. (1599-1652), was raised to the peerage as Baron Byron of Rochdale, after the Battle of Newbury, October 26, 1643. He held successively the posts of Lieutenant of the Tower, Governor of Chester, and, after the expulsion of the Royal Family from England, Governor to the Duke of York. He died childless, and was succeeded by his brother Richard, the second lord, from whom the poet was descended. Five younger brothers, as Richard's monument in the chancel of Hucknall Torkard Church records, "faithfully served King Charles the First in the Civil Wars, suffered much for their loyalty, and lost all their present fortunes." (See Life of Lord Byron, by Karl Elze: Appendix, Note (A), p. 436.)]
  12. Bids ye adieu!—[4to]
  13. Though a tear dims.—[4to]
  14. 'Tis nature, not fear, which commands his regret.—[4to]
  15. In the grave he alone can his fathers forget.—[4to]
  16. Your fame, and your memory, still will he cherish.—[4to]