1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Hugh Brown, "Lines to the Memory of Lord Byron" Edinburgh Magazine NS 17 (November 1825) 565-66.



MR. EDITOR,
The inclosed lines were composed when the mania was raging for composition about the noble poet to whose memory they are dedicated. They were thrown in a corner (perhaps it would have been better they had never been drawn from it), and casting my eyes t'other day upon them, the very noble thought struck me of sending them to the Editor of the Edinburgh Magazine, that he might judge whether they are worthy of a place in that Miscellany, or only fit to

Rouse a dead man into rage,
And warm with red resentment the wan cheek.

If, Sir, it be any apology for these verses to say that I am illiterate, I acknowledge that I am so, though the piece itself would tell you this, as I have heard or seen somewhere, "in language more expressive than words." If you think it worthy of a place, I shall be very happy should you insert it; if not, there is, Mr. Editor, a receptacle near you, through which it can be conveyed to the dead stream of Lethe. Throw it there in silence, for I think it is at least worthy to be forgotten.
Yours, &c.
HUGH BROWN.
Newmilns, Nov. 1825.


The harp of the minstrel is hung in the hall,
And his fleeting existence is o'er;
And still are its strings, as it sleeps on the wall,
Like the fingers that swept it before.
His eye, once so bright, has been robb'd of its fire;
His bosom, once wild as the wave,
Which the shrill note of Liberty's trump could inspire,
Or the heart-thrilling tones of the well-swept lyre,
Is silent and still as the grave.

"He had evil within him" — we see the dark shade
When his bosom's deep secrets we scan;
Yet his arm was still lifted the freeman to aid,
And his deeds shed a lustre on man.
If the dark cloud of hate o'er his bosom did low'r,
If he wish'd to the desert to flee,
He was only the foe of the minion of pow'r,
Who, fiend-like, stalks over the earth for an hour,
But was ever the friend of the free.

The soft scenes of Nature for him had no charms,
The riv'let and fast-fading flow'r
Awak'd not his soul like the horrid alarms
When a nation is wreck'd in an hour.
In the dark sweeping storm by Omnipotence driv'n,
In the flash and the long pealing roll,
In the rocking of earth, in the frowning of heav'n,
When the pillars of Nature seem trembling and riv'n,
'Twas a beam of delight to his soul.

As he wander'd (oh, Greece!) o'er thy once-hallow'd ground,
And stood on the warrior's grave,
He heard but the voice of oppression around,
And saw but the home of the slave,—
As he gaz'd through the vistas of ages gone by,
In the glory and pride of the world,—
As he gaz'd on the ruins that round him did lie,
It drew from his bosom a sorrowful sigh,
Where Tyranny's flag was unfurl'd.

He tun'd his wild harp o'er the ruins of Greece,
His strains were impassion'd and strong,
They solac'd his heart like a seraph of Peace,
While her freedom arose with his song.
And when the bright sun of their freedom arose,
His heart full of rapture ador'd,
The morning had dawn'd on their fatal repose,
Their slumbers were broken, they rush'd on their foes,
To shiver the chains they abhorr'd.

Did he fall in the struggle when Greece would be free?
'Twas a star blotted out on their shore,
But his hovering spirit yet triumphs with thee,
Though his brave arm can aide thee no more.
He expired as the torch of thy glory grew bright,
In the glorious noon of his day;
His triumph was short, like the meteor of night,
As it flashes o'er heav'n with its long train of light—
For, like it, he vanish'd away.

You have seen the bright summer's sun sink in the west,
And the glories that shrouded him there,
Like the splendours that dwell on the heav'n of the blest,
Immortal, unclouded, and fair.
So the halo of glory shall circle his name,
His wreath shall eternally bloom,
And Britain, triumphant, her Byron shall claim,
As he shines with the great in the temple of Fame,
The triumph of man o'er the tomb!