1813 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

[A Lady of Boston,] "On Seeing a Picture of Newstead Park, belonging to a Seat late of the Property of the Right Honourable Lord Byron, 1813" Analectic Magazine [Philadelphia] NS 4 (August 1814) 166-69.



From scenes like these, that far and wide,
Rise and expand in sylvan pride,
Where fickle man might find in range
From hill to vale, congenial change;
From scenes whose very hues impart
Good and gay cheerfulness of heart,
Could e'er their reckless owner roam,
With guilt and gloom to find a home?
To wander, like the exil'd ghost,
From heavenly fields forever lost,
Doom'd, with Elysium yet in view,
His wayward rovings to pursue,
Where tosses doubt's tumultuous sea
Thy shatter'd wreck, depravity!

Degenerate Gordon! not like thee
Have prov'd thy nobler ancestry,
Nor rambling taste, nor thirst of gain,
From them had wrung their lov'd domain,
Naught lur'd them from their native hall,
But fatal honour's sternest call.
Their only signal to depart,
The beating of a loyal heart;
That, when Culloden's crimson'd bed
Heav'd with the dying and the dead,
Follow'd its guiding beams afar,
Till set in blood the STUART STAR:
While heaven and earth combin'd to sign
The ruin of that royal line!

Son of the Muse — celestial guide!
Wont to inspire far purer pride—
Son of the Muse, had gold the power
To win from thee thy classic bower,
Of Byron should it e'er be told,
His birthright barter'd was — for gold!

Alas! for thou hast sold yet more
Than fragile dome, or earth-born store;
And Virtue mourns, in early day,
A brighter birthright cast away:
What time delirious passion's howl,
Dissolv'd thy priceless pearl, the soul!
O crown'd by heav'n with youth and health,
And mental hoards, and worldly wealth,
Vain the best patrimony's aid;—
Thy debt on high has ne'er been paid.
Thy means, perverted from the aim
That had discharg'd the loftiest claim,
Guilt's lawless traffick lost for thee
The treasures of futurity!
Yet might it be — thyself — thy song
Are causelessly accus'd of wrong;
That tell-tale Fame, though still believ'd,
Has still as constantly deceiv'd;
And thy free soul, unleagued with ill,
Retains its guardian Angel still,
Who, when temptation's friends assail'd,
Has wrestled for thee, and prevailed:—
If so — the burning blush suffuse,
The bitterest tear bedim the Muse;
To find it false, were cause to rue,
Unequall'd, save — to find it true!

Yet must the mind misgive thy lot,
That lingers on this pictur'd spot;
Gazes its many beauties o'er,
And still retains to number more.
Musing what bliss 'twere here to find
A solace for the wearied mind.
When, long sustain'd the various parts
Of public trust, in arms or arts,
Blessing and blest, how fitly here
Might pause from toil a British Peer!
Be welcom'd by the well-known shade,
Where many a truant prank he play'd;
And taste the fruit and pluck the flower,
Creations of his earlier hour.

From courts and camps, in groves like those,
Thy hero, Blenheim! found repose.
To breathe the calm that such inspire,
Would awful Chatham's self retire.
And sacred ever to the shade,
Where, matchless Burke! thy form was laid,
When, pond'ring all thy country's woes,
The genius of Prescience rose,
And spread with visions to thy sight,
As check'd the spirit's hastening flight,
And stopp'd of age the coming night;
Bidding, as erst in Ajalon,
The mental sun not yet go down!

Beside that bright and tranquil stream
How pleasant to recline and dream!
Listening the while its gentle sound
Not even fairy ear might wound,
Nor passing Zephyr dare molest
The sacred quiet of its breast,
In gay transparency complete,
Yet mild as bright — O emblem meet!
The very heaven assign'd the just,
The haunt of beatific trust,
Where no defilement enters e'er,
Seems scarce more fair, more calm, more clear.
Byron! from this and could'st thou pass?
Perchance because its faithful glass
To thy inquiring glance has shown
Features, the contrast of its own.
For other images might find
Access to that distemper'd mind.
The dark wave lashing 'gainst the shore,
The wild cascade's eternal roar,
What scorns, or what maintains control,
Suits the stern habit of thy soul.

Where opes yon vista to disclose
Deep blushing how th' horizon glows,
'Twere sweet to watch the sun descend,
Like patriarch or like patriot's end,
The radiance of whose parting light
Gleams far athwart the grave's long night,
And glances to that distant shore,
Where suns arise, to set no more.

Or where that hill's serener brow
O'erlooks the bustling world below,
Wait till that glorious orb arise,
And ride along the nether skies.
A warrior, awful to assail,
With fiery lance and golden mail;
Who, while his own impassive form
Derides of earth and heaven the storm,
Has ireful shafts so swift, so sure,
That mortal strength can ne'er endure;
When that, in vengeance like a God,
O'er scorching realms he proudly trod,
But oftener when he glads the view,
Like as a God in bounty too,
Pouring his flood of light and light,
O'er teeming plains and mountains bright;
Painting each flower with colours gay;
Darting the diamond's sparkling ray;
And making earth her stores unfold
Of ruddy fruit and waving gold.
The holiest heart was e'er bestow'd,
Might hail him on his heavenly road,
And pardon that the pagan knee
Had bent in fond idolatry.

Sweet scene, farewell! Although these eyes
Behold thee but through mimic dies;
Though ne'er my step may wander o'er
To ancient Albion's distant shore;
Yet for this semblance shall my heart
Long bless the imitative art.

But thou whose meed it was to know
The substance of this shadowy show,
At will to visit such a shrine,
With the high consciousness — 'twas thine;
Could'st thou — whate'er the Syren call—
From such an Eden fly — self driven?
Its social bower, its festive ball,
Its lawns, its waters, its all!—
"O how could'st thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven."