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Elegy On Newstead Abbey

George Gordon Lord Byron 1788 (London) – 1824 (Missolonghi, Aetolia)



'It is the voice of years that are gone!
they roll before me with all their deeds.'~OSSIAN

Newstead! fast-falling, once-resplendent dome!
Religion's shrine! repentant HENRY's pride!
Of warriors, monks, and dames the cloister'd tomb,
Whose pensive shades around thy ruins glide,
Hail to thy pile! more honour'd in thy fall
Than modern mansions in their pillar'd state;
Proudly majestic frowns thy vaulted hall,
Scowling defiance on the blasts of fate.

No mail-clad serfs, obedient to their lord,
In grim array the crimson cross demand;
Or gay assemble round the festive board
Their chief's retainers, an immortal band:

Else might inspiting Fancy's magic eye
Retrace their progress through the lapse of time,
Marking each ardent youth, ordaln'd to die,
A votive pilgrim in Judea's clime.

But not from thee, dark pile! departs the chief;
His feudal realm in other regions lay:
In thee the wounded conscience courts relief,
Retiring from the garish blare of day.

Yes! in thy gloomy cells and shades profound
The monk abjured a world he ne'er could view;
Or blood-stain'd guilt repenting solace found,
Or innocence from stern oppression flew.

A monarch bade thee from that wild arise,
Where Sherwood's outlaws once were wont to prowl;
And Superstition's crimes, of various dyes,
Sought shelter in the priest's protecting cowl.

Where now the grass exhales a murky dew,
The humid pail of life-extinguish'd clay,
In sainted fame the sacred fathers grew,
Nor raised their pious voices but to pray.

Where now the bats their wavering wings extend
Soon as the gloaming spreads her waning shade,
The choir did oft their mingling vespers blend,
Or matin orisons to Mary pald.

Years roll on years; to ages, ages yield;
Abbots to abbots, in a line, succeed;
Religion's charter their protecting shield,
Till royal sacrilege their doom decreed,
One holy HENRY rear'd the Gothic walls,
And bade the pious inmates rest in peace
Another HENRY the kind gift recalls,
And bids devotion's hallow'd echos cease.

Vain is each threat or supplicating prayer;
He drives them exiles from their blest abode,
To roam a dreary world in deep despair
No friend, no home, no refuge, but their God.

Hark how the hall, resounding to the strain
Shakes with the martial music's novel din!
The heralds of a warrior's haughty reign,
High crested banners wave thy wails within.

Of changing sentinels the distant hum,
The mirth of feasts, the clang of burnish'd arms,
The braying trumpet and the hoarser drum,
Unite in concert with increased alarms.

An abbey once, a regal fortress now,
Encircled by insulting rebel powers,
War's dread machines o'erhang thy threat'ning brow,
And dart destruction in sulphureous showers.

Ah vain defence! the hostile traitor's siege,
Though oft repulsed, by guile o'er-comes the brave;
His thronging foes oppress the faithful liege,
Rebellion's reeking standards o'er him wave.

Not unavenged the raging baron yields;
The blood of traitors smears the purple plain
Unconqu'r'd still, his falchion there he wields,
And days of glory yet for him remain.

Still in that hour the warrior wish'd to strew
Self-gather'd laurel on a self-sought grave;
But Charles' protecting genius hither flew,
The monarch's friend, the monarch's hope, to save.

Trembling, she snatch'd him ftom th' unequal strife,
In other fields the torrent to repel;
For nobler combats, here reservedhis life,
To lead the hand where godlike FALKLAND fell
From thee, poor pile! to lawless plunder given,
While dying groans their painful requiem sound,
Far different incense now ascends to heaven,
Such victims wallow on the gory ground.

There many a pale and ruthless robber's corse,
Noisome and ghast, defiles thy sacred sod;
O'er mingling man, and horse commix'd with horse,
Corruption's heap, the savage spoilers trod.

Graves, long with rank and sighing weeds o'erspread,
Ransack'd, resign perforce their mortal mould:
From ruffian fangs escape not e'en the dead,
Raked from repose in search of buried gold.

Hush'd is the harp, unstrung the warlike lyre'
The minstrel's palsied hand reclines in death;
No more he strikes the quivering chords with fire,
Or sings the glories of the martial wreath.

At length the sated murderers, gorged with prey,
Retire: the clamour of the fight is o'er;
Silence again resumes her awful sway,
And sable Horror guards the massy door.

Here Desolation holds her drear
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:46 min read
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George Gordon Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet, peer and politician who became a revolutionary in the Greek War of Independence, and is considered one of the leading figures of the Romantic movement. He is regarded as one of the greatest English poets and remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; many of his shorter lyrics in Hebrew Melodies also became popular. He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for seven years in the cities of Venice, Ravenna, and Pisa. During his stay in Italy he frequently visited his friend and fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Later in life Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire and died of disease leading a campaign during that war, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died in 1824 at the age of 36 from a fever contracted after the First and Second Siege of Missolonghi. His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is regarded as a foundational figure in the field of computer programming based on her notes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Byron's illegitimate children include Allegra Byron, who died in childhood, and possibly Elizabeth Medora Leigh.  more…

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