Whether thou sing'st with equal ease, and grief,
The fall of empires, or a yellow leaf;
Whether thy muse most lamentably tells
What merry sounds proceed from Oxford bells,
Or, still in bells delighting, finds a friend
In every chime that jingled from Ostend;
Ah! how much juster were thy Muse's hap,
If to thy bells thou would'st but add a cap!340
Delightful Bowles! still blessing and still blest,
All love thy strain, but children like it best.
'Tis thine, with gentle Little's moral song,
Whether in sighing winds thou seek'st relief
Or Consolation in a yellow leaf.—
[MS. First to Fourth Editions.]
- What pretty sounds.—[British Bards.]
- Thou fain woulds't——.—[British Bards.]
etc., is the subject of part of the third book of The Spirit of Discovery by Sea (1805). Lines "To a Withered Leaf," are, perhaps, of later date; but the "sear tresses" and "shivering leaves" of "Autumn's gradual gloom" are familiar images in his earlier poems. Byron's senior by twenty years, he was destined to outlive him by more than a quarter of a century; but when English Bards., etc., was in progress, he was little more than middle-aged, and the "three score years" must have been written in the spirit of prophecy. As it chanced, the last word rested with him, and it was a generous one. Addressing Moore, in 1824, he says (Childe Harold's Last Pilgrimage)—
"So Harold ends, in Greece, his pilgrimage!
There fitly ending—in that land renown'd,
Whose mighty Genius lives in Glory's page,—
He on the Muses' consecrated ground,
Sinking to rest, while his young brows are bound
With their unfading wreath!"
Among his poems are a "Sonnet to Oxford," and "Stanzas on hearing the Bells of Ostend."]