Byron's Broad Street Boyhood
No trace of Byron’s boyhood home,
Yet these surrounds he would have known;
Here in Broad Street Aberdeen,
Because his father libertine –
Had made his heiress mother’s cash
Disappear in a flash!
But as her kin for her retained
A portion, they the journey made
To Aberdeen, as a retreat,
First in Queen’s then in Broad Street,
Living there in straitened times,
Despite her noble Gordon line.
And then his Dad to see her came –
But really just to money claim;
Their quarrels leaving him bereft,
And then his Dad forever left.
The Greyfriars church he would have seen,
In Back Wynd’s passageway have been;
And here he teased his Mum and guests
By throwing out a pillow dressed
In his own clothes from window high
While uttering a piercing cry!
What a shock they must have had!
What relief to see the lad!
‘Dinna speak of it!’ he’d cried
With little whip he then let fly
At tactless nurse who had exclaimed:
‘So sad this pretty boy is lame’.
And then a mile across the town
He found his way, with schoolboy frown,
To the school where he began
That learning which the classics spanned.
He’d read of the exotic East,
On tales Arabian he’d feast;
The Old Testament preferred to New,
But poems all he would eschew.
A helper young by name May Gray
Would ‘tricks upon his person’ play,
And yet a pious girl was she,
A first taste of hypocrisy.
In fact in later life he’d say
This early knowledge spoiled his way,
With those pleasures known too young
His chances of true love undone.
Then one day when he was ten
His childhood would mutate again:
To headmaster’s study he was called
And told ‘Son, now you are a Lord!’
And given cake and claret fine –
His status by that gift defined;
Though he would find the tears sprang
At assembly, when his title rang
Round the room, all turned to see
The new Lord Byron – there revealed!
And so to new life he was called
Beyond that academic hall.
But took with him the memories
Of Scotland’s beauty, wild, serene;
Recalled from Pisa's study room,
Where his remembrances would bloom
In that palazzo there immersed,
Recalling Scotland’s soul in verse.
A late recall before he’d part,
The call of Greece a burning spark,
That would grow into a flame,
That burned all his old life away:
From women, poet’s fame enticed
For Missolonghi’s sacrifice.
O ye in Broad Street Aberdeen,
Think of him who here has been!
'Half a Scot by birth'
(Byron verses remembering Scotland in song)
The complete rundown!
Byron’s Poems about Scotland
edited by Peter Cochran