By Xinhua Writer Bai Xu
NOTTINGHAM, Britain, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- "Adieu, adieu! My native shore, fades o'er the waters blue...But I, who am of lighter mood, will laugh to flee away."
When George Gordon Byron bid farewell to his homeland at the age of 28, it might not occur to him that he didn't had the chance to return in lifetime.
Today, 188 years after the poet's death, his residence in Nottingham, the Newstead Abbey, remained still as tranquil as it was when he lived in, where swans gliding gracefully on the lake and a few visitors roaming around.
Franklin Charles Bishop was one of the tour guides in the abbey, which only opens to tourists on Sunday afternoons.
"The poet Byron is the sixth lord, who lived here for six years," he said.
Although born an aristocrat, Byron didn't enjoy a happy childhood due to his father's elopement and his mother's bad temper. When he inherited the abbey as a young boy, it was largely derelict.
Byron's bedroom was on the second floor, a small room with a big window facing the lake. The bed, with its canopy featuring Chinese gardens, was "the same one the poet used in the Trinity College in Cambridge," said the tour guide.
Interestingly, the bed seemed short than those people use nowadays, as in Byron's time, they slept upright, rather than flat, for fear of death in sleep and devils who might take a person's soul if he thought him dead flat.
Apart from this, Byron has more to worry. "He couldn't sleep without a pistol within reach," said Bishop.
It was said that in this very bed, he had night terror and saw a monk coming to him with a Macbethic prophecy. "The monk told him that his marriage could be a disaster, and he would suffer ill fate if he opposed Monarchy."
This, if not a mere fabricated story, was later proved true by Byron's destiny.
"Byron was limp and couldn't dance, so he did something else in compensation," Bishop said. There were gloves, a pistol and a mask, from which one could see that the poet at the same time was a fan of boxing, pistol shooting and fencing.
A portrait of Byron's mother was on the left side of the room. "Byron has a phobia and swore not to grow as fat as his mom," the tour guide said. As a result, he ate only mashed potato with vinegar and soda water.
A bust and another portrait told people Byron's notorious romance.
The bust was Lady Caroline, who attempted suicide after breaking up with Byron. She once described the poet in a novel that Byron's eyes were like "those of a snake about to strike", and he had no compassion in his voice.
The woman on the portrait was Claire Clairmont. She had an illegitimate daughter with Byron, who died at the age of five. Byron didn't let the poor mother see the girl after she was only one. Clairmont, who lived to 71, detested the thought of Byron in the rest of her life.
Although Byron was always criticized for his promiscuity, his talent was indisputable.
In a Gothic study with blue curtains, he finished the satirical English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.
Bishop was so familiar with Byron after days of work, even some of his strange habits. He liked to show visitors a cup made from a skull from which Byron drank water, and some boxing-playing figures he cut off from newspapers out of love in the sport.
Diane Turner has been working in the abbey for four years. To her, Byron was a man with creativity. A cubicle in the slype was used as resting place for dead monks, which the poet converted into a swimming room. Some rooms were too big to be furnished with a small amount of money, which Byron used to keep a bear and practice shooting, Turner said.
Lionel Howard, already 75, lived nearby and has visited the abbey for as many as 50 times.
"But I am still feel amazed as how it was preserved," he said.
In Howard's view, Byron was a cruel man. "He was cruel to his wife and he was a womanizer," he said.
However, Howard felt happy and proud to have someone famous in his hometown. This was shared by Turner.
Each Sunday, Newstead Abbey receives about 100 to 150 visitors. "Among them were his direct descendants and descendants from his servants' families," she recalled.
"It was fantastic to work here and follow his footsteps," said the lady. She didn't believe Byron bad at all. "At his time, most of the aristocrats did the same," she said. "Byron was great in his dedication when fighting for Greece."
Such controversy might have been predicted by the poet already, and he said, "here's a sigh to those who love me, and a smile to those who hate; and, whatever sky's above me, here's a heart for every fate."