He created an immensely popular Romantic hero—defiant, melancholy, haunted by secret guilt—for which, to many, he seemed the model. His faceted personality found expression in satire, verse narrative, ode, lyric, speculative drama, historical tragedy, confessional poetry, dramatic monologue, seriocomic epic, and voluminous correspondence, written in Spenserian stanzas , heroic couplets , blank verse , terza rima , ottava rima , and vigorous prose. In his dynamism, sexuality, self-revelation, and demands for freedom for oppressed people everywhere, Byron captivated the Western mind and heart as few writers have, stamping upon 19th-century letters, arts, politics, even clothing styles, his image and name as the embodiment of Romanticism. Emotionally unstable, Catherine Byron raised her son in an atmosphere variously colored by her excessive tenderness, fierce temper, insensitivity, and pride.
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He created an immensely popular Romantic hero—defiant, melancholy, haunted by secret guilt—for which, to many, he seemed the model. His faceted personality found expression in satire, verse narrative, ode, lyric, speculative drama, historical tragedy, confessional poetry, dramatic monologue, seriocomic epic, and voluminous correspondence, written in Spenserian stanzas , heroic couplets , blank verse , terza rima , ottava rima , and vigorous prose.
In his dynamism, sexuality, self-revelation, and demands for freedom for oppressed people everywhere, Byron captivated the Western mind and heart as few writers have, stamping upon 19th-century letters, arts, politics, even clothing styles, his image and name as the embodiment of Romanticism.
Emotionally unstable, Catherine Byron raised her son in an atmosphere variously colored by her excessive tenderness, fierce temper, insensitivity, and pride. She was as likely to mock his lameness as to consult doctors about its correction. From his Presbyterian nurse Byron developed a lifelong love for the Bible and an abiding fascination with the Calvinist doctrines of innate evil and predestined salvation.
He also formed the first of those passionate attachments with other, chiefly younger, boys that he would enjoy throughout his life; before reaching his teen years he had been sexually initiated by his maid. There can be little doubt that he had strong bisexual tendencies, though relationships with women seem generally, but not always, to have satisfied his emotional needs more fully.
In the summer of he fell so deeply in love with his distant cousin, the beautiful-and engaged-Mary Chaworth of Annesley Hall, that he interrupted his education for a term to be near her. Early in he began an intimate correspondence with his half sister, Augusta, five years his senior. Intellectual pursuits interested him less than such London diversions as fencing and boxing lessons, the theater, demimondes, and gambling. Living extravagantly, he began to amass the debts that would bedevil him for years.
In Southwell, where his mother had moved in , he prepared his verses for publication. In November he distributed around Southwell his first book of poetry. Fugitive Pieces, printed at his expense and anonymously, collects the poems inspired by his early infatuations, friendships, and experiences at Harrow, Cambridge, and elsewhere.
When his literary adviser, the Reverend John Thomas Becher, a local minister, objected to the frank eroticism of certain lines, Byron suppressed the volume. A revised and expurgated selection of verses appeared in January as Poems on Various Occasions, in an edition of copies, also printed privately and anonymously.
The new poems in this first public volume of his poetry are little more than schoolboy translations from the classics and imitations of such pre-Romantics as Thomas Gray , Thomas Chatterton , and Robert Burns , and of contemporaries including Walter Scott and Thomas Moore. Missing were the original flashes of eroticism and satire that had enlivened poems in the private editions.
In obviously autobiographical poems Byron experiments with personae, compounded of his true self and of fictive elements, which both disclose and disguise him. Groups of verses on a single subject show his understanding of the effectiveness of multiple points of view. It was as a published poet that Byron returned to Cambridge in June The scornfully worded review had a beneficial effect. A Satire, was published anonymously in an edition of 1, copies. Inspired by the Dunciad of his idol, Pope, the poem, in heroic couplets, takes indiscriminate aim at most of the poets and playwrights of the moment, notably Walter Scott, Robert Southey , William Wordsworth , and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
His main target is the critics. The satire created a stir and found general favor with the reviewers. His admiration for Pope never wavered, nor did he ever totally abandon the heroic couplet and Augustan role of censor and moralist, as seen in Hints from Horace written , The Curse of Minerva written , and The Age of Bronze written Feeling revenged on the reviewers, Byron was anxious to realize a long-held dream of traveling abroad.
Though in debt, he gathered together sufficient resources to allow him to begin a tour of the eastern Mediterranean. Anxious to set down the myriad experiences the trip afforded him, Byron began an autobiographical poem in Ioannina, Greece, on October 31, , wherein he recorded the adventures and reflections of Childe Burun a combination of the archaic title for a youth of noble birth and an ancient form of his own surname ; he subsequently renamed the hero Harold.
Byron completed the first canto in Athens at the end of the year. Turning southward, he and Hobhouse journeyed through Missolonghi and rode into Athens on Christmas night They lodged at the foot of the Acropolis with Mrs. Tarsia Macri, widow of a Greek who had been British vice consul. In March Byron and Hobhouse extended their tour into Turkey. On March 28, in Smyrna, he completed the second canto of Childe Harold, incorporating his adventures in Albania and his thoughts on Greece.
In July he traveled back to Athens, where he settled in the Capuchin monastery below the Acropolis. Here, he studied Italian and modern Greek, just as he would learn Armenian from monks in Venice six years later. Stirred to literary composition, he first produced explanatory notes for Childe Harold; then, in February and March , he wrote two poems in heroic couplets. Byron arrived at Sheerness, Kent, on July 14, two years and 12 days after his departure.
Significantly, he would select as the epigraph for Childe Harold a passage from Le Cosmopolite, ou, le Citoyen du Monde , by Louis Charles Fougeret de Monbron, that, in part, compares the universe to a book of which one has read but the first page if he has seen only his own country. Within three weeks of his return, Byron was plunged into a period of prolonged mourning. His mother died on August 2, before he set out for Newstead.
Whatever her failings, she had loved her son, taken pride in his accomplishments, and managed Newstead economically in his absence. Then, in October, he learned of the death from consumption of John Edleston, the former choirboy at Trinity College. He also commemorated Edleston in additions to Childe Harold. During his political career he spoke but three times in the House of Lords, taking unpopular sides.
In his maiden speech on February 27 he defended stocking weavers in his home area of Nottinghamshire who had broken the improved weaving machinery, or frames, that deprived them of work and reduced them to near starvation; he opposed as cruel and unjust a government-sponsored bill that made frame breaking a capital offense.
On April 21, he made a plea for Catholic emancipation, the most controversial issue of the day. Dallas, his adviser in the publication of English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers. Dallas enthusiastically showed the poem to John Murray II, the respected publisher of Scott and Southey, who agreed to publish Byron, beginning a rich association between publisher and poet.
An octavo edition of 3, copies at 12 shillings was on the market within two days. In less than six months sales had reached 4, copies. Though he, too, speculated on such a relationship, Walter Scott, recognized that in Harold Byron had created a new and significant Romantic character type which reappeared in almost all his heroes. Thorslev, Jr. Among their traits are romantic melancholy, guilt for secret sin, pride, defiance, restlessness, alienation, revenge, remorse, moodiness, and such noble virtues as honor, altruism, courage, and pure love for a gentle woman.
Despite its outcome, his connection with Lady Caroline left him on friendly terms with her mother-in-law, the witty Elizabeth Milbanke Lamb, Lady Melbourne. Through her, in September, he proposed marriage to her niece, Anne Isabella Annabella Milbanke, as a possible means of escaping the insistent Caroline. A year-old bluestocking, Annabella was widely read in literature and philosophy and showed a talent for mathematics.
In June Byron began an affair with his year-old half sister, Augusta. In the midst of this relationship, Byron received a letter from Annabella Milbanke, who confessed her mistake in rejecting his proposal and cautiously sought to renew their friendship. Correspondence ensued. Another burst of poetic creativity overlapped the success of The Bride of Abydos.
On the 16th, it was published anonymously. Since Harrow, Byron had had mixed feelings about Napoleon. He admired the titanic qualities of the brilliant strategist, dynamic soldier, and statesman, but he was repelled by his brutal conquest of Iberia and his perversion of liberal ideals.
That ambivalence colors the poem. On April 15, Augusta gave birth to a little girl, Elizabeth Medora. There is no extant proof either way. Byron spent much of the summer of with Augusta, while continuing to correspond with Annabella. In a letter dated September 9, he made a tentative proposal of marriage; she promptly accepted it.
In marriage Byron hoped to find a rational pattern of living and to reconcile the conflicts that plagued him. Toward his bride the groom was by turns tender and abusive. Throughout his life Byron was a fervent reader of the Bible and a lover of traditional songs and legends. As a champion of freedom, he may also have responded instinctively to the oppression long suffered by the Jewish people.
Throughout financial problems and heavy drinking drove Byron into rages and fits of irrational behavior. When Annabella was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, he made her the scapegoat for his troubles. On December 10, , she gave birth to Augusta Ada Byron the first name was later dropped. Early in the new year, increased money worries forced Byron to suggest that they move from their expensive Piccadilly Terrace address.
He never saw them again. From Kirkby Mallory Lady Byron wrote affectionately to her husband in London, urging him to join her. Byron was shocked. On March 17 the terms for the legal separation were agreed upon. During the separation crisis, Byron had a casual liaison with Claire Jane Clairmont. That she was the stepdaughter of the philosopher William Godwin and the stepsister of Mary Godwin, with whom Percy Bysshe Shelley had eloped in , may have induced him to tolerate her determined advances, which he had no intention of encouraging.
Byron signed the final deed of separation on April 21, having decided to go abroad with the completion of this formality. On the 25th, they sailed from Dover bound for Ostend. Byron would never see England again. The party reached Geneva on May 25, Byron was unaware that waiting for him were Claire Clairmont, pregnant with his child, Shelley, and Mary Godwin. They passed the time agreeably by boating on Lake Leman and conversing at the Villa Diodati, which Byron had rented, with its commanding view of the lake and the Juras beyond.
The poem, in turn, expresses deeper human understanding and advances more positive values than earlier works. On July 4, three days after returning from his boat tour of Lake Leman, Byron completed the third canto of Childe Harold.
Its framework is a poetic travelogue based on his journey from Dover to Waterloo, then along the Rhine and into Switzerland. Having failed to maintain a convincing distinction between himself and his hero in the previous cantos, Byron drops the pretense and speaks in his own right. Harold becomes a shadowy presence who disappears in the middle of the canto, absorbed into the narrator.
The new protagonist, a Hero of Sensibility, expresses the melancholy, passion, and alienation of the original Harold, as well as Byronic liberalism, sensitivity, and meditation. Four major themes inform the third canto.
Lord Byron (George Gordon)
Top Questions Why is Lord Byron significant? Lord Byron was a British Romantic poet and satirist whose poetry and personality captured the imagination of Europe. George Gordon Byron was born in , the son of British Capt. After John squandered most of her fortune, she and her son lived on a meagre income in Scotland.
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Beppo, A Venetian Story - Poem by George Gordon Byron
Beppo (Byron, versions)