Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Poet/Poetry Study - Lord Byron

Lord Byron was born on January 22, 1788, in Dover, Kent, Great Britain. His father was Captain John 'Mad Jack' Byron and mother was Catherine Gordon, heiress of Gight in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

After the death of her husband, Catherine took her son back to Scotland, where she raised him in Aberdeenshire. The death of his great-uncle, the “wicked” Lord Byron inherited him with both his estate (Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire) and title.

Byron received his formal education at Aberdeen Grammar School. After completing his school, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge. When not attending college, Byron lived with his mother in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. During this time he became friends with Elizabeth Pigot and her brother, John.

Elizabeth encouraged Byron to write poetry and - at 14 years old - he produced his first poem, “Fugitive Pieces.” However, the poem was quickly recalled and destroyed on the advice of his friend, the Reverend Thomas Beecher, due to its amorous verses.

On March 13, 1809, Byron took his seat in the House of Lords but very soon left London on June 11, 1809 for a continental trip. On his return from his trip, he asked his relative, R.C. Dallas, to publish his poem, “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.” Two sections of "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" were published in 1812 and became success.

This success was followed by equally popular “Oriental Tales,” “The Giaour,” “The Bride of Abydos,” “The Corsair,” and “Lara, A Tale.”

Lord Byron had a reputation of being extravagant, courageous, unconventional, melancholic, eccentric, flamboyant, and controversial. He was known for his independent nature and extremes of temper.

After falling ill on February 15, 1824, Lord Byron was given the remedy of bloodletting which weakened him further. Before he could recover, he caught a significant cold. It was believed that he developed sepsis due to the use of improperly sterilized medical equipment. After a high fever, Byron died on April 19, 1824.


Sophia and Olivia listened to the following six poems and had these thoughts about them:

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Sophia thought: It was okay. It just blended together. There wasn't any real story to it. The beginning and the end of the poem stood out for me. I thought the tone was a little more defined in the beginning and the end.

Olivia thought: The part that stood out the most for me was the first couple of lines. Definitely towards the end it did blend in. 


When We Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow--
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me--
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:
Lond, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

I secret we met--
I silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.

Sophia thought: It had a very melancholy kind of tone. I'm a huge fan of that kind of tone, so I didn't really like it. He was reminiscing about someone he lost or broke up with or had a falling out with. 

Olivia thought: It sounded like someone had their heart broken. There were lots of sad parts to it. I kind of liked it. There were parts that I liked and could understand. It made me kind of sad.


So, We'll Go No More A-Roving

So, we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have a rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

Sophia thought: I thought he wasn't going to do any more love poems. I like the beginning. I like the title - it's different from other poems he wrote.

Olivia thought: It sounded very romantic. I liked that one because it had a soft tune to it. I like the end with the moon part at the end.


Stanzas for Music

There be none of Beauty's daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming:

And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o'er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving,
As an infant's asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer's ocean.

Sophia thought: I like that one because it seemed to flow more easily than the other ones. It seems like a lot of the poems he writes are romantic and pining after a lover. 

Olivia thought: I liked this one, but it wasn't my favorite one. I liked the one you read before this one. I liked the ending because I could imagine them walking on the beach in the night time. It's very romantic


The Destruction of Sennacherib 

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass'd;
And the eyes of the sleepers wax'd deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still.

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there roll'd not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Sophia thought: I liked that parts of it rhymed. It sounded more uniform and a poem to me. I like the beginning...it made me think of blue and green for some reason. I thought it was kind of long. It could have been shortened.

Olivia thought: I like the part about the Angel of Death. It does rhyme! It was good. It was a bit long. I also liked the ending.


There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Sophia thought: Is that it? I like the ending, but I don't really like this poem. It doesn't seem like anything special. I don't know why. I definitely liked the one before better.

Olivia thought: I liked the part when "I love not man the less, but Nature more." I liked that because it means that the person likes nature more than mankind. Also, I like the first two lines at the beginning. It made it sound interesting. I kind of imagined no path in the woods with the sun shining through the trees.



Rita said...

Oh, Lord Byron. I haven't read his poetry since high school 50 years ago--LOL! The old poems have to be taken in slowly, I think. Absorbed line by line. :)

I didn't know about his life. He sounds like he was quite a character!

Carol said...

The Destruction of Sennacherib was an all time favourite at our place. Quite different to some of his other poetry.