Lyro epic poem “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

Lyro epic poem “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage”
Lord George Gordon Byron

The lyrical-epic poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" is remarkable in that it highlights the most pressing social problems of the early 19th century - the struggle of peoples against tyranny, their desire for national independence. The innovative content corresponds to the original form of the work: this is a lyrical-epic poem in which the description of spiritual emotions reaches perfection, and at the same time it is a sharp political satire; this is a story about the life of a London dandy and at the same time the author's travel diary. Created between 1809-1817, the poem consists of four songs and reflects various periods of Byron's life. Its integrity is achieved not so much by the presence of the protagonist, who in the last song completely disappears into the shadows, but by the fact that all the songs are the fruit of vivid impressions, rebellious thoughts, changeable moods, emotional experiences,

When reading a poem, we constantly feel the presence of two heroes: Harold and the author. And although Harold has some of Byron's character traits, they cannot be identified and confused. By the way, the poet noted that for nothing in the world he would not want to be such a subject as he created his hero.

Childe Harold (Childe is a nobleman who has not yet been knighted) is a young, but already weary aristocrat who, as is clear from the first lines of the poem, did not bother to think about the meaning and purpose of his existence. Harold leaves England without regret. His cold heart is alien to the tears of a page who sighs for his mother, the anxiety of a servant about his wife and children. “I don’t regret anything! in the past, the stormy path is not terrible, but it’s a pity that, having left my father’s house, I have no one to breathe about, ”he reflects. The purpose of his journey is to know a new life, test his spiritual strength, fill his emptiness with something and, perhaps, find his place in life. Spain, southern mountains, my warm and most importantly, people fighting for their national independence. Harold approves of the desire of the Spaniards for freedom, pays tribute to their courage, but everywhere remains only an outside observer. Some habit of not betraying his feelings has been preserved in him, and therefore it seems that his soul is not touched by the monumental beauty of the ancient monuments of Greece and Italy, the legend of their cold glory, which does not touch her and the living charm of southern beauties. But nature pours bright joy into his soul And often he wanders alone through wooded paths, steep passes, sits by a stream. Sometimes he contemplates the holidays of everyday life, the battles of people, but more often, wrapped in a cloak, as if fenced off from everything in the world, he looks at us]) From the deck of a sailing ship. A disillusioned, self-absorbed pilgrim wanders across Europe. He despises evil, but does nothing in the name of good. In his heart he condemns slavery and injustice, but will do nothing, to help people even in small ways. About the complexity and inconsistency of his hero, Byron says: “Indomitable, he could not yield to other minds that aroused contempt in him; proud and in misfortune, he again decided to look outside of humanity in himself only for life.

The author's attitude towards Harold is complex. On the one hand, he condemns the individualism of his hero, on the other hand, he likes the independence of Harold, the break with the light, empty and insignificant; I like that by his departure from a privileged milieu he challenges the aristocracy; I like that in Harold there is no servility, greed, careerism. Byron condemns the British for hypocritical "help" to Spain, based on selfish calculations.

The lyrical hero is not an impassive observer. He is disgusted by the rude entertainment of the Spanish nobility, contemplating the bullfight, and its callous indifference to the dying matador. He ardently sympathizes with the Spanish peasants, who, due to the invasion of Napoleon's "Gallic vulture", have lost their vineyards and are forced to take up arms. He admires the courage of the Spanish freedom fighters, fighting to the last, while the nobility took a conciliatory position. The treacherous policy of the Spanish aristocracy led to the fact that Napoleon declared his brother emperor of Spain; Joseph Bonaparte. The answer was a people's war - the guerrilla.

In the second song, the aspect of the image and the tone of the narration change. It tells about Harold's stay in Greece and Albania. Curses against the enslavers are interspersed with reproaches to the Greeks for the fact that “Greece, trampled in the mud, stretched out under the Turkish whips, humbled.” Byron advises the Greeks not to wait for anyone's help, but to take on their own liberation: "Neither the Gauls nor the Muscovites will save you!" The author's attitude towards the Albanians is quite different - a small, but proud and warlike people. In the Albanians of the 19th century, Byron liked cordiality, hospitality, courageous songs full of fighting enthusiasm (he collected and recorded them), dances, fidelity to national customs, patriarchal life and noble patriotism. “Keeping devotion to his sons to his homeland, he does not betray his friends in trouble and, driven by honor, revenge or love, grabs a knife,

The third and fourth songs of the poem were written after the poet left his homeland forever. It was a time of intensification of the pan-European reaction that followed the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Byron noted that the “monarch wolves”, having overthrown the “lion Napoleon”, brought new oppression to Europe. The realization that the “flower of Europe” perished in the fight against tyranny leads the poet to sad reflections. Sadness is also imbued with lyrical digressions in which Byron, an exiled poet, recalls his little daughter taken from him. But then, true to himself, he again returns to the thought of the old heroes, of the battles for the sake of liberation goals. The fourth song is a response to the emerging Carbonari movement in Italy. It is no coincidence that the Italian authorities did not agree to its printing. The poem thus reflects the fate of the countries of Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Byron claims, that its main character is the people, the thoughts, feelings, sympathies of the poet are given to him. The glorification of the people's struggle, praise to the strong and brave, the call for freedom and battles for it - this is the freedom-loving pathos of the poem, its revolutionary significance. Pictures of torn Greece are even more bitter. Temples are abandoned, they are dying, monuments of ancient culture are being despoiled. He ends his poem with an appeal to the element dear to him:

* I loved you, the sea! At the hour of the surf

* Sail away into the open, where the chest breathes freely,

* Cut through the noisy wave of the surf with your hands -

* It has been my joy from a young age.

* And cheerful fear sang in my soul,

* When a thunderstorm suddenly swooped in.

* Your child, I rejoiced at her,

* And, as now, in the breath of a violent squall

* Your hand ruffled your foamy mane.

The poem brought Byron unheard of popularity. He became the idol of youth, he was imitated even in the manner of dressing. The author attracted a brilliant mind, independence of judgment, courage.