Freedom-loving pathos of the fourth song of the poem “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

Freedom-loving pathos of the fourth song of the poem “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage”
Lord George Gordon Byron

The fourth canto, unlike all the other cantos in the poem, begins directly with a description of Venice. Refusing introductions, Byron immediately introduces the reader to the world of his impressions of Italy. Ancient cities with their monuments of architecture and art, great people of the past pass through the stanzas of the poem, drinking themselves into a kind of integral, general idea of Italy - this "mother of art", as Byron calls it. Remarkable is the skill with which the poet speaks in this part of his work about poets - about Dante and Boccaccio, about Petrarch, Ariosto and Tasso. Italy languishes in captivity: all the thoughts, all the themes of the fourth song lead the reader to the conclusion that this can no longer continue, that the peoples of Europe must free Italy, the guardian of European culture, from the shameful slavery in which the Austrians, the papal church, hold her,

Italy! It's time for all countries to rise, so that your torment ends forever. May Europe not bear the crime And, having driven back the hordes of barbarians, Will give you freedom... (IV, 47; tr. G. Shengyoli)

The freedom-loving pathos of the fourth song rises to the highest tension in the description of Rome: this is the city of the great past of Italy, this is a city that especially sharply testifies with all its appearance to the plight of the country in the era of Byron, but it is also a city of the future. The verses of the poem sound like a triumphant faith in the cause of freedom, instilling courage and vigor in the hearts of the fighters for the freedom of Italy:

But your banner, Liberty, nevertheless winds, torn. Thunderstorm flying against the winds; Your horn is cracked, but, through the hurricanes, His call is still heard to us. (IV, 98; translated by G. Shengeli)

The last song of the Pilgrimage ends broadly and freely: the poet turns to his beloved sea, creates a majestic image of the always free element, not subject to the most severe and cruel despots, the most powerful world empires. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, a poem about a man who nevertheless recovered from spiritual emptiness and melancholy, becoming a friend of peoples fighting against feudal reaction and the soulless, merciless power of the golden bag, is a profoundly innovative work. No one before Byron tried to give such a broad picture of the beginning of the new century, to combine in it a story about the fate of the peoples of Europe and a story about a young man very dissatisfied with himself and his environment, looking for new ideals, new historical perspectives.

Byron's innovation was also reflected in the very verse of the poem. Byron wrote his poem in the Spencer stanza, a nine-line stanza first widely used by the poet Edmund Spenser. The choice of this seemingly complex form was not accidental: as Byron himself wrote in the "Preface" to the first and second songs, "Spencer's stanza ... allows the expression of a wide variety of feelings and thoughts." Byron had to find a poetic form that would be convenient for a narrative, epic canvas and at the same time would make it possible to introduce various lyrical digressions, inserted episodes, entire separate lyric poems, only externally connected with the development of the poem. These introductory lyrical poems are beautiful in themselves and adorn Byron's poem, protecting it from monotony and monotony (see the first song - "To Hoarfrost", third song - poems about the Rhine; Appeal to Ada Byron in the third song, etc.).

Within the framework of Spencer's stanza, Byron used a variety of colloquial turns with great skill, introduced into it conversations with the reader, fragmentary lyrical comments, outwardly at first glance making it difficult to read, but giving the poem remarkable liveliness and immediacy. Often, when reading a poem, it is as if you hear the poet's voice addressing the reader, sharing with. with the most intimate, sometimes still unformed thoughts.