“What is he looking for in a distant land?” (George Gordon Byron, “Child Harold's Pilgrimage”)
Lord George Gordon Byron
At first glance, Childe Harold, wandering aimlessly around the world and trying in vain to get rid of longing in his wanderings, seems to be the best addressee of the lines from the famous Lermontov poem "Sail" ("The lonely sail turns white ..."), written later "Pilgrimage .. .” and, undoubtedly, in the footsteps of the English romantic poet:
What is he looking for in a distant land,
What did he throw in his native land?
But here's the strange thing: in the title of his work, Byron defined Childe Harold's journey as a "pilgrimage." Traditionally, "pilgrimage" refers to the journey of a deeply religious person to holy places. In Byron's poem, a young man who has lost faith in life is depicted, driven on wanderings by the desire to escape from his homeland, where he cannot find the meaning of his existence. It turns out that the author was syronizing, putting the opposite meaning into the word "pilgrimage"? If this is true, then only in part: on the path of Harold, in fact, there are shrines, about which the narrator speaks with almost religious awe, namely, manifestations of creative genius and military heroism. Such shrines are contrasted in the poem with everyday reality, dull and insignificant in peaceful conditions (as, for example, in England, from which the hero flees), mutilated by violence in the conditions of a foreign yoke or the Napoleonic wars (as, for example, in Italy and Spain visited by Harold). In this opposition, the principle of romantic duality is realized.