On the poem “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” by G. G. Byron - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

On the poem “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” by G. G. Byron
Lord George Gordon Byron

At the end of June 1809, Byron went on a two-year journey, during which he visited Portugal, Spain, Albania, Turkey, Greece. Byron was interested in the peoples of these countries, their life and culture. He was especially struck by social contrasts: he saw the unlimited arbitrariness of local and foreign tyrants, the complete lack of rights of peoples. During the journey, he realized the social purpose of poetry and the civic vocation of the poet. During these two years he wrote the first two songs of the poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.

The poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" is Byron's first romantic work, a new type of romance, different from all its predecessors. The poet does not run away from reality, he defends the freedom of peoples, their right to the national liberation struggle, speaking in defense of the individual from violence and humiliation, he demands active actions from the person himself, brands him with shame because he could bow his head before tyranny . Like all romantics, Byron sang of nature, but not abstractly, but in connection with man, arguing that only a free and spiritually developed person can achieve harmony between himself and nature. The whole poem is permeated by the connection of times: the past is illuminated by the light of modernity and, together with the present, allows you to look into the future.

The first song tells about the invasion of Napoleonic troops on the Iberian Peninsula. The poet's sympathies are entirely on the side of the Spaniards fighting the invaders. Byron manages to show the people in action, in mass scenes when people fight, work, have fun. He also dwells on individual heroic personalities, for example, the maiden from Saragossa. In the unity of the hero with the people, Byron sees the key to the success of the Spaniards' struggle for a just cause, which was important not only for Spain itself:

... the enslaved peoples are waiting,

Will Spain achieve freedom,

So that more countries will rise behind it,

the poet writes.

The theme of the struggling people continues to develop in the second song. Childe Harold, traveling, ends up in Albania, then ends up in Greece. A significant part of the song is dedicated to Greece. The poet always sees a contrast between the great past of this country and the humiliated position of the Greeks under the Turkish yoke. Delight before the "beautiful Hellas" is replaced by anger towards her descendants, who submitted to a foreign yoke:

... the Greek is silent, and the slaves bend their backs,

And humbled under the Turkish whips,


Stretched Trampled in the mud.

But anger gives way to hope that among the people “the former power of indomitable liberty lives on,” and the poet calls: “O Greece! Get up and fight!"

The poet's love for Greece is unchanging, and the stanzas about it in the poem help to better understand why Byron joins the ranks of the fighters for the freedom of the Greek people.

On March 10, 1812, the first two songs of Childe Harold are published, and Byron becomes widely known. "Childe Harold" endures edition after edition, the popularity of the poet is growing day by day.

Once in Switzerland, Byron tries to capture in his letters, in his diary everything that he sees remarkable: historical places, nature, people, their way of life. These observations were then embodied in the third song of Childe Harold. This song reflected his travel impressions, he was forced to leave his homeland and go to Switzerland. Here he reflects on the Battle of Waterloo (he first visited this historic site) and the defeat of Napoleon.

From the Battle of Waterloo, the poet shifts his gaze to the majestic nature, but does not stop thinking about how wars at all times destroyed both natural and man-made beauty. Thoughts of war resurface when the lyrical hero in Switzerland compares the 15th-century battle for the independence of the city of Morata with Waterloo: “It was not tyrants who won the battle there, / But liberty, and Citizenship, and the Law.” Only such goals can justify wars in the eyes of Byron. The nature of Switzerland leads the poet to the idea that Man is a part of Nature, and in this unity is the joy of life: “Blessed is whose life is one with nature ... / I do not close myself there. / There I am a part of Nature, her creation. Developing this idea, Byron glorifies Rousseau, an educator who stood up for the connection of man with nature, who proclaimed the ideas of equality and freedom of people. He also remembers another thinker,

The third song reflects Byron's thoughts about the events that worried the whole world at that time. Hymns to nature, laconic and apt descriptions of historical figures, a genre scene depicting a ball before the Battle of Waterloo are woven into a free, unconstrained narrative.

Canto 4 of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage was written in Italy and published in 1818. Italy became for Byron a country in which many of his creative and life ideas came true. There he found personal happiness by meeting Teresa Guiccioli.

In the fourth song, the most voluminous in the poem, the poet seeks to give an integral and versatile image of the country, which has actually become his second homeland. With all the love for Italy, admiration for its historical past and high artistic culture, Byron looks at her through the eyes of a man who does not forget his own country and his people. AND; “as long as the language of Britain speaks”, he believes that she will live in his memory.

Italy in the image of Byron is a country that cannot be alien to other peoples. "Italy! The peoples must stand up / For your honor, sweeping aside strife ... ”, he exclaims with conviction. But the poet calls on the Italians themselves to fight and remember examples from the heroic history of their country, not to forget its great sons. Turning to Venice, he recalls the "thousand-year-old freedom" - the poet cannot see her resigned to the loss of independence, because only in the struggle "the human soul ripens and grows." In Ferrara, the lyrical hero recalls Torquato Tasso, an outstanding poet who, by order of the duke, was declared insane and kept in prison for seven years. The name of the duke would have long been forgotten, writes Byron, if his atrocities "were not woven into the fate of the poet." Poets, thinkers and heroes of Italy are dear to everyone, Byron calls Florence - the birthplace of Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio is an “ungrateful city”, because there they “do not even have busts”. Rome was "the land of his dreams", and many stanzas are devoted to it. Through the monuments, the ruins, the poet's gaze seeks to penetrate the thickness of the centuries in order to revive in his imagination the bygone times.

The fourth canto is filled with descriptions of the sights of Italy, but it shows how the poet strives to overcome the romantic notion of the historical experience of mankind and, restraining his imagination so as not to go into reasoning abstract from reality, often strikes with foresight of the future. In stanzas dedicated to the French Revolution, Byron expresses the hope that in the future "seeds sown with freedom ... will no longer bear bitter fruit."

Just like in the previous songs, the poet sings of nature with inspiration: the description of the sea in the finale is unforgettable, the picture that conveys the beauty of the Velino waterfall. According to Byron, it is nature that enables a person to come into contact with eternity. Eternity in the mind of the poet is an unchanging category. Time is fleeting, it is in motion. The passage of time often plunges the poet into despondency and sadness, but he also connects with him the hopes that those who slandered him will be exposed, because only Time is “false judgments, the faithful corrector.”

The poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" was completed. She absorbed Byron's life experience from his youth to the beginning of the most fruitful period of creativity.