Byron, George Noel Gordon English Poet - Lord George Gordon Byron

Essays on literary works - 2023

Byron, George Noel Gordon English Poet
Lord George Gordon Byron

He belonged to an old English family, and on his mother's side, nee Gordon, was a direct descendant of King James I of Scotland. His father, leading a dissolute life (nickname "Mad Jack"), squandered the remnants of his fortune and his wife's dowry, fled to France, fleeing creditors, where he died when Byron was three years old.

The mother, left with almost no means of subsistence, took her son to her homeland, to Aberdeen. In 1798, after the death of his great-uncle Byron inherited the title of lord and parental estate - Newstead Abbey. In 1801 he entered the aristocratic school of Harrow, in 1805 - to Cambridge. In December 1806, his first collection of poetry, Fugitive Pieces, was published, which, on the advice of a friend who considered some of his poems very sensitive, Byron took and destroyed (four copies survived). Soon the world saw the second edition of this collection, which consisted of only twelve works and had a changed title "Poems on Various Occasions" ("Poems on Various Occasions"). Both editions appeared without attribution. For the first time Byron put his name, publishing in June 1807

The debut did not go unnoticed. In January 1808, a review was published in the influential Edinburgh Reviewer, not signed according to the then journal ethics, but which is believed to have been written by one of the founders of the journal, Lord Broom. Her harsh tone was provoked by the preface of the novice poet: addressing the reader, the author asked to be indulgent with his immature attempts on the grounds that for him, a titled aristocrat, "poetry is not a matter of life, but only a consequence of hours of leisure" (hence the name) .

The gentleman's prejudices characteristic of the era regarding the profession of a writer make themselves felt. Byron paid tribute to them, for a certain time and in the future, refusing literary royalties. The critic, having read the verses, agreed that they fit the warning: immature, imitative. However, indulgence refused. Criticism, with its sharpness, was in many ways fair, but not heartfelt.

Byron made his first and his most unsuccessful attempt to create, following the example of other romantics, an image-mask: a young poet, an aristocratic poet. The image was constructed using the latest romantic motifs: in admiration for the family estate (“Farewell to Newstead” - “On Leaving Newstead Abbey”) there was something from the Walter Scott Middle Ages. In a passion for memories - from the dreamy introspection inherent in W. Wordsworth. In the anacreontic love poems, the heroines of which were hidden under the fictitious names of Emma, Caroline, the influence of T. Moore was guessed. Nevertheless, the best that had already been written and what was being written at that time remained outside the collection. For example, poems addressed to Mary Chavort: "Fragment Written Shortly After the Marriage of Miss Chavort",

The same month - June 1807, when the collection was published, the program verse is dated, the title of which is quite accurately reproduced in Ukrainian in the translation of D. Palamarchuk - “To the Goddess of Fantasy” (“That Romance”): “I freed myself from your spell, / / I broke the shackles of youth / And the land of chimeras, where I dreamed in vain, / Changed to the realm of truth. A confession unexpected in the mouth of a romantic poet, but justified by Byron, who favored romantic biography over romantic fantasy. Others imagined the exotic wonders of the East, and Byron traveled there, surveying everything with the captious gaze of a politician. Others protested in their imaginations, but at first, in his parliamentary speeches and poems, he supported the destroyers of machine tools - the Luddites, rebellious Ireland, and over time, he personally took part in the conspiracy of the Italian Carbonari and the Greek uprising. He saw himself first of all as a politician, a public figure, and then as a poet, although his poetry was the most significant public work. Hence his skeptical attitude towards romanticism in general and his preference for A. Pope, a poet of understandable and often revealing thought.

Byron already announced this in his first satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. It was conceived and started as early as October 1807, but its tone and many harsh critical thoughts about modern literature were provoked by a negative review of the Leisure Hours. The satire was published anonymously in March 1809. Byron did not accept modern romanticism, although his attacks against W. Wordsworth, R. Southey, T. Moore, W. Scott were of a personal nature.

The scandal that exploded (like the challenge to a duel sent by the offended T. Moore) did not find Byron in England. In June 1809 he set out on a two-year voyage to the Mediterranean. Upon his return, he confessed that the satire came out of his pen too harshly, and apologized. But not everything in it can be explained by momentary irritation. There are assessments in it that Byron will not renounce, not perceiving either the touching childhood of W. Wordsworth, or the semantic obscurity of S. T. Coleridge ...

Without accepting, in essence, the most important thing - the role of the poet, as it seemed to the romantics. For him, a poet is not a magician, not a balladeer, not a solitary dreamer, but an orator, a public figure. This he will confirm with his second manifesto, brought back from his eastern journey, the poem "In the footsteps of Horace" ("Hints from Horace"). Byron attached great importance to this poem, but disappointed his friends, who expected something else.