The Life and Works of George Byron
Lord George Gordon Byron
One of the brightest names in the glorious galaxy of civil revolutionary romantics is George Noel Gordon Byron, whom Pushkin called "a genius, the ruler of thoughts", and Belinsky - "an immense, colossal poet": "Byron is the Prometheus of our century, chained to a rock, tormented kite…”. The years of his life coincided with the era generated by the Great French Revolution, the time of the Napoleonic wars, the struggle of peoples for national independence in Europe and Russia, the industrial crisis and the Luddite movement in England. It was a time when the word "freedom" sounded in all languages. It raised the Spaniards, Poles, Portuguese, Albanians, Irish, Italian Carbonari, Russian peasants and intellectual nobles, later called Decembrists, to fight. Byron's work reflected both the bright hopes of the liberation struggle, and despondency,
The stormy, eventful life of Byron was surrounded by a halo of romance. He wrote about himself: “... I did not live in vain, although, perhaps, under the burden of adversity, I was broken by the struggle, I will fade away early, but there is something in me that will not die, which neither death, nor time flight, nor the slander of enemies destroy…” And his words turned out to be prophetic.
Byron was born in London on January 22, 1788 in an aristocratic family. His father, who married a Scottish girl for the second time, very soon squandered her fortune and, fleeing from creditors, hid in France, where he died two years later. The poet's childhood passed in the Scottish town of Aberdeen. They lived very poorly with their mother. Sensitive to everything beautiful, the boy fell in love with the harsh but picturesque nature of those places, read a lot, was interested in the legends of the noble robber Robin Hood, and loved music.
When the dreamy, withdrawn George was ten years old, his great-uncle died, leaving his grandson the family ruined Newstead estate in Nottingham County and the title of Lord, which gave Byron the right to become a member of the English Parliament upon reaching the age of majority. After the initial training, the boy was sent to an aristocratic college in Harrow (Garrow). Here he left a memory of himself as a fair and faithful comrade, an inquisitive, thoughtful and at the same time lively young man. Trying to correct his physical handicap (limping), he seriously went in for sports, became a shooter, boxer, equestrian, an excellent swimmer, but his lameness remained. After graduating from college, Byron entered the University of Cambridge, where he was fond of the works of the French Enlightenment and prepared for social and political activities, for which he studied rhetoric.
The collection of his poems “Leisure Hours” published in 1807 bore traces of imitation, but testified to the fact that the young poet was strengthening his own voice and forming his own attitude to life. To feel this, it is enough to read the poem “I want to be a free child”, in which the poet’s sadness about his past childhood and sharp criticism of the life of aristocratic youth sound. He would like to “live again in his native mountains, wander through the wild forests, swing on the sea waves ...” The young man yearns for an interesting, meaningful life: “To live among slaves - I have no desire, to shake their hands - I am ashamed! ... "he was I would be happy to return the former:
* Give me back my cherished friends,
* Who shared the thrill of young thoughts,
* And I will throw orgies before dawn
* I am an empty brilliance and idle noise ...
The collection was critically acclaimed. The poet responded to an article published in the Edinburgh Review with a sharp satire "English bards and Scottish reviewers", where he assessed contemporary poets, expressed the idea of the social purpose of literature, the need for poetry "to think and speak the truth severely", and not poeticize the feudal Middle Ages with its notorious chivalry. This created Byron's reputation as an independent, courageous man. After graduating from the university, the poet in 1809 set off on a two-year journey through Europe. He visited Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece, Turkey. The journey gave the poet a lot of impressions, strengthened his democratic sympathies and political freethinking, made him an implacable enemy of social oppression. “I learned other dialects, I didn’t enter strangers as a stranger,” he recalled.
Byron's first speech, on 27 February 1812, was in defense of the Nottingham Luddite weavers. Living in this county, Byron was well aware of the plight of the workers, who were driven by hunger to destroy the machines. The government's countermeasure was to be a law (bill) on the death penalty for those who broke cars. Byron's speech stunned the Lords. The poet not only opposed the bill on the death penalty for the Luddites, he tried to open the eyes of the nobility to the plight of the working people of England and urged to think about its causes.
* “Really,” he asked, “were iron and blood ever able to heal the wounds of the destitute and hungry people? .. But do we understand what we owe to the mob? After all, this mob cultivates our fields and serves in our homes, it is from the mob that our fleet is recruited and our army is recruited, it is she who gave us the opportunity to challenge the whole world - she will challenge us ourselves if she is driven to despair by need and neglect ... We cannot allow mankind to be sacrificed to technical improvements. The maintenance of the existence of the working poor and their well-being is much higher for society than the enrichment of a few monopolists by improving the instruments of production that deprive the workers of bread.
It is hard not to see in these words an ardent sympathy for the working people, not to notice Byron's political far-sightedness. The poet appealed to the sanity of the government.
But the voice of the "rebellious lord" turned out to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness. The Luddite Death Penalty Bill was approved by Parliament. However, Byron did not give up. Three days later, an anonymous "Ode to the Authors of the Bill Against the Destroyers of Machine Tools" appeared in the press. The name itself sounded like a deadly irony. The mockery, the pain, the shame for the "free" English Parliament grows with every quatrain. By naming Foreign Minister Heydar and the zealous supporter of the bill, Lord Eldon, in the first lines, the author seems to be putting them in a pillory: "Britain will just flourish with you!" B defends the "scoundrels" who "sit without a penny, justifies them -" and the dog, starving, go stealing, parodies the speeches of members of parliament: "By pulling them up that the coils were broken, the government will save money."