Wednesday, May 23, 2007

EDW: George Gordon, Lord Byron


Byron lived as he dressed - beautifully if not happily. Regrettably his iconic status has detracted attention from his poetry, at least in Britain. It might owe something to the relative ease with which his works can be translated, or his massive influence in other countries (Russia especially: no Byron, no Pushkin; no Puskin, Russia would be a different place), but he only receives his dues abroad.

In an attempt to redress the balance let me urge you to read Don Juan, Beppo or some of the lyric verses. You'll find everything you need there - love, sex, hatred, idealism, despair, rebellion, sin, hypocrisy, blasphemy, religion, melancholy, wit, fashion, literary criticism, beauty, terror and decay. The very quintessence of life, in fact. Moreover, it's written with such zest, verve, elegance and wit. Byron was moreover a supreme master in the use of rhyme which, as thousands of amateur poets prove, is not as easy as it seems.

Sadly poetry in English since his death has tended towards the introspective, self referential and the belief that obscurity is, in fact, a form of subtlety and intelligence. I blame Wordsworth for this (partly because I can and partly because The Prelude marks the moment where it all went wrong).

I'll stop before I become boring on the topic. Instead a couple of Byron's finest.

What men call gallantry and the gods adultery
Is much more common where the climate's sultry.

and

But - Oh! ye lords of ladies intellectual,
Inform us truly, have they not hen-pecked you all?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Quink said...

Feckin' picture. Which one did you choose?

Fine EDW though.

11:06 am  
Blogger bill said...

Ah rats, I've replaced it with a new one.

12:48 pm  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Humph. You beat me to it. He was going to be my next EDW. Fine choice. And I'm completely with you on Wordsworth - irritating little man.

Puss

11:48 am  

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