Byron, Shelley and the romantic
During our long history on this earth, a lot of different people has lived and
died. But, there are those who never dies completely, but continues to live on and who´s
thoughts, ideas, and literature still are alive. Examples of this kind of people is Percy
Shelley and Lord Byron, who are the represantives of the romantic era in Europe. Both
lived what other people would call selfdestructive lives, and died very young.
|Percy Shelley was born Aug 4 1792 in Sussex into a wealthy and politically prominent
family. He had a stormy career at Eton College an Oxford University, and in 1811 he was
expelled for writing a pamphlet called "The necessity of Atheism".
Shelley believed the Irish were being oppressed by their English rulers, and tried to rise
the Irish to rebel against England.
In August 1811, he eloped with Harriet Westbrook who was only 16 years old and married
her. In 1814 he abandoned her and ran away with Mary Godwin, daughter to William Godwin.
Both said they didnt believe in marriage, but got married anyway in 1816 after
Shelleys first wife Harriet had drowned herself.
The same year, Percy and his new wife Mary formed a close relationship with the poet
Lord Byron in Geneva, Switzerland.
Toghether they spent the nights in Byrons villa Diodati by the Genéva lake and read poems
and stories by an open fire. The young poets found eachother during long poetic and
philosophical discussions, and became very close friends.
After 1818, Shelley went into permanent exile in Italy.
There he wrote a sequence of important poems, like Prometheus unbound, The witch of
Atlas, Epipsychidion, and Hellas.
His poems are emotionally direct, but hard to understand with your intellect.
His most famous lyric is "Ode to the west wind" .
He had no faith in church, said that "truth can be understood by imagination
In July 1822, Shelley drowned during a storm while sailing near Leghorn, Italy. He
wasnt buried, instead his wife Mary and his good friend Byron made a big fire by the
water and burned his body.
Whether Shelley ever found some definite faith, philosophical or otherwise we do not know.
However, Shelley always looked toward the hope of inspiration, as in the "Ode to the
west wind" :
"Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened earth
The trumpet of a prophecy"
George Gordon Byron
|Byron was the most colourful of the English romantic poets and many people find his
adventurous life as interesting as his poetry. Byron´s work frankly reflected his own
experiences and sentiments. His poetry is sometimes violent, sometimes tender, and
frequently exotic. But the underlying theme is always Byron´s insistency that people are
free to choose their own course in life.
George Gordon Byron was born in1788 in London, but he lived most of his first 10 years in
Scotland with his mother. When Byron was only 3 years old his father died and at the age
of 10, Byron inherited the title Lord Byron upon the death of his great-uncle. He then
returned to England, where he attended Harrow School and Cambridge University.
Byron´s first book of poems, Hours of Idleness (1807), was severely criticized by
the Edinburgh Review, a Scottish literary magazine. Byron replied with English Bards
and Scotch Reviewers (1809), a verse satire in which he attacked almost every notable
literary figure of the day.
In 1815, Byron married Anne Isabella Milbanke. Their brief, unhappy marriage ended partly
because of rumours that Byron had committed incest with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh.
Byron left England forever in 1816.
The poet settled in Italy where he carried on a long romance with the Countess Teresa
Guiccioli and became involved in Italian revolutionary politics. Byron also continued his
writing and published such works as the verse dramas Manfred (1817) and Cain
His last and greatest work was the long unfinished epic Don Juan. He was still
writing this poem when he decided to join the Greeks in their war of independence from the
Turks and this happened in 1823. Unfortunately he did not live to see the success of the
revolution. Byron died after a brief illness on April 19, 1824 in Missolonghi, Greece.
Byron´s masterpiece, Don Juan. makes an epic hero of the legendary lover. However,
the hero has weaknesses that place him in the comic epic tradition rather than in the
classical epic tradition. But the most important element in the epic is the manner in
which Byron tells the story. His tone changes continuously ,ranging from forceful to
sentimental, cynical, self-mocking and self-assured. But whatever the tone, Byron
expresses his anger at the deceptions and cruelties that people practise on one another.
That attitude is the main force behind all his poetry.
STANZAS FOR MUSIC
There be none of Beauty´s daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean`s pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lulled winds seem dreaming.
And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o´er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving,
As an infant´s asleep.
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Smmer´s ocean.
© 1998 Freeway
Writers: Jessica Eriksson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and
Ida Zetterlund (email@example.com).
HTML by: Lars Corneer (firstname.lastname@example.org).