Lord Byron's famous love poetry is almost overshadowed by his notorious life.
In famous love poetry, few individuals are as complex as our next subject, Lord George Gordon Noel Byron 1788-1824. Of all the poets to ever put pen to paper in famous love poetry, few attracted as much opprobrium and fascination in equal measure. He was controversial, brilliant and iconoclastic, as much for his literary fame as his social notoriety. Byron has even been called the first known example of the modern day superstar.
Long before the advent of the mass media and Hollywood, his combination of stylish film star good looks, aristocratic bearing, searing poetry, scandalous society affairs and total contempt for the hyprocrisy of his times made him both revered and reviled.
Born with great prepossession in spite of the handicap of a lame foot, Byron's contributions to Famous love poetry and the English Romantic Poetry genre has made his name a metaphor for romantic appearance and temperament. His best works from 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage' (1812), (which won him instant fame), to 'The Vision of Judgement' (1822) exhibited drama, romance and moving lyricism. He was also a most gifted satirist who displayed the ability for swift narration and vivid description.
Byron's place as a literary great who wrote famous love poetry is often compromised by the notoriety of his turbulent and scandalous life, and contemporary and critical opinion diverged widely on his true place in the poetic pantheon. To Goethe, 'Lord Byron is only great as a poet, as soon as he reflects, he is a child' While Matthew Arnold in his famous Essays in Criticism rated Byron and Wordsworth, the two greatest English poets of the 19th century.
'Mad, bad and dangerous to know' is the supreme Byronic epitaph attributed to Lady Caroline Lamb maybe his most scandalous love, who depicted him savagely in her 'Glenarvon' (1816).
Now lets us look at some of the famous love poetry of the 'Mad, bad and dangerous to know' Lord Byron:
'She Walks In Beauty' is my first choice. It is my personal favorite among his famous love poetry.
She Walks In Beauty
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
A second example of his famous love poetry is 'When We Two Parted':
When We Two Parted
When we two parted
In silence and tears,
To sever the years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder, thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.
The dew of the morning
Sunk, chill on my brow,
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.
They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me...
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well..
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.
In secret we met
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears
Here are two more examples of famous love poetry from Lord Byron.
So We'll Go No More A Roving
So, we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the hearth must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the days return too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.
I Watched Thee -
I watched thee when the foe was at our side
Ready to strike at him, or thee and me
Were safety hopeless rather than divide
Aught with one loved, save love and liberty.
I watched thee in the breakers when the rock
Received our prow and all was storm and fear
And bade thee cling to me through every shock
This arm would be thy bark or breast thy bier.
I watched thee when the fever glazed thine eyes
Yielding my couch, and stretched me on the ground
When overworn with watching, ne'er to rise
From thence, if thou an early grave hadst found.
The Earthquake came and rocked the quivering wall
And men and Nature reeled as if with wine
Whom did I seek around the tottering Hall
For thee, whose safety first provide for thine.
And when convulsive throes denied my breath
The faintest utterance to my fading thought
To thee, to thee, even in the grasp of death
My spirit turned. Ah! oftener than it ought.
Thus much and more, and yet thou lov'st me not,
And never wilt, Love dwells not in our will
Nor can I blame thee, though it be my lot
To strongly, wrongly, vainly, love thee still.
Byron's famous love poetry gives us a glimpse of the tremendous passions that moved him.
Lord Byron's hedonistic lifestyle and much recorded cavalier and scandalous treatment of his many women certainly does not lend credence to any reputation he might have as a caring and sensitive soul, but maybe this next example of his famous love poetry can be seen as proof of some redeeming evidence.
His first true love at the age of 16, was Mary Chaworth who two years older, was derisive about his devotion to her. Byron, already aware of the doomed outcome of this unrequited love, wrote with a pencil in a volume of Madame de Maintenon's letters, belonging to her, the following verses, which was never published:
"Oh Memory, torture me no more,
The present's all o'ercast;
My hopes of future bliss are o'er,
In mercy veil the past.
Why bring those images to view
I henceforth must resign ?
Ah ! why those happy hours renew,
That never can be mine?
Past pleasure doubles present pain,
To sorrow adds regret,
Regret and hope are both in vain,
I ask but to — forget."
Years later, after contracting an unhappy marriage, she sought vainly to rekindle his interest, at a time his fame as a great poet was burgeoning. As is often the case in such matters, it was far too late.
My last example of his famous love poetry is the somewhat mocking and scathing 'Remember thee! remember thee!' written in a fit of pique at the hounding he received from the quite hysterical Lady Caroline Lamb who could not cope with the cruel manner he discarded her. Their affair, (she was of course, married) scandalised London society so much, that Byron had to flee England to save face!
Remember thee! remember thee!
Till Lethe quench life's burning stream
Remorse and shame shall cling to thee,
And haunt thee like a feverish dream!
Remember thee! Aye, doubt it not.
Thy husband too shall think of thee:
By neither shalt thou be forgot,
Thou false to him, thou fiend to me!
In a famous reaction following the scandal, Byron wrote in a letter to a friend in 1821:
"I can never get people to understand that poetry is the expression of excited passion, and that there is no such thing as a life of passion any more than a continuous earthquake, or an eternal fever. Besides, who would ever shave themselves in such a state?"
Let us end this page on the famous love poetry of Lord Byron with his own remarkable lines of his epitaph, written with such massive precociousness when he was barely 15 years old and still a student at Harrow!
" My epitaph shall be my name alone;
If that with honour fail to crown my clay,
Oh may no other fame my deeds repay ;
That, only that, shall single out the spot,
By that remember'd, or with that forgot."
Prophetic words! When we consider today how that name and image have become a metaphor for all its owner stood for: Flamboyance, artistic brilliance, notoriety, physical beauty and rebellion!
Famous Love Poetry Examples 1
Emily Dickinson 1
Emily Dickinson 2
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