George Gordon Noel Byron, 6th baron Byron of Rochdale. Lord Byron b. January 22, 1788, d. April 19, 1824, was the quintessential poet of the romantic era.
“She walks in beauty like the night”, a very famous and well known phrase. George Byron penned this poem about an aunt that he had seen one evening in a sparkling ball gown. A most romantic and entrancing poem, and this is where Byron’s popularity lay. In the scintillating aspects of his poetry, prose, personal letters, and his own many love affairs, including the most torrid and the love of his life with his half sister Augusta Leigh. Together they could not stay apart physically, so after she became pregnant with his child she had to return to her own husband and children and play the dutiful wife, in order to continue to live in somewhat normal society that was still offered to her.
George Gordon Noel Byron, 6th baron Byron of Rochdale. Lord Byron b. January 22, 1788, d. April 19, 1824, was the quintessential poet of the romantic era. Born with a club foot, which was his bane through-out his life, but also prodded him to great feats of atheletcism. It seems that when faced with a challenge of what-ever kind he would not only overcome it but surmount it to majestic heights. Born to a title, but not wealth was also an aspect of his life, that would have undone another man, simply was an inconvenience to Byron. He really never faced the fact that he was indebted to so many people that allowed him to live a lifestyle that he could not have otherwise have afforded for someone born to his social standing.
The eighteenth century was a time for great literary works, and authors that would forge new trends in the publishing world. Among them was Shelley, Wordsworth, & Keats, but by far the brightest star was Byron. His immense popularity was in part due to his willingness to regale the ladies with sensual stories and prose. His most masterful poem was Don Juan but my favorite is his other masterpiece of “Childe Harold” who more resembles Lord Byron’s own adventures abroad.
Byron was the perfect, imperfect male that women just loved to try and change..and make him love them. He really could never love anyone, except himself and his half sister. He was such a scoundrel to his women, beginning with his mother. His mother allowed her son to get away without any responsibility and she did everything she could for him at the expense of her own living conditions to make sure George got what he wanted. Once he had fled his home and hearth, she was never to see him again. He was dutiful in his letter writing to her though, and his other friends which is a reason we know so much about his escapades.
Byron did make an effort of returning home to England to see his ill mother, whom had died just before he could get to her. While there and seeing to his finances he finally married, thinking that this would be a way out of some of his debt, and abate his desire and scandalous affair with his half sister Augusta, and restore his and Augusta’s reputation to their peers. It wasn’t long that his marriage failed due to his inability to deal with his continually incurring debt, and his volatile nature, and because he and Augusta couldn’t stay apart even during his marriage. He most likely was never a physical menace to his wife, but he was verbally abusive to her and when she finally couldn’t take it any longer she fled with their young daughter to her parents home. Later they were divorced against Byron’s wishes. He never liked being the one not in control and he was not happy that his daughter was not in his care. Once again, he found himself traveling abroad, this time to flee creditors, his marriage, and his love for Augusta, in that he wanted to bring her some peace from harassment.
Although Byron died young, as did some of his contemporaries such as Shelley, and Keats, he left behind an immense body of work, and personal letters. His memoirs were thrown into the fire by his associates and friends after his death, probably due the fact he didn’t hold back anything and told everything. He had a caustic tongue in his reviews of certain of his contemporaries, and of course his love for Augusta never dimmed.
His life has been told in countless biographies, and histories and volumes of his poetry have been published. Always popular and always the romantic rogue, I’m sure he would have thought it should be so.
This short essay only covers a minute portion of this notable mans life. I always wonder if he embodies a truly passionate personality that lived his life to the fullest.
If we look at his life, loves, obstacles, friends, followers, family, and legacy of work we certainly see a person that let his emotions rule him. The question then is, “did Lord Byron live his life in fulfillment, regardless what legacy of works he left for us”? Was he happy with his life’s choices?
He died young, at age 36 after being persuaded to go to Greece, with the thought that his title and famous exploits would help to free the Greek patriots from the Turks that ruled in Greece during that time. He contracted a fever and died before he saw any real progress while there. Although he did end up being one of the catalysts that helped to inspire the Greeks that saw them eventually rally and overcome their Turkish rulers after his death.
Does living a fulfilling life mean living a long life, filled with the usual markers of a well lived life? Or one filled with emotions, creative endeavors, and a zest for taking chances?
These are hard questions to answer. Happiness on a full time basis is just not possible. We all have to grapple with the more sorrowful side of life, and disappointments. So, by avoiding doing something because it may cause an upheaval or some strife in our life, is not by any means living life to the fullest.
How we live our life is based on the decisions we make. In living yours don’t be too careful in always choosing the most comfortable choice, you just may miss the one experience that could define you.
The following is the last stanza of a poem Byron wrote to his half-sister Augusta Leigh. For the rest and more works by Byron see the links that follow.
Epistle for Augusta
For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine;
We were and are–I am, even as thou art–
Beings who ne’er each other can resign;
It is the same, together or apart,
From life’s commencement to its slow decline
We are entwin’d–let death come slow or fast,
The tie which bound the first endures the last!