Lord Byron, 1788 to 1824. The man died 187 years ago. If I go to Google and search on Bryon, just the man’s title, nearly all the hits are about him. Here’s a link: search for Byron Note, if you will, that ALL the images that show up on this search result are, in fact, of Lord Byron. If you click on the images link, you’ll see that Lord Byron is STILL the predominant Byron image with some posers in there. (Who do they think they are?)

That’s a powerful name. For us in the English speaking world that’s something.

Since April is National Poetry Month, here’s a little Bryon, first the familiar, then something perhaps a little less familiar.


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 mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired 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!

The Destruction of Sennacherib

 Lord Byron
   The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

   Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

   For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

   And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

   And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

   And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Sometimes it feels as if Byron is the only poet of the Regency, his legacy and wicked personal history looms so large. But of course there was that Wordsworth fellow who wrote a poem or two, and his sister Dorothy. Not to mention Keats and Shelly. But what about this one?

Perplexity: A Poem

Elizabeth Hands

Ye tender young virgins attend to my lay,
   My heart is divided in twain;
My Collin is beautiful, witty, and gay,
   And Damon’s a kind-hearted swain.

Whenever my lovely young Collin I meet,
   What pleasures arise in my breast;
The dear gentle swain looks so charming and sweet,
   I fancy I love him the best.

But when my dear Damon does to me complain,
   So tender, so loving and kind,
My bosom is softened to hear the fond swain,
   And Collin slips out of my mind.

Whenever my Damon repeats his soft tale,
   My heart overflows with delight;
But when my dear Collin appears in the vale,
   I languish away at the sight.

’Tis Collin alone shall possess my fond heart,
   Now Damon for ever adieu;
But can I? — I cannot from Damon thus part!
   He’s loved me so long, and so true.

My heart to my Damon I’ll instantly bind,
   And on him will fix all my care;
But, O should I be to my Collin unkind,
   He surely will die with despair.

How happy, how happy with Damon I’d been,
   If Collin I never had knew;
As happy with Collin, if I’d never seen
   My Damon, so tender and true.

 I particularly like this last poem because it works so well to explode the very prevalent notion we seem to have that women of the period were dis-passionate creatures who would NEVER have two lovers and be unable to so delightfully decide between them. And hint, all the while, of passion.