George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Things to Consider:
- Byronic Hero
- History and Politics
- Narrator / Persona
- The Sublime
- Horatian satire
- Spenserian Stanza
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
- What are the characteristics of the Byronic Hero?
from Canto Three (1816):
- Whom is the speaker addressing in the first stanza?
- Explain stanza 6 ("'Tis to create, and in creating
- Explain: "Life's enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim"
- Explain stanza 17 ("Stop!--for thy tread is on an Empire's
- Describe the speaker's attitude toward Napoleon. In what
ways is he, as the footnote suggests, portrayed as a Byronic
- Explain stanza 72 ("I live not in myself, but I
become/Portion of that around me"). Does
it express a Wordsworthian view? Explain.
- Describe the speaker's attitude to Nature during the
thunderstorm depicted in stanzas 92-96.
- How does the speaker present himself as a poet in stanza 97
("Could I embody and unbosom now/That which is most within
- Describe the speaker's attitude to the world in stanzas
Other Discussion Questions:
- Why, according to the editors, did Byron's position within the
canon of English Romantic poetry become insecure during the
- Explain: "Byron cultivated a skepticism about established
systems of belief that, in its restlessness and defiance,
expressed the intellectual and social ferment of his era"
- Explain: "Although Byronism was largely a fiction, ... the
fiction was historically more important than the actual
- Describe the circumstances
surrounding Byron's final departure from England.
- Describe Byron's relationship with Teresa Guiccioli.
- Describe the Pisan circle.
- Explain the simile at the end of the second stanza.
- How, according to the speaker, has he changed since his
youth? See also stanza 7.
- Explain how Harold has changed in stanza 10.
- Why does Harold consider himself unfit "to herd with Man"
in stanza 12?
- Describe Harold's relationship with Nature in stanzas
- Explain: "He wears the shatter'd links of the world's
broken chain" (3.162).
- Explain: "[M]en's thoughts were the steps that paved thy
- Explain: "[Q]uiet to quick bosoms is a hell" (3.370).
- Explain: "One breast laid open were a school/Which would
unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule" (3.386-87).
- Explain stanza 45 ("He who ascends to mountain-tops ...").
- Explain: "There is too much of man here, to look
through/With a fit mind the might which I behold" (3.648-9).
Is this a Wordsworthian view of Nature? Explain.
- Describe the speaker's final address to his daughter.