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Byron When We Two Parted Poem Analysis English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1130 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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I should note that this poem is often read as meaning that a prior secret lover has made a public fool of him- or herself, and is now being gossiped about in society. Friends discuss it openly in front of the speaker, not knowing of his past relationship, and it reopens all the wounds of the original separation. I should also note that I read this poem slightly differently, based on all the verbal cues that have to do with death, as meaning that the ex-lover is now dead, and is nevertheless the object of society’s ridicule as a result of a misspent life, and that the far-distant future meeting is in the afterlife. It’s supportable on the face of the poem, but isn’t, I believe, the traditional take on it. And that’s the beauty of poems- they are subject to individual interpretation.

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The poem is divided in four stanzas and each one in eight verses. The rhyme used by Byron follows this structure: abab cdcd efef ghgh ijij klkl mnmn kbkb. Separating each stanza in four verses, we have the rhyme more clear, each even verse and each odd verse rhyme with its equivalent even or odd verse. This structure gives to the poem a lot of rythm, giving the sensation of musicality.


In this poem it is too difficult to find rhetorical figures, due to the most important of all the poem is the strength of the words. Despite of this, it can be seen, for example, in the third line a metaphor: “half broken-hearted”; the poet is expressing us how he and his lover feel when they are two parted.

Another striking thing found in the poem is the second part of the fourth stanza. It is the only stanza which repeats the rhyme of other verses and not just the rhyme, but the word itself. E.g. “(4) To sever for years/ (30)After long years”. If we pay attention, there is also a correspondence of meaning, in the first stanza Byron is telling they are going to sever for years and in the last stanza he is thinking of what he will do when they remeet. With the other two verses is the same, at the first part: “(2)In silence and tears” is how they react when they are two parted, and in the last part of the poem: “(32)With silence and tears” is how he is going to have to greet her since they did not meet.


The poem, as I said before, is divided in four stanzas, and each stanza talks about different visions of this love separation.

On the whole, the poem is all the time giving the feeling of the pain that the poet has due to the separation of the two lovers; what we cannot know is if the separation is because of death or maybe because “she” split up with him.

In the first stanza the poet begins with the main topic, remembering the separation of the two lovers, how they felt: “half broken-hearted” , showing his pain. Also he expresses the idea of what we think that this separation is due to the death of his lover with the metaphor of : “Pale grew thy cheek and cold,/colder thy kiss”. All that sorrounds her is cold, and this cold is a perfect form to express the death in contrast with the warm involving the life.

Following with the poem, in the second stanza it can be found the relation of colder morning with the pain that the poet is feeling. Also another time we can see that his lover is dead: “thy vows are all broken”. Then, it follow with the shame that feels the poet when he hears her name; maybe shame because their relation was a sin. This idea will be developed later with some comments of people that “she” was a married woman.

The third stanza contains strong vocabulary showing again that “she” is dead: “A knell to mine ear; A shudder comes o’er me”.These two verses remain to the sounds of the bells of a funeral, using the appropriated word “Knell”. Also he asked himself why he loved her so, and people who knew her well do not know any relation between them. Maybe that people who knew her well could be her family and husband.

At the last stanza the poet is remembering when they met and transmits us a feeling of hope: “If I should meet thee”. Maybe life exists before death and they can reopen their love, and the poet also tell us how they greet: “With silence and tears”.

Some researches say that the person who was addressed this poem is Lady Frances Webster (married woman) and a last stanza was left out to keep the identity of the woman a secret. It was discover when Byron wrote a letter to his cousin Lady Hardy giving her of the last stanza:

Then — fare thee well — Fanny —

Now doubly undone —

To prove false unto many —

As faithless to One —

Thou art past all recalling

Even would I recall —

For the woman once falling

Forever must fall. –



“When we two parted” is included in the historical movement of Romanticism which is “an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated around the middle of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution.”(4)

i[1]During the 19th century Britain was transformed by the Industrial Revelution. Maybe this poem has nothing of realtion with these transformations, but if we consider that in these times people had to work a lot and maybe the husband of Lady Webster spent a lot of time doing business, she probably had more freedom and she felt alone and the solution was to find a lover.

Moreover, unfaithfulness is a topic of all the times and the separation of two lovers due to death or for something else happens then, now and after. For that reason we can consider that this poem of pain is a poem for all the times.


As I said before, this poem perfectly can be described for people of nowadays, due to Byron expresses wonderfully what people feel when the person they love splits up with them or dies. This is a feeling of all the epochs and centuries, the loneliness and pain provoked by the missing of the person who loves.

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The poet has also a relation with today, Byron has returned as a figure of great consequence, this is an historical fate to be welcomed. Now he is more appreciated than in his times, because unless in his time he was famous, he was perjudicated by his type of life, having problems with alcohol and women. But now he was recognised as one of the most representative writers of the Romanticism.


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