One of the most famous work of Lord Byron became the poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, which is a lyrical diary, in which the poet expressed his attitude to life, gave his assessment of his era, European countries, the social conflict in the society. The poem was created during the international trip of Byron in 1809 – 1811, and reflects the poet’s experience of visiting Spain, Albania, Greece. The first two songs were published in England in 1812, and had a great success. By genre features this is a lyric-epic poem, written in the form of poetic travel diary.
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The poem presents a new type of hero of the romantic literature: Childe Harold is a dreamer, who breaks with the hypocritical society, has a reflective character and critically analyzes his inner experiences and emotions. Obsessed with the desire to escape from usual lifestyle, disappointed and irreconcilable, Childe Harold rushes in distant countries. Active introspection makes him passive in the practical sphere, as all his attention is absorbed by the emotions, and he only contemplates something new that comes before his eyes during the voyages. His grief has no specific reason, it is the outlook of a man living in a confused state of the world. Childe Harold does not fight, he just looks closely to the modern world, trying to understand its tragic condition.
The plot of the poem is associated with wanderings of the hero, with the development of feelings and views of Childe Harold. It is possible to assume that the image of Harold is close to the author with some biographical facts, loneliness, escape from high society, a protest against the hypocrisy of modern England. The poem is filled with civil pathos, which is caused by an appeal to magnificent events of the time.
What beauties doth Lisboa, first unfold!
Her image floating on that noble tide,
Which poets vainly pave with sands of gold,
But now whereon a thousand keels did ride
Of mighty strength, since Albion was allied,
And to the Lusians did her aid afford:
A nation swoln with ignorance and pride,
Who lick yet loathe the hand that waves the sword
To save them from the wrath of Gaul’s unsparing lord.
(Cante I, XVI)
In the first and second songs a significant role plays the theme of civil disobedience and uprising, as the poet praises the liberation movement of the peoples of Spain and Greece. Here can be found occasional, but spectacular images of ordinary people, for example the poet created a heroic image of Spanish woman, involved in the protection of Saragossa.
Such be the sons of Spain, and strange her fate!
They fight for freedom who were never free,
A Kingless people for a nerveless state;
Her vassals combat when their chieftains fleeâ€¦ (Cante I,)
Then heroic stanza are replaced with sarcastic ones, in which the poet condemns British policy on the Iberian Peninsula and Greece, where instead of using the Greek people in their struggle for liberation, Britain is engaged in plundering the country, exporting national treasures from it.
Heroic theme of the poem is primarily connected with the image of people in revolt, Spanish and Greek patriots. Byron feels a freedom-loving aspirations of the people are, and sees that those people are capable of heroic struggle. The epic content of popular struggle is revealed primarily through the author’s emotional attitude. Movement from the lyrical theme of lonely hero to the epic theme of people’s struggle is given as change of emotional spheres of the hero and the author, without synthesis between the epic and lyric parts.
Appeal to the significant social facts of his time gives
Byron reason to call the poem political, and review of historically significant events prepares the philosophical thoughts on the essence of historical development. The main idea of â€‹â€‹the poem is the apotheosis of popular indignation against the tyranny of the masses of the revolutionary law.
In the third and fourth songs the image of the hero is gradually replaced with the author thoughts, these songs are built as a lyrical meditation on life, in which the author’s voice sounds stronger, more directly expressed relation to modernity. The poet expresses thoughts about the central event of his era – the French bourgeois revolution, in which “mankind has realized its power”, about the great educators Rousseau and Voltaire, who participated with their ideas in preparation for revolution.
In the fourth song, Byron wrote about the fate of Italy, its history and culture, about sufferings of the Italian people. In the poem is expressed the idea of â€‹â€‹the need to fight for the freedom of Italy, and also created a metaphorical image of the “tree of liberty.”
The image of nature in the fourth song is filled with the idea of movement and struggle. The idea of â€‹â€‹the struggle for freedom, the idea of â€‹â€‹retribution is expressed in the form of the sea.
The moon is up, and yet it is not night;
Sunset divides the sky with her; a sea
Of glory streams along the Alpine height
Of blue Friuli’s mountains; Heaven is free
From clouds, but of all colours seems to be, –
Melted to one vast Iris of the West, –
Where the Day joins the past Eternity,
While, on the other hand, meek Dian’s crest
Floats through the azure air – an island of the blest!
(Canto IV, XXVII)
The essence of a free form of the romantic poem “Pilgrimage of Childe Harold ” is in its stylistic change of colors and tonalities: lyricism, meditation, in flexibility and multi verse. The style of the poem is filled with energy and dynamism, chiaroscuro and passion appeals. All these qualities of style of “Childe Harold” correspond to the civilian pathos of the poem, its modern political content.
My task is done, my song hath ceased, my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted dream.
(Canto IV, CLXXXV)
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