Sunday, August 7, 2011

Magpie 77

It’s a poignant scene, this week’s Magpie prompt. I imagined it as a couple breaking up.
And the words of the poet Lord Byron came flooding back:

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

In secret we met—
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.

What a man was Byron, what an incredible life. In the early years of the 19th century he was what can only be described as a scoundrel and a rake, running up huge debts and chasing women -- though all the while turning out the magnificent poetry that even today causes him to be regarded as one of the greatest British poets.
Lord Byron was not just a leading figure in the movement known as Romanticism, he was romanticism itself. He travelled, as an idealist, to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence.

But it’s his adventures with women that I find interesting. As far as I can see, he could not resist going after them, whatever their social status, married or single, and they, in so many cases – even those who despised him – often couldn’t resist him.

His mother wrote to a friend about her son: “He has no indisposition that I know of but love, the worst of all maladies in my opinion.”

After his well-publicized affairs with a number of ladies of high social position, he had an even more well-publicized affair with the married Lady Caroline Lamb that shocked the British public.

She wrote: “He is mad, bad and dangerous to know.” He then broke off with her – (“When we two parted”?) -- to begin a relationship with Lady Oxford; Lady Caroline did not give up easily. She did what we today would call stalking. She would show up at his home dressed as a messenger boy just to get near him again.
Rubbing salt in the sore wound, Byron then went after Lady Caroline’s cousin, Anne Milbanke. She was something special. She was a beautiful, highly intelligent woman (some say she was a mathematical genius), and she was also an heiress. He of course treated her badly and the marriage was very unhappy. If any man today ever wonders why the movement known as feminism came into being, it’s surely because of stories like these.

After his disreputable adventures with members of the opposite sex, Byron left England. When he arrived in Greece, he assumed command of part of the army, even though he had no military experience. He had acquired an appropriately colorful uniform, above. Before the expedition could sail for the war in February of 1824, he fell ill. The usual remedy of bloodletting, along with the unsterilized medical instruments, were enough to kill him.
George Gordon, 6th Baron Byron, was indeed a scoundrel, but he was capable of some truly beautiful poetry.


waysidewordgarden said...

The poem suits the picture well, and I much enjoyed the poem as well as the bio on Lord Byron...took me back to Lit class and so much I have forgotten. Excellent!

Leslie: said...

Wonderful way to connect the picture to the poet. Do you think she is breaking up with him? Or he with her? (in the picture)

Tumblewords: said...

A veritable skirt chaser with the ability to use words for seduction...a very fine post!

annell said...

Thank you for the post. I found it very interesting! What a naughty man!

Brigid said...

All the ladies like a bad boy, certainly true in his case, such a great post.

Mary said...

Ah, you looked at it as a couple breaking up. I looked upon it as a couple just getting together. I appreciated your different perspective, written from looking at the same painting!

signed...bkm said...

Ahhhhh- Byron My Lord...what words of it your calling or be it your duty? the romantics Berowne...thank you for the treat..bkm

Everyday Goddess said...

I think I fell in love with him too.

chiccoreal said...

Dear Berowne: Poor Lord Byron, like all Don Juans in history, he tried too hard to master the concept of follow his leader. Unfortunately that being said he did reveal his base instincts. Ideally Romance in the Romantic movement sense of the word, is not about machismo or rakish conquest. Rather Romance's lofty idealisms found in the spiritually-based chilvarous love.

kaykuala said...

Parting is sad in whatever situations, more so between endearing ones. While Lord Byron wrote a classic he did follow his heart instead , a union and a parting many times.

Pat said...

Thank you for the poem which I wasn't familiar with. Perfect - and will replace Andrew Marvell's 'Definition of Love,' in my treasure chest.

Berowne said...

Pat: "Thank you for the poem which I wasn't familiar with. Perfect."
And I thank you for your perfect comment. :-)

Berowne said...

Everyday G.: "I think I fell in love with him too."
Careful - such men are dangerous. :-)

Berowne said...

Wonderful to hear from friends like Pat, kaykuala, choccoreal, bkm, Mary, Brigid, annell, Tumblew., Leslie and waysidewordg.

Linda R. said...

What an interesting lesson in history and an insight to one of the world's great poets.

Doctor FTSE said...

That rascal Byron also penned -

"For the sword outwears its sheath
and the soul wears out the breast,
and the heart must pause to grieve
and love itself must rest . . "

Best thanks. Berowne, for another informative piece. Always learn something of value here so the visit is never wasted.

jabblog said...

Teaching without being pedantic is a gift - and one that you have.

Berowne said...

Great quote from Byron, Doc FTSE. Thanks.

Francisca said...

I can think of a few modern-day brilliant men caught with their pants down with too many women who deserve the same ignominious and untimely end as Lord Byron. Great post, Berowne!

Berowne said...

Francisca: "Great post, Berowne!"
Great comment, Francisca!

ds said...

A scoundrel, a rake, yet a writer of great beauty. What are we to do about him? Thank you for the excellent bio, Berowne. As always, you enlighten as you entertain.

Bee's Blog said...

A cad comes to mind. An admirer of his poem but not of his lifestyle!

Nice piece I like you, saw a disaster rather than a happy ending.

Berowne said...

Always great to hear from ds and Bee's Blog - thanks.

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