Item description for Selected Poetry of Lord Byron (Modern Library Classics) by George G. Byron, Leslie a. Marchand & Thomas M. Disch...
Overview Presents a collection of Lord Byron's poetry, including "Manfred," "Childe Harold," and "Don Juan."
Publishers Description Poet, celebrity, and revolutionary, Lord (George Gordon) Byron was one of the most influential and controversial figures of the first half of the nineteenth century, his distinctive, deeply felt work comprising one of the enduring high points of Romantic literature. From “Manfred,” with its evocation of the figure that came to be called the “Byronic hero,” to the melancholy “Childe Harold,” to the satirical masterpiece “Don Juan” (presented here in judiciously selected form), this Modern Library Paperback Classic includes all of the essential Byron.
“His capricious imagination rises . . . to heights that none can reach without wings.”—Victor Hugo Leslie A. Marchand, one of the foremost Byron scholars of the twentieth century, was general editor of the authoritative twelve-volume edition of Byron's Letters and Journals.
Thomas M. Disch is the author of ten books of poetry and more than fifteen novels, including, most recently, Camp Concentration. He lives in upstate New York.
It would have pleased Lord Byron to know that, having been the most renowned, imitated, and execrated of the major romantic poets, he is now, almost two centuries later, the least honored and the most ignored and deplored of that select few. For he thrived on giving of-fense. He was a sexy, swaggering contrarian whose wisecrack answer to the earnest inquiry of Concerned Virtue, “What are you rebelling against?” would have been the same as Marlon Brando's: “What have ya got?”
As with Brando, behind the mask of the rebel shaking his fist at prim respectability was the furrowed brow of a sensitive guy not afraid to cry, a misunderstood teenage werewolf or, better yet, a vampire—a possibility he darkly hinted at in his letters.* Byron pictured himself (under the alias of Childe Harold) wandering about the Alps at mid-night alternately exulting in thunderstorms and crying tears of secret melancholy. Generations of readers have thrilled with a sympathetic vibration to that particular passage (“Child Harold, Canto 3, stanzas xcii–xcvii). But the storm passes and the poet moves to other scenes, other feelings, other roles. He roars at the ocean—a splendid roar (Canto 4, stanza clxxix); he luxuriates among the odalisques of his harem or runs off with someone else's, then addresses songs to her— such songs! lyrics of irresistible seductiveness—following which he joins his gentlemen friends for brandy and cigars and brags to them of his exploits on the tilting grounds of love, a perfect cad. Those who prize sincerity in poets and would hold them to their word, as to a marriage vow, cannot but take exception to such will-o'-the- wisp fickleness of purpose. That was the Prosecution's chief charge against Lord Byron back when; that is its charge now. And now it is a graver charge, for the one sin a poet cannot be forgiven in our age is lying in the confessional of his poetry. Read any of his poems titled “Stanzas for Music”; for instance, the one that begins:
I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name, There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame: But the tear which now burns on my cheek may impart The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart.
The sound is so smooth that the comma-spliced phrases glide by almost without making sense. Indeed, some of his best-loved lyrics don't bear thinking about at all. “She walks in Beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies.” What or who is being likened to the night, she or beauty?
To ask such a question is to be deaf to the poem. As well ask the meaning of the viola's recurring theme in Berlioz's Harold in Italy, or of a kiss. Byron's love lyrics are pure blarney, part of the apparatus of seduction of the nineteenth century's most accomplished make-out artist. One doesn't ask for good sense from such entertainers but rather intoxication, which together with love is one of the favorite themes of their songs. “Oh, Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” an internationally popular song of Byron's time, was written by Thomas Moore, his best friend, professional rival, biographer, and literary executor, and it was the beau ideal and bull's-eye of poetic aspiration: a “parlor song” of lilting melody, elegant diction, sweet sentimentality, and unexceptionable good taste. Moore, who was also an accomplished performer, was the most successful purveyor of such goods in the early Romantic era, but Byron wrote a couple of dozen almost as endearing and enduring, including one addressed to Moore himself, which he wrote, drunk, on a Carnival night in Venice:
So we'll go no more a-roving So late into the night, Though the heart be still as loving, And the moon be still as bright. For the sword outwears its sheath, And the soul wears out the breast, And the heart must pause to breathe, And Love itself have rest. Though the night was made for loving, And the day returns too soon, Yet we'll go no more a-roving By the light of the moon.
* Recently that hint has been taken up by the novelist Tom Holland, who has portrayed Byron as a vampire in his three horror novels, Lord of the Dead, Slave of My Thirst, and Deliver Us from Evil.
Citations And Professional Reviews Selected Poetry of Lord Byron (Modern Library Classics) by George G. Byron, Leslie a. Marchand & Thomas M. Disch has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 825
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Studio: Modern Library
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8" Width: 5.2" Height: 1.4" Weight: 1.15 lbs.
Release Date Apr 9, 2002
Publisher Modern Library
ISBN 0375758143 ISBN13 9780375758140
Availability 0 units.
More About George G. Byron, Leslie a. Marchand & Thomas M. Disch
Leslie A. Marchand, one of the foremost Byron scholars of the twentieth century, was general editor of the authoritative twelve-volume edition of Byron's Letters and Journals. Thomas M. Disch is the author of ten books of poetry and more than fifteen novels, including, most recently, Camp Concentration. He lives in upstate New York.
Reviews - What do customers think about Selected Poetry of Lord Byron (Modern Library Classics)?
A Near- Great poet Mar 9, 2008
I'll start off by saying that this is an excellent selection of Byron's poems, from my view, so the rating applies only to Byron's merits as a poet.
Byron is somebody who was ALMOST a great poet. He has some really good poems, some poems of true greatness, comparable to his superiors (Keats, Wordsworth, Blake, to limit myself to the Romantics), but he wrote a lot of crap too. Some of these poems are almost laughably bad, others are profound.
I didn't always think this. Back in high school, Lord Byron was by far my favourite poet. In fact, he was the first poet I ever liked, which speaks to his enchanting power over those who have yet been introduced to many poets. As time went on, and I began to read his better contemporaries (mentioned above) and poets of other eras who tower over him, his spell began to wane, and I began to view him as I view him now: as a poet who might have been great, but never quite got there.
Nonetheless, I recommend him, as he does have poems of value, and is good for studying the time period. Read him before you read the other Romantics (except Shelley, of whom I have never been that big a fan, though I admit I have yet to really read into him); reading him after becoming familiar with them will spoil your love for him! After you have read him, if you find him to your taste, read some Keats or Wordsworth for comparison. If you don't find him to your taste, read Keats or Wordsworth anyways. You will find in either case that there is an extra spark of magic in these latter two that is not present in Lord Byron.