Byron, Childe Harold III

page references are to the Wu Anthology

672 1 addresses Ada  
672-4 2-7 Byron / Harold: ageing, alienated, self-troubling outlaw of his own dark mind (20)
674-5 8-11 Harold's history; inured to pain a chain / Which galled for ever (77-8)
675-6 12-16 becomes an exile; consolation of nature; a wanderer a wild-born falcon with clipped wing (129)
676-81 17-35 Waterloo: evening before; the battle  
682-4 36-45 character of Napoleon a fever at the core, / Fatal to him who bears (377-8)
684-6 46-51 journey down the middle Rhine; its castles  
686-7 52-55 Harold's ability to love (ref. to Augusta) sweet trust / In one fond breast (475-6)
687-8 55 ff. to Drachenfels castle  
688-90 56-61 the Rhine at Coblentz, Ehrenbreitstein  
690-92 62-68 approach to Switzerland: Morat, Avenches, Lake Geneva  
692-4 69-75 justifies isolation, participatory relation to nature I become / Portion of that around me (680-1)
694-7 76-84 on Rousseau, his passion; Julie; influence on French Revolution Kindled he was, and blasted (736)
697-701 85-97 quiet of Lake Geneva, night on lake; thunderstorm Then stirs the feeling infinite (842)
701-04 98-104 Clarens, scenery of love this is Love's recess (962)
704-05 105-08 Gibbon, Voltaire  
705-07 109-14 turns to scenery; his change, isolation to steel / The heart against itself (1034-5)
707-08 115-18 address to Ada  

Some comments

Harold Bloom. The Visionary Company. London: Faber & Faber, 1962.

On stanza 42:

Unlike Wordsworth but like Shelley, he [Byron] seeks the summits of nature not for their own sake but because they show 'how Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man below' [III, 598]. Nor does Byronic solitude much resemble the Wordsworthian kind. Wordsworth goes apart the better to hear humanity's still sad music emanate from nature. Byron desires to be alone that he may 'love Earth only for its earthly sake' [III, 672]. If he lives not in himself, it is only to become a portion of the Nature around him, and so to evade the burden of being a man, 'a link reluctant in a fleshly chain' [III, 685]. (235)

Discussion of Byron's treatment of Rousseau:

Every element given to man is simultaneously a way to moral greatness and divine blessing, and also a quicker way to self-deception and damnation. Every human act that widens consciousness increases both exaltation and despair. No other poet has insisted on maintaining both views with equal vigor, and one can wonder if Byron ever justifies his deliberate moral confusion by fully converting its aesthetic consequences into personal myth. (236)

Bernard Blackstone. Byron: A Survey. London: Longman, 1975.

Byron's feeling for Nature, and his modes of writing about it, seem to me to stand as the antipodes of Wordsworth's. Wordsworth, that 'solemn and unsexual man' [Peter Bell the Third, 551], as Shelley calls him, is concerned with excluding anything suggesting the erotic from his picture of cosmic happenings: the various revisions of The Prelude, among other evidence, make this abundantly clear. With Byron, on the other hand, the erotic, the physically warm, vigorous, interpenetrative, fruitful, sensually exciting, is the very mainspring of the universe. (190)

On stanza 85, Blackstone:

We note that Byron, as always, is in transit. He is not merely contemplating the lake, he is sailing upon it, hearing the sounds of its 'soft murmuring' like 'a Sister's voice', watching its gentle breeze fill his 'quiet sail'. There is a real give and take with his context. No philosophising, simply the openness to influence. (192-3)

E. D. Hirsch. Jr. "Byron and the Terrestrial Paradise." Byron's Poetry. Frank D. McConnell, Ed. New York: Norton, 1978. 442-458.

Travel is the structural principle ... It symbolises the restless movement of the spirit from object to object, as well as the writing of a poem that has no fixed plan. The very unfixedness of the goal permits the pilgrimage to continue.

Nail Bezel, "Sense of Place and Displacement in Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage."

Childe Byron writes as he lives. See, that is what humanity does, or rather that is what planet earth does. See, that is what the universe does on planet earth. All right, all this is ad infinitum. See see, it is a working metaphor, for you live and all that and write, that is, express yourself, as you move along, as you live along.

divine wanderer: see useful comments by Jack Lynch, relating Childe Harold to Frankenstein.

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Document created March 17th 2003