George Gordon, Lord Byron
Byron was born in London in 1788.He was a descend of a Norman family. He inherited from his parents instability and rebellion and from his governess the Calvinistic idea of predestination to sin and damnation. He was born lame and this gave him a deep sense of inferiority. Then he studied at Harrow and Cambridge while here he published “hours of Idleness” a collection of short poems which was very criticized and he replied at this criticisms with his satirical poem “English Bards and Scottish reviewers” . Then he took his seats in the house of Lords but soon he preferred to make a tour which led him in various places. In 1815, when he returned in England, he married Anna Isabella Milbank, but his violent and eccentric conduct and his love for his half sister Augusta made the marriage unhappy. So lady Byron left London demanding a request of separation from her husband and Byron was forced to leave England. So he settled first in Geneva near the Shelley’s and while here he had a love affair with Claire Clermont. Then he went in Italy and he had a relationship with Countess Guiccioli, a young married lady who was his mistress for about 4 years and she introduced him in the carbonary conspiracy against the Austrians but the conspiracy failed. He became also a supporter of the Greek campaign against Turkish domination. So he spent his life in the campaign and died in 1824 at Missolonghi with a fever.
Byron’s literary production consist of lyric, verse dramas, satirical verse and narrative verse. For the lyrics we have “Hours of Idleness” a collection of short poems on the theme of love and boyhood. His verse tales are Lara, The Corsair and The siege of Corinth all included in the Oriental Tales and the Prisoner of Chillon, inspired by the imprisonment of a Genovois monk, François Bonivard. His verse dramas are “Manfred” that was partly autobiographical in the portrait of Manfred and “Sardanapalus”. Then we have an autobiographical poem “Childe Harold’s pilgrimage” in four cantos. Is based on Byron’s travels and the protagonist represent another version of the Byronic hero, moody and solitaire. In the satirical verse we have “English bards and Scottish reviewers” and Don Juan, a satire in ottava rima. Juan is a Spanish nobleman who is been seduced by a married lady and so he excape from the vengeance of her husband.
Byron is considered a romantic and a satirical poet. His characteristics as a romantic poet are: his life full of romantic travels and love affair, his worship of liberty, his titanism, his Satanism exemplified in the admiration of Milton’s satan, his taste for exoticism and his approach to nature in fact he saw nature as a reflection of himself, he was attracted by wild scenes of nature such as hurricanes, storms and dark oceans. His characteristics as a non romantic poet are in his criticism of society in his sense of fun and in his mock-heroic attitude. Byron was influenced in the use of the ottava rima by the Italian writers Pulci and Casti. He was the inventor of the half serious rhyme and this was congenial to his own mood.