(George Gordon; London, Great Britain, 1788 – Missolonghi, now Greece, 1824) British poet who is among the most emblematic representatives of European romanticism. Belonging to a family of the aristocracy of his country, he lost his father at the age of three. In 1798, on the death of his great-uncle William, 5th Baron Byron, he inherited his title and estates.
Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (a stage in which he curiously distinguished himself as an athlete, despite having a club foot from birth), Lord Byron lived a youth embittered by his limp and by the tutelage of a mother with an irritable temperament. At eighteen he published his first book of poetry, Idle Hours , and an adverse review in the Edinburgh Review prompted his violent satire entitled English Bards and Scottish Critics , with which he achieved some notoriety.
In 1809, when he was declared of legal age, Lord Byron undertook a series of trips in which he toured Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey. On his return he published, as a poetic memoir of his journey, the first two canticles of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage , which quickly earned him fame. The hero of the poem, Childe Harold, seems to be based on autobiographical elements, although undoubtedly recreated and increased to configure what would be the typical Byronic hero -whom he himself tried to emulate in his life-, characterized by rebellion against morality. and the established conventions and marked by a vague nostalgia and exaltation of feelings, especially the suffering for an indeterminate original sin.
In 1815 he married Anna Isabella Mibanke, with whom he had a daughter, Augusta Ada, although they separated after a year. The libertine and amoral character that Lord Byron embodied in society ended up turning against him, especially after the rumors about his incestuous relationship with his stepsister Augusta, for which he ended up leaving the United Kingdom in 1816, never to return. ever and become a wandering poet in Europe.
In Switzerland, where he had come from Belgium, Lord Byron lived with the poet Shelley and had an affair with Claire Clairmont. After a stay in Genoa, he moved to Venice, where he began, in 1819, a new and turbulent love affair with the Countess Guiccioli and led a lavish life dotted with scandals; he later he went to Ravenna.
At this time he finished the fourth canto of Childe Harold and his Manfred (1817), which allowed him to correspond with Goethe , who would say that he was the «first talent of his century». In 1819 he began his famous Don Juan , considered by many to be his best work, in which he recreates the mythical character in a tone that oscillates between gravity and irony. In 1822, together with the poets Shelley and Leigh Hunt, he founded the magazine The Liberal in Pisa, whose publication was immediately interrupted due to the former’s death and Byron’s dispute with Hunt.
Increasingly oriented towards the liberal cause, in 1823, following the rebellion of the Greeks against the Turks, Lord Byron recruited a regiment for the cause of Greek independence, contributed significant financial sums and met with the insurgents in July 1823 in Missolonghi. He died of a fever in this same city shortly after, at thirty-six years of age.
The fame that it enjoyed in its time has been greatly reduced with the passing of the years and the increase in historical perspective. The literary value and above all the innovative character of his lyrical compositions have been discussed, while his versifying ease and his agile and incisive expression maintain the interest of his satires and narrative compositions. Byron embodied for his contemporaries the ideal of the romantic hero, both in his work and in his life, and as such he was considered and admired by many writers, José de Espronceda and Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer among them.
-Fame is the thirst of youth.
-What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.
-Who tracks the steps of glory to the grave?
-He who surpasses or subdues mankind, must look down on the hate of those below.
-There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.
-I can’t but say it is an awkward sight to see one’s native land receding through the growing waters; it unmans one quite, especially when life is rather new.
-Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.
-Sorrow is knowledge, those that know the most must mourn the deepest, the tree of knowledge is not the tree of life.
-Prolonged endurance tames the bold.
-Smiles form the channels of a future tear.
-Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure; Men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.
-If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom.
-Men are the sport of circumstances when it seems circumstances are the sport of men.
-I know that two and two make four – and should be glad to prove it too if I could – though I must say if by any sort of process I could convert 2 and 2 into five it would give me much greater pleasure.
-In England the only homage which they pay to Virtue – is hypocrisy.
-To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.
-Man’s conscience is the oracle of God.
-I have no consistency, except in politics; and that probably arises from my indifference to the subject altogether.
-Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.
-There is something pagan in me that I cannot shake off. In short, I deny nothing, but doubt everything.
-Death, so called, is a thing which makes men weep, And yet a third of life is passed in sleep.
-Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; the best of life is but intoxication.
-For truth is always strange; stranger than fiction.
-They never fail who die in a great cause.
-Between two worlds life hovers like a star, twixt night and morn, upon the horizon’s verge.
-One certainly has a soul; but how it came to allow itself to be enclosed in a body is more than I can imagine. I only know if once mine gets out, I’ll have a bit of a tussle before I let it get in again to that of any other.
-Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure.
-Who loves, raves.
-‘Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming, and look brighter when we come.
-The poor dog, in life the firmest friend. The first to welcome, foremost to defend.
-Absence – that common cure of love.
-What a strange thing man is; and what a stranger thing woman.
-There is no such thing as a life of passion any more than a continuous earthquake, or an eternal fever. Besides, who would ever have themselves in such a state?
-“Lovers may be – and indeed generally are – enemies, but they never can be friends, because there must always be a spice of jealousy and a something of Self in all their speculations.
-Friendship is Love without his wings!
-I am sure of nothing so little as my own intentions.
-Man’s love is of man’s life a part; it is a woman’s whole existence. In her first passion, a woman loves her lover, in all the others all she loves is love.
-Friendship may, and often does, grow into love, but love never subsides into friendship.
-Self-love for ever creeps out, like a snake, to sting anything which happens to stumble upon it.
-Sometimes we are less unhappy in being deceived by those we love, than in being undeceived by them.