The poet now known as Lord Byron was born George Gordon Noel Byron, 6th Baron Byron, on January 22, 1788 in London. He died April 19, 1824 in Missolonghi, Greece. His cause of death was fever and exposure when he was fighting for Greek independence. Byron’s peers included Percy Shelley and John Keats. He was also a poet and occasional satirist. His two main works are Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-18) and Don Juan (1819).


 portrait of Lord Byron in Albanian dress by Thomas Phillips, c1835


Lord Byron in Albanian dress by Thomas Phillips, c. 1835 (courtesy of



Prometheus (1816)
George Gordon, Lord Byron


Titan! To whose immortal eyes
   The sufferings of mortality,
   Seen in their sad reality,

Were not as things that gods despise;
What was thy pity’s recompense?
A silent suffering, and intense;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
All that the proud can feel of pain,

The agony they do not show,

The suffocating sense of woe,

   Which speaks but in its loneliness,

And then is jealous lest the sky

Should have a listener, nor will sigh

   Until its voice is echoless.


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Titan! To thee the strife was given

   Between the suffering and the will,

   Which torture where they cannot kill;

And the inexorable Heaven,


 In this illustration from a 17th century Icelandic manuscript Heimdallr is shown guarding the gate of Valhalla. 


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And the deaf tyranny of fate,

The ruling principle of hate,

Which for its pleasure doth create

The things it may annihilate,

Refused thee even the boon to die:
The wretched gift eternity



Was thine—and thou hast borne it well.
All that the Thunderer wrung from thee


Statue of ZeusPhidias created the 12-m (40-ft) tall statue of Zeus at Olympia about 435 BC. The statue was perhaps the most famous sculpture in ancient Greece, imagined here in a 16th-century engraving.


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Was but the menace which flung back

On him the torments of thy rack;




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The fate thou didst so well foresee



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But would not to appease him tell;

And in thy Silence was his sentence,

And in his Soul a vain repentance,

And evil dread so ill dissembled

That in his hand the lightnings trembled.



Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,

To render with thy precepts less

The sum of human wretchedness,

And strengthen Man with his own mind;




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But baffled as thou wert from high,

Still in thy patient energy,

In the endurance and repulse

Of thine impenetrable Spirit,

Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse,

A mighty lesson we inherit:

Thou art a symbol and a sign




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To Mortals of their fate and force;

Like thee, Man is in part divine,

A troubled stream from a pure source;

And man in portions can foresee

His own funereal destiny;




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His wretchedness, and his resistance.



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And his sad unallied existence:

To which his spirit may oppose

Itself—an equal to all woes,

And a firm will, and a deep sense,

Which even in torture can descry

Its own concentred recompense,

Triumphant where it dares defy,

And making Death a Victory.


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