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 http://englishhistory.net/byron/contents.html)

 

 

Prometheus (1816)
           
George Gordon, Lord Byron
                       

            1

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.

           

Image of Prometheus (13kb) 

 

(Image of Prometheus and the vulture, courtesy of http://www.pantheon.org)

 

            2

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. 

 

(Image of Valhalla courtesy of wikipedia.org)

 

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

 

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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.

 

(Image of Zeus courtesy of wikipedia.org)

 

Was but the menace which flung back

On him the torments of thy rack;

 

 

 

(Image of stretching rack courtesy of www.static.flickr.com)

 

The fate thou didst so well foresee

 

 

(Image of Kreskin courtesy of www.chervokas.typepad.com)

 

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.

           

            3

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;

 

  

 

(Image of Albert Einstein courtesy of www.westegg.com/einstein)

 

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

 

 

 

(Image of Ferdinand Saussure courtesy of www.personales.ciudad.com.ar)

 

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;

 

 

 

(Image of Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” courtesy of amazon.com)

 

His wretchedness, and his resistance.

 

 

(Image of Wretched record courtesy of www.popsike.com)

 

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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(Grim reaper image courtesy of mythology.com)

 

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