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I: Stanzas to Ianthe: This dedication to Ianthe was written in the autumn of 1812, and first appeared in the seventh issue of the first two cantos of Childe Harold, February 1, 1814. Ianthe was Lady Charlotte Harley (born 1801), daughter of Byron's friend, Lady Oxford.

2: V, I. Such is thy name. Ianthe, as if from ov (= violet or narcissus, sometimes, as levкó-íov, identified with the lily), and av005, a flower.

3: i. A more or less conventional invocation, after the tradition of epical poetry, composed, not, like most of the stanzas that follow, on the spot, but after Byron's return to England. The visit to the sacred hill of Parnassus, the vaunted "rill" of Castaly, and Apollo's shrine at Delphi, occurred Dec. 16, 1809, several months after the visit to the scenes described in the opening stanzas. Cf. st. LX.

3 : ii, 4. the lines in

3 : ii. This stanza is autc biographical, but exaggerated. Byron's youth was marred by much excess, but he was not quite the figure here painted. He always delights in bravado and in shocking the unco' guid ("Ah me! in sooth he was a shameless wight"). Note what Byron says in his preface, above, on the idealization of the character of his hero.

Vexed. . . the drowsy ear seems to be a half echo of Shakspere's King John III, iv :

"Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,

Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man."

Cf. also III, iii, 39: "the drowsy race of night," emended by some editors into "the drowsy ear of night."

Byron abounds in such literary echoes, allusions, and halfquotations. It is part of his style, and he expects his reader to feel them.

3 iii, 1. Childe Harold. "Childe Burun in Byron's original manuscript; and so for some distance onward in the poem: a further proof of the essentially autobiographical (although poetically autobiographical) intention of the poem.


I. hight was called (A.-S. hatan), properly a passive verb in itself, and so not requiring the auxiliary was, as fre

quently in Spenser and earlier poets. The form with the auxiliary, however, is justified by long usage.

4 iv, 7. Byron was sated at the end and ready to lay down his life, but this is a romantic satiety; doubtless sincere enough as a passing mood, but there was abundance of life and enjoyment still before him, as this poem alone sufficiently testifies. Shelley, too, although in a different tone, utters the complaint of satiety:

"Thou lovest; but ne'er knew love's sad satiety."
('To a Skylark').

It is a note of the current romanticism. Alfred de Musset ("Byron and eau sucrée") in France echoes it.

4: V, 3. The allusion is to Mary Chaworth, the heiress of an estate adjoining Newstead, and somewhat older than Byron, for whom in 1803 he conceived a hopeless passion, "his first real love," which he refers to in several of his minor poems.

5 vii, 1. Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire, the hereditary seat of the Byrons.

7 xiii, 9. See Byron's Preface, above p. 309. The first stanza of Lord Maxwell's "Good Night" (in Scott's 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,' 1810, vol. I, p. 297) is as follows:

Adieu, madame, my mother dear,
But and my sisters three !
Adieu, fair Robert of Orchardstane !
My heart is wae for thee.
Adieu, the lily and the rose,
The primrose fair to see:
Adieu, my ladie, and only joy!
For I may not stay with thee.

8: xiv. From this point Byron drops most of the affectation of archaism introduced in the earlier stanzas, and assumes more of his own free, vigorous utterance and rhythm. Striking is the skill with which, as in this stanza, the poet combines the impression of narrative flow and vivacity with richness and interest of picturesque description.

8: xv, 9. The French under Napoleon, who invaded Portugal in 1807.

9 : xviii, 8.
10: xix-xxii.

The reference is to Dante's "Paradiso."

Compare this, as a specimen of poetical de

scription, with that of the Rhine in canto III, stanzas lx-lxi. Notice how in successive line-long phrases in stanza xix the picture is put together, how well the details are selected, and with what effective epithets they are brought out. By what devices does the poet emphasize the human interest of his picture?

IO: XX, 4. "Since the publication of this poem I have been informed of the misapprehension of the term Nossa Señora de Pena. It was owing to the want of the tilde, or mark over the ñ, which alters the signification of the word: with it Peña signifies a rock; without it, Pena has the sense I adopted. I do not think it necessary to alter the passage; as, though the common acceptation affixed to it is 'Our Lady of the Rock,' I may well assume the other sense from the severities practised there" [Byron's note, in Second Edition.

II: xxii, 6. William Beckford (1760-1844), author of 'Vathek,' lived for three years (1794-1796) near Cintra. Byron greatly admired 'Vathek,' the romance.

12: xxxii, 1.

Lusitania and her Sister, i.e., Portugal and


12: xxxiv, 4. Ancient roundelays. The Spanish ballads. See The Spanish Ballads,' translated by J. G. Lockhart, e.g. 'The Bull-Fight of Gazul.'

13 XXXV, 2. Pelagio, or Pelayo, the Spanish hero and king who rallied the Christian arms in northern Spain and first made head against the Moors, 718 A.D. His standard, a wooden cross, is still preserved at Oviedo.

3. Cava's traitor-sire. Count Julian, liegeman of Roderick the Goth, whose daughter Cava Roderick had violated, and who in revenge allied himself with the Moors, calling them into Spain in 711. Roderick was defeated and slain, and the Moorish occupation of Spain ensued. Cf. Southey's 'Roderick,' and Sir Walter Scott's 'Vision of Don Roderick.'

7. The Moors were finally expelled in 1492.

8. In Christian symbolism the cross is often red. Red-Cross Knight :

"And on his brest a bloudie crosse he bore,
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord."

So Spenser's

Similarly the crescent, representing the moon, is usually silver gilt in Moslem lands,

14: xxxix, 8. The battle of Talavera, in which Wellington and the Spaniards won a doubtful victory over the French, began July 27, 1809, and lasted two days. Byron was not present, but visited the spot soon after.

15: xliii. The battle of Albuera, where the English and Spaniards defeated the French, was fought May 15, 1811. This stanza was added after Byron's return to England.

16 xlvi. Byron's visit to Seville was at the end of July, 1809. Seville surrendered to the French January 31, 1810, after very little resistance.

Fandango, a Spanish dance, here personified.

17: xlvii, 6. 17: xlviii, 5. Viva el Rey, "Long live King Ferdinand! is the chorus of most of the Spanish patriotic songs. They are chiefly in dispraise of the old King Charles, the Queen, and [Godoy] the Prince of Peace." [Byron's note.-Manuel de Godoy (1767-1851), who received the title of Principe de la Paz, was the reputed paramour of the Queen, and raised by her from low estate, becoming prime minister of Spain during the period of the downfall of the national power and the greatest degradation of the state.

17: xlix. Description of the region of the plain of the Guadalquivir and heights of Sierra Morena in the south of Spain. Invaded by the French in June, 1808.

7. The Dragon's Nest, the city of Jaen, recaptured from the French by the Spanish early in July, 1808.

18: 1, 2-3. The red cockade, with Fernando Septimo' in the center" [Byron's note.

18: li.

Description of Wellington's fortifications.

18: lii, 1. The deeds to come. In 1811 Wellington drove the French from Portugal.

18: lii, 6. The West, Spain, or Hesperia.

19 liv. Augustina, the Maid of Saragossa, who (according to the account of the day), when that city was besieged by the French and her lover killed at his gun, snatched the match from his hand and worked the gun in his place. Byron saw her at Seville. Cf. her story in Southey's 'History of the Peninsular War'.

3. The anlace, a short knife or dagger.

20 lvi. The rhetorical structure of this stanza is noteworthy.


Observe that to each of the first four lines answers in sense the corresponding line of the second quatrain.

20: lx. "These stanzas were written in Castri (Delphos) at the foot of Parnassus, now called Atakupa (Liakura), December [16], 1809" [Byron's note.

Whom I now survey.

The summit of Parnassus, it is said, is not visible from Delphos. So in reality Byron is describing the scene from memory.

23: lxxvi, 5. Croupe, for croupade, a particular leap or curvet taught the horse.


The opening stanzas by a bold transition introduce at once the chief theme of the canto, Greece, her ancient glories and present ruin, especially as suggested by the fate of her noblest monument of art, the Parthenon. The poet then returns to the subject of his journey, beginning with a description of the voyage from Malta to Greece in a brig of war.

25: i.

Athena is invoked. Her temple is the Parthenon on the Acropolis at Athens, which was badly damaged by powder explosions in 1656 and 1687. At the time of Byron's visit "the dread sceptre and dominion dire" of the Turks was over Greece.

25 iii. The point of view is changed and the poet imagines himself to be standing amid the ruins of the temple of Zeus, with the Acropolis ("this spot ") in full view.

26: v, I-2. For example, one of the tumuli in the plain of Troy near the shores of the Hellespont, raised perhaps to the memory of Ajax or Achilles.

7 ff. Moralizations in the manner of Hamlet's over the skull of Yorick.

27: vii, 1-2. The reference is to Socrates, who, however, did not assert that "nothing can be known," but merely that he was wiser than others in knowing that he knew nothing. Cf. Congreve, The Old Bachelor,' I, i: "You read of but one wise man, and all he knew was, that he knew nothing."

27: viii, 3. 'Acts' xxiii, 8: "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection." Cf. 'Acts' iv, 2, and Matthew' xxii, 23.

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