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A similar conception occurs in the first two lines of Byron's Stanzas to Augusta' (1816):
This Spirit reappears near the end of 'Manfred' (III, iv, 62 ft.), only to be baffled there and thrown off-marking perhaps Byron's ultimate rejection of the idea of fatalism and star or destiny influence?
172: 119. Hence the ill-omen which traditionally attaches to
172: 129. these weak spirits. The Spirit which rules the star of Manfred's destiny regards itself as more potent than the elemental spirits which represent mere forces of Nature, perhaps
because it rules a soul.
173: 132. A line rhythmically after the analogy of the famous line in Paradise Lost' (II, 621),
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death" and to be scanned, if scanned at all, perhaps like this:
Earth, ocean, air, | night, mountains, winds, | thy star.
173: 135. With this line the donnée, or working theme of the poem, is presented-the quest for self-oblivion: leading to the suggestion of the (dramatic) cause why the quest is undertaken; the symbolic presentation of the quest itself, culminating in Act II, sc. iv (the Faust-motive); then the Resolution of the action in the closing scenes, with the suggestion of peace of mind (opening of Act III, sc. i), and of possible reconciliation and earthly forgetfulness in death (end of Act III, sc. iv).
Will death bestow it on me? Essentially Hamlet's
"For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
Manfred, like Hamlet, is contemplating suicide as an escape from his ills.
Lady Blessington reports Byron as saying: "One of the most fearful thoughts that ever crossed my mind during moments of gloomy scepticism has been the possibility that the last sleep may
not be dreamless. Fancy an endless dream of horror! It is too dreadful to think of. This thought alone would lead the veriest clod of animated clay that ever existed to aspirations after immortality."
173: 155. the lightning of my being. For the metaphor cf. 'Childe Harold' III, st. xcvii.
173: 160. in thine own words. Explained in the next speech of the Spirit, which thus implies the assertion of man's immortality.
174: 168. The Spirits are Spirits of the elements of Nature. It is by advancing his sway over Nature through the help of science and art (as if a process of magic like that of Manfred), that man can command these things. But can he command anything further--the really spiritual things—by the help of such means?
174 177. As music on the waters. The same simile occurs in the lyric "There be none of Beauty's daughters," above, p. 299. Cf. Moore,
"Hark! the vesper hymn is stealing
174 187 ff. From Manfred's speech which follows, we infer that the Spirit appears in the form of the loved and longed-for Astarte; while later (Act II, sc. iv) the true Phantom of Astarte appears to him. His love was fatal, and so, here the Spirit of the Star of his Destiny takes this form but to delude him and 'crush his heart.' Before the end of the poem is any reconciliation and atonement through the eternal-feminine suggested for Manfred, as it is for Faust in Goethe's drama? (Cf. Act II, sc. iv, ll. 151-155.)
175: 192 ff. What is the dramatic intention of this Incantation? What part does it fulfil in the whole structure of the poem? Is it (in the last three stanzas) the poet's view of the character he has created, or that of the malign spirit, who in the end is to be baffled? Or are we to imagine that the Voice is that of Astarte?
176: 250. With the character of Manfred compare that of Cain in Byron's drama of that name.
176 251. Thyself to be thy proper Hell. Cf. Milton, Par. Lost' I, 254:
"The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven,"
Similarly IV, 20-23, 75-78. Cf. also Marlowe, 'Faustus' V, v, 119–126:
"Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place; for where we are is Hell," etc.
Cf. Fitzgerald's 'Omar,' st. lxvi. So Byron's own verses 'To Inez ':
"Smile on-nor venture to unmask
Man's heart, and view the Hell that's there."
-proper, in the Latin sense (proprius) =
ACT I, SCENE II
This scene, in its own kind, is put together with extraordinary art. The factors or incidents in the scene (the view, the eagle passing, the pastoral pipe, the hunter) are delicately adapted and timed for the development of the particular mood of Manfred's mind which it is the purpose of the scene as a whole to portray. The effect is symphonic. The reader who enters into and fully imagines the scene cannot resist the thrill of the emotions of exultation, awe, mystery, and despair, which follow one another so rapidly from the opening to the close. It is a work of imagination, but of peculiarly Byronic imagination. The elements of the composition were the things which Byron had already seen and experienced. "You speak of Lord Byron and me,' wrote Keats in a letter to his brother Tom, July 23, 1818, "There is this great difference between us: he describes what he sees--I describe what I imagine.' While this is true in a sense, it must be added that with Byron at his best the imagination is also and perhaps equally operative, raising the materials supplied by experience into new and harmonious wholes. But however the imagination works, the poetic result is of course the important thing. Compare, then, the finished result of this scene as a whole with the raw materials for it suggested in the following extracts from Byron's Swiss Journal and Letters of the preceding year:
"We have been to the Grindelwald, and the Jungfrau, and stood on the summit of the Wenge[r]n Alp; and seen torrents of nine hundred feet in fall, and glaciers of all dimensions: we have heard shepherds' pipes, and avalanches, and looked on the clouds foaming up from the valleys below us, like the spray of the ocean of hell" [cf. 11. 82-89]...
"Crossed the mountains to Montbovon . . . the whole route beautiful as a dream, and now to me almost as indistinct. . . . At the approach of the summit of Dent Jument [Dent de Jaman] dismounted . . . the whole of the mountains superb. A shepherd on a very steep and high cliff playing upon his pipe. . . . Our Swiss shepherd's pipe was sweet, and his tune agreeable. . . . The view from the highest points of to-day's journey comprised on one side the greatest part of Lake Leman; on the other, the valleys and mountain of the Canton of Fribourg, and an immense plain, with the lakes of Neuchâtel and Morat, and all which the borders of the Lake of Geneva inherit; we had both sides of the Jura before us in one point of view, with Alps in plenty. . . The music of the cows' bells (for their wealth, like the patriarchs', is cattle) in the pastures, which reach to a height far above any mountains in Britain, and the shepherds shouting to us from crag to crag, and playing on their reeds where the steeps appeared almost inaccessible, with the surrounding scenery, realized all that I have ever heard or imagined of a pastoral existence [cf. 1. 49]. . . . I have lately repeopled my mind with On one side [Sept. 23] our view comprised the Jungfrau, with all her glaciers; then the Dent d'Argent, shining like truth; then the Little Giant (the Kleine Eigher), and the Great Giant (the Grosse Eigher), and last, not least, the Wetterhorn. ... Heard the avalanches falling every five minutes [cf. 1. 77]. From whence we stood, on the Wenge[r]n Alp, we had all these in view on one side; on the other the clouds rose from the opposite valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the ocean of hell, during a spring tide-it was white, and sulphury, and immeasurably deep in appearance [cf., again, 11. 82-89] . . . on arriving at the summit, we looked down upon the other side upon a boiling sea of cloud, dashing against the crags on which we stood (these crags on one side quite perpendicular). . Passed whole woods of withered pines, all withered; trunks stripped and barkless, branches lifeless; done by a single winter,--their appearance reminded me of me and my family [cf. 11. 66-69]" "I am a lover of nature and an admirer of beauty. I can bear fatigue and welcome privation, and have seen some of the noblest views in the world. But in all this -the recollection of bitterness, and more especially of recent and more home desolation, which must accompany me through life, have preyed upon me here; and neither the music of the shepherd, the crashing of the avalanche, nor the torrent, the mountain, the glacier, the forest, nor the cloud, have for one moment lightened the weight upon my heart, nor enabled me to lose my own wretched identity in the majesty, and the power, and the glory, around, above, and beneath me [cf. 11. 7 ff.]"
See also further extracts cited below to illustrate Act II, sc. ii.
1775. the past,-alluding again to "that all nameless hour" of I, i, 24.
1776. gulf'd. Byron is fond of verbs formed from nouns. So later, e.g., glass'd, uncharnel, etc.
177: 10. bright eye of the universe. A not uncommon poetical metaphor for the sun; e.g., cf. Marlowe's 'Faustus,' sc. xvi, 1. 70: Fair Nature's eye, rise."
177: 27. my own soul's sepulchre. For the metaphor, cf. Chapman, Tragedy of Cæsar and Pompey,' IV, ii,
"What soul that ever loved them most in life,—
Cf. also his Plays, Lond. 1874, pp. 188–9.
Cf. Shakspere, 'Richard II': "this frail sepulchre of our flesh."
178: 37 ff. Another of the half-echoes from Hamlet' which abound in Manfred.' Cf. 'Hamlet,' II, ii, 307 ff..—not so much for the verbal echoes, as for the similarity of ideas, mood, and situation.
178: 47. Hark! the note. Cf. (perhaps the hint which Byron used) the Easter chorus in 'Faust,' sc. i, 384 ff.
178: 55. A bodiless enjoyment. Cf. Shelley, To a Skylark (1820): "Like an unbodied joy."
179 72. Why does plough'd seem so much more intense and energetic as a metaphor than the "furrow'd o'er" of the preceding line? What is the full meaning of the phrase "plough'd by moments" used in this connotation?
179 73. all refers to the "moments," "years," and "hours" just mentioned, -i.e., 'they are as ages, and each is full of torture for me.'
180: 99. Thus, in its old age, did Mount Rosenberg. Properly Mount Rossberg, near Goldau, in the vicinity of the Rigi, where Sept. 2, 1806, occurred an extraordinary landslide, changing in a few minutes a fruitful valley into a rocky waste, destroying over four hundred and fifty human lives and several hundred buildings forming part of four villages, and filling up a quarter of the Lake of Lowerz, which lies at the bottom of the valley. The allusion, however, would be technically an anachronism if the poet desired to keep up the medieval atmosphere and setting.