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Flashcards in Byron Deck (20):

When did Byron live?



What two authors particularly influences Byron's Don Juan?

Pope and Laurence Sterne (Tristram Shandy)


Where did the archetype of the Byronic Hero first appear?

In Childe Harold's Pilgrimage


What is a "Byronic Hero?

An alien, mysterious, gloomy spirit, superior in his passions and powers to the common run of humanity, who he regards with disdain. (Also strong erotic interest.)


Who is a famous example of the Byronic hero from literature?



With what mythical figure is the idea of the Byronic Hero (and, indeed, Byron himself) closely entwined?

The Vampire

Polidori's 1819 work "The Vampyre" took Byron as his model, and it is his version of the vampire that has dominated popular culture since.


Stanzas for Music: What is this poem about?

Byron writes about the "magic" of music, and with rich and sensuous imagery describes its rhythms, comparing them to the night sea.

The poem can be read two ways: literally as being about the pleasure of music, or about sex ("breast gently heaving," "swell of Summer sea," etc.).


They Say That Hope is Happiness: From where is the epigraph for this poem drawn?

Virgil's Georgics

“Happy is he who has been able to learn the causes of things.”


They Say That Hope is Happiness: What is the meaning of this poem?

Some may define having hope as having happiness, but the speaker disagrees. Hope is about the future, but Love - and happiness - is about the past and memory.

Our most beloved memories were once hopes; and everything that hope loves will eventually be a memory. So how can hope be happiness if it will eventually be in the past?

The poet concludes that "it is delusion all" because "the future cheats us from afar." There is basically no winning.


Written After Swimming: Where is Byron swimming?

From Sestos to Abydos; the Hellespont


Written After Swimming: To what mythical story does Byron compare his swim?

Hero and Lyander; Lyander, a native of Abydos, loved Hero of Sestos, and would nightly swim across to her.


Written After Swimming: What is the tone of this poem?

Satirical. Byron gently mocks how difficult he found the swim, when Lyander used to do it every night. At the same time, Byron is proud of his accomplishment.

We can perhaps see some of Pope's influence here - he speaks in an elevated tone of mythical events, and even almost elevates his own feat to mythology, while at the same time comparing his abilities unfavorably to those of mythic heroes.


Written After Swimming: When did the swim that inspired this poem take place?

May 1810


When We Two Parted: Who is this poem about? Who was she?

Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster

She was a married woman known for having a scandalous affair with the hero from the Napoleonic wars, Duke Wellington. Before she was Wellington's lover, she was Byron's.


When We Two Parted: What does this poem say?

The poet tells of himself and a lover who parted "in silence and tears." Their relationship was a secret. Now, the poet is hearing some scandalous gossip about his former lover - her "vows are broken;" she has both "fame" and "shame."

It pains him to hear this, but since no one knew about their affair, no one knows not to bring it up. The poet also shares in the shame - perhaps because he was a party to the same type of scandal that is currently going around. It is painful to think of the former lover as being with someone else.


What is Byron's full name?

George Gordon, Lord Byron


She Walks in Beauty: Who is this poem about?

Byron's cousin, who he first met at a ball where she was wearing a black gown with spangles.


She Walks in Beauty: What is the sentiment of this poem? How does the metrical form relate to it?

Byron praises the wholesome beauty and purity of "a heart whose love is innocent." The meter is simple trimeter, very straightforward, which underscores the intentions of his chaste sentiments.


Darkness: What contemporary scientific discoveries perhaps influenced the writing of this poem?

The advancement of geological science and the fossil record, which caused speculation about the destruction of life/extinction and the age of the world.


Darkness: What is the sentiment of this poem?

This poem is basically a post-Apocalyptic vision of the world. Everything is dark, dying, and chaotic. The last few remaining people die, civilization burns, and at last even the ocean dies -- everything is in the realm of darkness.