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The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see! The Spartan, borne upon his shield,
Was not more free.
Awake! (not Greece-she is awake !)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake,
And then strike home!
Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy manhood unto thee Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of beauty be.
If thou regret'st thy youth, why live?
The land of honourable death
Away thy breath!
Seek out-less often sought than found
A soldier's grave, for thee the best ;
And take thy rest.
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE
The first two cantos of Childe Harold,' it would seem, were written incidentally and their publication was almost by accident. On his return from his first journey abroad Byron brought home a poem, the • Imitation of Horace,' with which he hoped to follow up the success of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.' It was quite with indifference that he informed his friend Dallas that he had written, while abroad, also “a great many stanzas in Spenser's measure, relative to the countries he had visited.” These stanzas apparently he regarded as of little worth and had scarcely thought of publishing. Dallas, however, persuaded him to publish them ; and so •Childe Harold'saw the light.
The poem thus composed and printed owed little, accordingly, save its stanza, to literary tradition, and seems to be wholly original and spontaneous in design. External unity it has none, save in the perfunctory presence and personality of the Childe himself. There is enough of narrative, however, to suggest the epic genre, enough of description to suggest the didactic and idyllic poetry of the Eighteenth century, and enough of the movement and emotion of song to suggest the lyric. Indeed the real unity of the poem is in the personality of the poet, and the poet here as elsewhere is constantly and passionately personal and subjective. So that •Childe Harold' is more of a lyrical poem (in this restricted and modern sense) than anything else. It seems, indeed, superficially to answer to the description of "a glorified guide-book” and “a rhythmical diorama,” which has been applied to it. But the presence of a potent poetic personality throughout keeps it always in the domain of high poetry, and renders it interesting and complete as a whole. The poet's preface (quoted below) suggests only the superficial aim of the composition. Its essential and poetical aim, to record and communicate the reaction of picturesque and stirring scenes and events upon the sensitive and powerful genius of the poet, is of course left unstated, but is the real aim with which the reader is concerned.
As to the relation of the poet to the hero of the poem, Byron's disclaimer of identity in his preface must fairly be accepted. Ob. viously the poet speaks directly through the lips of Childe Harold, and invests him with circumstances drawn from his own experience, at least occasionally and when it suits his purpose. But generally the Childe is a creature of the imagination, and speaks the poet's thoughts idealized, objectified, and transformed, and not in their prosaic reality.
Chapters dealing with the period in his career covered by • Childe Harold' from any standard life of Byron may profitably be read in connection with the poem. See, preferably, “Byron's Works, the Letters and Journals,' edited by R. E. Prothero (London 1898) vol. I, ch. iv, vol. II, ch. V, vol. III, chs. xiii-xiv, and vol. IV, chs. XV-xvi. See also the appropriate chapters in the Lives by Moore, Nichol, Roden Noel, Elze, Jeaffreson, etc.
What distinguishes Byron's treatment of nature in this and other poems? Does he emphasize general features or details ? What aspects does he characteristically present? Does he often practise " descriptive” poetry ? Has he a discriminating eye and ear for color and for sounds ? Does the treatment of nature in the several cantos differ ? and in what respects? What is the prevailing tone of sentiment in each canto ?
Other subjects connected with Childe Harold' which may be investigated with interest and profit are the following:
1. The poetic style of Childe Harold ’: use of contrast, an. tithesis, apostrophe, climax, transition, ellipsis, and the other figures of speech.
2. Its use of tropes: does it abound in simile and metaphor ? Comparative amount of each; special qualities of; sources whence they are drawn; personification; poetical epithets,-favorite forms, and how may they be classified ?
3. Grammatical irregularities. 4. Versification: Byron's handling of the Spenserian stanza;
use of rhyme; pauses; alliteration. Difference in the several cantos, and explanation thereof.
5. Analysis of the structure of the poem; subjects of the several parts of each canto.
The difference in style and tone between the first two and the last two cantos of the whole poem, separated as they are by six or seven years in date of composition, is noteworthy. In the contrast we study the development of the poet's mind and art. What (with reference to the modern characterization of Shakspere's sev. eral periods) should be named as the distinguishing traits of Byron's art and mind in their development in each of the periods given in the outline of his life, at pp. li-liv, above ?
(Abridged, for Cantos I and II, from E. H. Coleridge's edition of Byron's Poems, 1899, vol. II.)
CANTO I. July 2. Sails from Falmouth in Lisbon packet (stanza xii). " 6. Arrives Lisbon (sts. xvi, xvii). Visits Cintra (sts.
xviii ff.). “ 17. Leaving Lisbon, rides through Portugal and Spain to Se.
ville (sts. xxx-xlii). Visits Albuera (st. xliii). “ 21. Arrives Seville (sts. xlv, xlvi). • 25. Leaving Seville, rides to Cadiz, across the Sierra Morena
(st. li). Cadiz (lxxi ff.).
Canto II. Aug. 17. Sails from Gibraltar in Malta packet (stanzas xvii
xxvii). Sept. 19-26. Sailing from Malta in brig-of-war Spider, passes be
tween Cephalonia and Zante, and anchors off
Petras. Sept. 27. In the channel between Ithaca and the mainland (sts.
xxxix-xlii). - 28. Anchors off Prevesa (st. xlv).
1809 Oct. 5. Arrives Janina (st. xlvii). " 11. Arrives Zitza (sts. xlviii-li). " 14. Delvinaki (st. liv). 66 19. Tepeleni (sts. lv-Ixi). 66 20. Reception by Ali Pacha (sts. Ixii-Ixiv). Nov. 8. Leaving Prevesa, anchors near Parga (sts. lxvii, lxviii). 06 9. Leaves Parga, and, returning by land, arrives Volon
dorako (st. lxix). “ 14. Arrives Utraikey=Lutraki (sts. Ixx, lxxii, Song “ Tam
bourgi, Tambourgi "). Dec. 16. Visits Delphi, the Pythian cave, and stream of Castaly
(Canto I, sts. i, lx). “ 25. Passes Phyle, arrives Athens (Canto II, sts. i ff., lxxiv). 1810 Jan. 16. Visits Mendeli=Pentelicus (st. lxxxvii). 66 23. Visits temple of Athene at Sunium (st. lxxxvi).
“ 25. Visits plain of Marathon (sts. lxxxix, xc). May 13. Arrives Constantinople (sts. Ixxvii-lxxxi).
CANTO III. Apr. 25. Sails for Ostend (st. ii). 66 267-May 7? Passing through Ghent, Antwerp, and Mech
lin, arrives at Brussels, and visits field of
Waterloo (xvii ff.). May 77-25. Leaves Brussels and journeys along the Rhine to
Geneva (xlvi ff.), passing the castle of Drachenfels (lv ff.), Coblentz (lvi) and Ehrenbreitstein (lviii), Morat, near Meyriez (lxiii-lxiv), and Aven
ches (lxv-lxvii); Lake Leman (lxviii). May 25-June 10. At Sécheron, near Geneva, with the Shelleys. June 10. To Yilla Diodati, near Geneva. June 23-July 1. Journey around Lake Leman in Byron's boat in
company with the Shelleys (lxxxv ff.), visiting Meillerie, Clarens (xcix ff.), Vevay, the castle of Chillon, Ouchy, and Lausanne (cv)—Cf.
Shelley's · History of a Six Weeks' Tour.' June 27. First draft of Childe Harold,' Canto III, completed.