George Gordon Noel Byron was born on January 22, 1788 in England to a mother of nobility. However, she married his father who was mainly interested in her money which he quickly went through before his death in 1791. She lost the support of her wealthy family after the money was gone, which left her son with great bitterness.
George Byron had a birth defect for which he tried many remedies to no avail, but the defect had no effect on his spirit. He was known, even as a child to be playful and mischievous. In 1798 his granduncle passed away leaving George his estate and title, hence he became Lord Byron. Byron remains one of the world’s great romantic poets and his history of being a ladies man surely provided him with much fodder for his poetic works.
In 1807, at the age of 19 Byron published his first book of poetry, ‘Hours of Idleness’. While his name was becoming well known for his work, he was busy having numerous affairs. Though he already had quite the reputation of being of low moral character, his fate was sealed when he entered into an incestuous love with his half sister. Now, instead of simply being an immoral man, he was now viewed as despicable. His reputation sank so low as to cause him to leave his country. He died on April 19, 1824.
Despite his wild and reckless life, Lord Byron wrote some of the most stirring romantic poetry ever published. To date my favorite of his poems remains:
‘She Walks in Beauty’
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Countless hours of my teen years were spent reading the works of Lord Byron. Rogue or not, he inspired in me the emotions of the romantic spirit. Since then, I’ve learned that relationships rarely inspire us to the heights of ‘She Walks in Beauty’. Nonetheless I can still read this poem and dreamily sigh.