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SONNET ON CHILLON

an unjust reign. Zeus then caused a vul

ture daily to consume his liver, which grew (123.) 13. Bonnivard: François Bonni again at night, dooming him to this fate vard, a sixteenth-century Swiss patriot and until some immortal should consent to die ardent republican, who took part in the in Prometheus's stead. This Chiron did, defence of Geneva against the Duke of and Hercules slew the vulture and released Savoy and was imprisoned in the Castle of the Titan.” (Webster's New InternaChillon for six years, – that is, until the tional Dictionary.) castle was captured by his friends. The This myth, familiar to the Greeks in castle is situated, amid magnificent scenery, slightly varying versions, attained its suat the end of Lake Geneva farthest from preme Classical expression in the “Promethe city of Geneva. “It is by this castle," theus Bound” of Æschylus together with says Byron, “that Rousseau has fixed the two lost plays, "Prometheus the Firecatastrophe of his Héloïse."

Giver” and “Prometheus Unbound,” the three constituting a unified trilogy. In the

many centuries that followed, the story THE PRISONER OF CHILLON

was virtually ignored by poets and drama

tists, until, in the late eighteenth and in When Byron wrote this poem in two the nineteenth century, the modern spirit days, not far from the scenes described in

was profoundly drawn to the Titan myth it, he was, as he says, “not sufficiently and it was reinterpreted by prominent aware of the history of Bonnivard” to writers in Germany, Italy, England, make use of it. Perhaps the poem owes France, and America. Through this something of its poetic truth and power to ancient story, modern writers expressed the fact that, while inspired by the memory their hatred of tyranny, their spirit of of Bonnivard, it is free from the trammels revolt, their passion for heroic strength and of history.

independence, their sympathy with suffer(124.) 52. But: except. - that pale and ing. “The question the race asks, in this livid light: Cf. lines 30-35.

Myth,” says G. E. Woodberry, "is 'What (126.) 263-264. glimmer of the sun etc.: is most divine in me' 'What is the god in Cf. lines 30-35. The sunbeam moved slowly me?' — and Shelley answers, it is allon as the sun made its progress in the enduring and all-forgiving love toward all; heavens.

and Herder answers that it is reason, (127.) 327. had: would have.

Keats that it is beauty, Goethe that it is liberty, and Hugo that it is immense tri

umphant toil.” What is the answer of PROMETHEUS

Byron?

DARKNESS

(129.) 50. clung them: dried them up.

MANFRED

In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of primeval gods ultimately overthrown by the Olympian gods. Although himself a Titan, “Prometheus, it was said, sided with the Olympians in their struggle against the Titans; but, grieved at their neglect of mankind, he stole fire from heaven and bestowed upon man it and the arts which control of it makes possible. Zeus, angered at this, had him bound to Mount Caucasus. But Prometheus, who was gifted with prophetic foresight, knew the source from which Zeus was to be eventually overthrown, and the god, to win this knowledge, offered to release him. The Titan refused, rather than perpetuate

Byron's aim, in this dramatic poem, is similar to that of Marlowe in his “Dr. Faustus” (which Byron said he had not read) and of Goethe in his "Faust.” “His Faust' I never read,” said Byron, "for I don't know German; but Matthew Monk Lewis, in 1816, at Coligny, translated most of it to me viva voce, and I was naturally much struck with it; but it was the Staub

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MY BOAT IS ON THE SHORE

(153.) 3. Tom Moore: See the note on Thomas Moore (page 674, above).

bach and the Jungfrau, and something else, much more than ‘Faustus,' that made me write 'Manfred.'” Whatever its literary echoes, “Manfred” is essentially the expression of Byron's moods during his wanderings in the Swiss Alps. The moods of the two preceding poems, and of much of “Childe Harold," Canto Third, may be traced in this work.

CHILDE HAROLD, CANTO

FOURTH

VENICE AND SUNSET

ACT FIRST

(132.) 136. Forgetfulness: Cf. "Childe Harold,” Canto Third, line 35, and the motto (page 99). (133.) 202-203. Though thy slumber etc.: Cf. lines 3-7.

ACT SECOND

(138.) 145-173. My spirit walked not with the souls of men etc.: Cf. “Childe Harold," lines 100-135 (pages 101-102). (139.) 186-187. He who from out etc.: Jamblicus, a mystical philosopher of the fourth century, who, bathing at the hot baths of Gadara, in Syria, evoked the gods Eros and Anteros from the springs. (141.) 275. The buried prophet: Samuel; see 1 Samuel, xxviii, 9 ff.

276. The Spartan monarch: Pausanias, who, having killed the maiden Cleonice by mischance, at length invoked her "unsleeping spirit" and learned that he would ere long be freed of his troubles. He was freed of them by death.

With stanzas

I-III, compare Wordsworth's sonnet, written fifteen years earlier, “On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic” (page 33); and see the notes on that poem (page 660, above).

1. the Bridge of Sighs: This famous bridge over the canal joins the Palace of the Doges and the old state dungeons.

8. the winged Lion's marble piles: Near the palace stands the lion of St. Mark, emblem of the old Venetian republic.

10. Cybele: the Greek Rhea, mother of Zeus, sometimes regarded as the goddess of town life and represented as wearing a crown of towers. (154.) 20. the songless gondolier: Formerly, the gondoliers were wont to sing stanzas from the “Jerusalem Delivered” of Tasso, the great Italian poet of the sixteenth century.

33. Pierre: a character in the “Venice Preserved" of Otway. On Otway, see the note on page 670.

37-45. The beings of the mind etc.: With this stanza, compare “Childe Harold,” Canto Third, stanza vi (page 100).

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(158.) 1143. couch the blind: remove cataract obstructing the vision. The operation known as couching is now obsolete.

The Spanish tradition says Hell: but it is probably only an allegory of the other state.” — The hero's name Byron derived from a familiar Spanish story relating to the profligate Don Juan de Tenorio.

THE OCEAN

(159.) 1620. there let him lay: This use

JUAN AND HAIDÉE of "lay” for “lie,” familiar to students of Shakespeare, was regarded as reputable as (162.) 1542. the Stygian river: the river late as the eighteenth century. Byron's Styx, over which the shades passed into revival of the usage was purposeless.

Hades. - Byron brings in the Greek as well as the medieval notion of punishment

after death, for the sake of Haidée. But DON JUAN

is her devout knowledge in this stanza con

sistent with her "pure ignorance" in stanza This poem, the last great work of cxc? Byron, exceeding 15,000 lines in length but (164.) 1624. Castlereagh: an unpopular left unfinished at his departure for Greece, Tory statesman who was leader of the is commonly regarded as his masterpiece. House of Commons during part of Byron's Into it he has poured himself — all the lifetime. conflicting elements of his large personal

1633-1638. Oh, Love! of whom ity: wit, satire, cynicism, sentiment, pathos etc.: Love troubles all mankind, in differdominate by turns, or blend into an incom ent ways, as the following attest: Cæsar, parably piquant mixture. Upon complet- | fascinated by Cleopatra; Antony, who suring the first canto of “Don Juan" Byron rendered himself to her charms and desaid that it "is meant to be a little quietly stroyed his career; Titus, master of the facetious upon everything. But I doubt passion, who, unpopular because of his whether it is not –

:- at least, as far as it attachment to Berenice, sent her away has yet gone

too free for these very from Rome after becoming emperor; the modest days." After the publication of the Roman poets, Horace, Catullus, well first two cantos, he wrote in a letter: versed in Love's lore, and Ovid, author of "You ask me for the plan of Donny "The Art of Love”; and Sappho, the great Johnny: I have no plan — I had no plan; Greek lyric poetess, who seems to have but I had or have materials. . . . Do you been the centre of an aristocratic literary suppose that I have any intention but to society of women at Mytilene, and who, giggle and make giggle? — a playful satire, according to the story, finding her love of with as little poetry as could be helped, Phaon unrequited, leaped from the Leucawas what I meant.” When the fifth canto dian rock, a promontory of the island of was done, he said that he had only begun Leucadia, into the Ionian Sea. the work. “I meant to take him the tour

1643. Belisarius: a general of the of Europe, with a proper mixture of siege, Byzantine Empire in the sixth century, who battle, and adventure, and to make him conquered the Persians and the Vandals of finish as Anacharsis Cloots in the French Africa, but was unable to cope with his Revolution. ...I meant to have him a wife Antonina, a woman of vicious, charCavalier Servente in Italy, and a cause for acter. a divorce in England, and a Sentimental

1649-1650. Epicurus and Aristip'Werther-faced man' in Germany, so as to pus, a material crew!: ancient Greek phishow the different ridicules of the society losophers who held that the highest good in each of those countries, and to have dis in life is pleasure. Although some of the played him gradually gâté and blasé as he later adherents of this doctrine were cergrew older, as is natural. But I had not tainly a material and sensual crew, Arisquite fixed whether to make him end in tippus and Epicurus, who established the Hell, or in an unhappy marriage, not doctrine, believed that the attainment of a knowing which would be the severest. high quality of pleasure demanded self

control and moderation. Byron, like many Delos rose from the waves of che Ægean others, has misrepresented their teaching. Sea and became the birthplace of Phoebus (164.) 1656. the royal sage, Sardanapalus: Apollo, god of poetry and music. semi-legendary king of Assyria. — In By

695. The Scian and the Teian ron's fascinating drama, of which this muse: Homer and Anacreon, born, or said genial hedonist is the hero, written two to have been born, respectively, at Scio and years after the present Canto, romance Teos. and mockery are also mingled.

700. Islands of the Blest": the (165.) 1691. Platonic, universal: In the happy abodes vaguely located in the philosophy of Plato, true reality resides, “Western Ocean" where the favorites of not in the world of the senses and of the the gods were said to dwell after death. individual things perceived by the senses,

701. Marathon: the plain between but in the world of "the Idea,” the ideal, mountains and sea, northeast of Athens, the universal. "He who has learned to where the army of Miltiades heroically see the beautiful in due order and succes defeated the Persian hordes. sion, when he comes toward the end will

707. A king: Xerxes, King of Persuddenly perceive a nature of wondrous sia, whose fleet was defeated by the Greeks beauty, not growing and decaying, or wax between Attica and the island of Salamis. ing and waning, not fair in one point of

730. Thermopyla: at the pass of view and foul in another, or in the likeness Thermopylæ three hundred Spartans made of a face, or hands, or any other part of

their immortal stand against the army of the bodily frame, or in any form of speech Xerxes. or knowledge, nor existing in any other

738. Samian wine: Anacreon, the being; but Beauty only, absolute, separate, great lyric poet who sang the praises of simple, everlasting, which without dimi love and wine, lived at the court of nution and without increase, or any change, Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, an island in is imparted to the ever growing and perish the Ægean. ing beauties of all other things” (Plato's

743-744. the Pyrrhic dance Symposium). In the preceding stanza, the Pyrrhic phalanx: The former is an Byron means that when we adore a beau ancient war dance, the latter a military tiful person or object (the “real,” or, bet formation used by the Greek general ter, the actual), we are, rather, adoring Pyrrhus. "ideal beauty” as imparted to that person 747. the letters Cadmus gave: Cador object. This Platonic conception of mus, a legendary Greek hero, was credited beauty easily lends itself to fallacies and with having introduced into Greece from distortions; the ambiguities of the familiar Phænicia or Egypt an alphabet of sixteen phrase “Platonic love” are a sufficient ex letters. ample. Byron, anything but a Platonist,

751. Anacreon's song: See the note uses the conception playfully.

to line 738, above.
(168.) 762. Suli's rock, and Parga's shore:
places in Albania, the home of a rugged

people who took part in the struggle (166.) 676. Ça ira": "It will succeed," a against Turkey which led to Byron's song of the French Revolution.

death. Byron holds them to be heroic, (167.) 686. De Staël: In her book on “Heracleidan,” as if they were of the race Germany, Madame De Staël had asserted of Heracles (Hercules), the mythical nathat Goethe summed up German litera tional hero of the ancient Greeks. ture. “The Pegasus he'd prance on” would

813. what whist owes to Hoyle: therefore be Goethean.

Edmund Hoyle, whose treatise on whist 687. "trecentisti: authors of the (1742) made him “famous." fourteenth century in Italy, of whom the

821. his life falling into Johnson's chief were Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. way: Dr. Johnson's life of Milton does 692. Delos rose,

and Phoebus justice neither to himself nor to "this great sprung! According to myth, the island of high priest” of the Muses.

THE ISLES OF GREECE

(169.) 833-840. All are not moralists etc.: 21-22. falls into the yellow Leaf:" Heroes such as those named in the preced- | “Macbeth," V, 3, 23: “my way of life Is ing stanza, says Byron with jocular irony, fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf," i.e., were not moralistic in their youth like the autumn of my life is at hand. Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge, who (171.) 29, 32. Lethe: the river of forgetas young men advocated democracy. See fulness. On this theme in Byron, see the note on Wordsworth's “Protest Against note to "Manfred,” Act First, line 136 the Ballot” (page 666, above), and on (page 679, above). Southey's “Battle of Blenheim” (page 671,

43. Pulci: See Byron's translation above). — After meeting Wordsworth at a of the amusing first canto of “The Mordinner, Byron remarked: “To tell the gante Maggiore" by Pulci (Italian poet, truth, I had but one feeling from the 1432-1484). The stanza form is the same beginning of the visit to the end, and that as in “Don Juan." was reverence.

842. Botany Bay: an Australian settlement for criminals.

ON THIS DAY I COMPLETE MY 852. Joanna Southcote's Shiloh: A

THIRTY-SIXTH YEAR certain Joanna Southcote announced prophetically that on a specified day in the 5. My days are in the yellow leaf: year 1814 she would give birth to a second See, above, note to page 170, lines 21-22. Shiloh (Messiah). The miracle was be

Cf. Shakespeare's Sonnets, number yond her powers; she presently died of lxxiii. dropsy.

23. The Spartan, borne upon his 865. "longueurs": things that are shield: The Spartans, slain or wounded, dull and long-winded.

were borne from the field upon their 871. epopee: epic poem.

shields. Byron's imagination never fails 876. "Waggoners: Wordsworth's to respond to the martial virtues. poem “The Waggoner,” published in 1819, is anything but exciting. Its scene is the Lake country that the poet loved in its MANGAN: THE NAMELESS ONE every feature. (170.) 877. He wishes for "a boat": In his note on the previous poem, Paul "Peter Bell," published in 1819, begins: Elmer More says: “The pathos and sin“There's something in a flying horse,

cerity of these verses are echoed in ManThere's something in a huge balloon; gan's 'The Nameless One, though the But through the clouds I'll never float

spirit of the two poems is not the same" Until I have a little Boat,

(Cambridge edition of Byron). James Shaped like the crescent-moon.”

Clarence Mangan (1803-1849) 883. Charles's Wain: the heavenly gifted Irish poet, of pure but too vehement constellation also known as the Great Bear spirit, — to extent influenced by or Dipper.

Byron's work. His Oriental poem “The

Karamanian Exile" suggested the metre THE AUTHOR'S PURPOSE

of J. R. Randall's “Maryland, My Mary

land." His “Dark Rosaleen" is one of The author explains his frame of mind the best lyrics written for the Irish naalso in a well known passage in the first

tional cause. Canto of the poem, stanzas ccxii ff.

(172.) 33. dreeing: enduring. He left 5. Lucifer: Satan. He appears in school while very young and labored at unByron's drama “Cain,” which, published a congenial work to support his parents. few months after this Canto, delighted

38.

Maginn: William Maginn Goethe with its forcefulness, but shocked (1793-1842), Irish author; given to intemmany readers with its unorthodoxy, like perance. Mangan himself, in the way certain parts of “Don Juan;" see lines 33 he here describes, became addicted to rum 34 (page 171).

and opium. His sufferings were aggra

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