George Gordon Byron, (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Amongst Byron’s best-known works are the brief poems She Walks in Beauty, When We Two Parted, and So, we’ll go no more a roving, in addition to the narrative poems Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Don Juan. He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.
Byron was celebrated in life for aristocratic excesses including huge debts, numerous love affairs, rumors of a scandalous incestuous liaison with his half-sister, and self-imposed exile. He was famously described by Lady Caroline Lamb as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. He travelled to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi in Greece.
- I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
- The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
- Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
- Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
- Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
- Morn came and went–and came, and brought no day,
- And men forgot their passions in the dread
- Of this their desolation; and all hearts
- Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
- And they did live by watchfires–and the thrones,
- The palaces of crowned kings–the huts,
- The habitations of all things which dwell,
- Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,
- And men were gather’d round their blazing homes
- To look once more into each other’s face;
- Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
- Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
- A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;
- Forests were set on fire–but hour by hour
- They fell and faded–and the crackling trunks
- Extinguish’d with a crash–and all was black.