Poetic Diary of a Romantic Soul

For the first time, with utter frankness, having spoken in verse about the storms and passions that had shaken his heart, Byron made a real revolution in the lyrics. Before him, poets mostly wrote about love and hatred, joys and sufferings as generalized, abstract, and often conditional feelings. Byron, however, turned the soul inside out, giving the lyric narrative the character of a personal diary that reveals in its entirety the individual identity of the poetic “I”. This “diary” represented a character driven by a sense of sharp rejection of bourgeois-aristocratic society and expressing this feeling in the widest range of spiritual life – from the paralyzing soul of “world tribulation” to the most desperate, truly titanic rebellion. Rebellious and restless, yearning and rebellious, unrestrained and independent, despising the European modernity and seeking true values ​​beyond its borders, he seemed to many to be the poetic counterpart

of Byron himself. But for all its similarity to the poet, the hero was also a collective image of a generation born for great achievements, but not found a worthy use for its forces in Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

For the first time a close-up portrait of a Byronic hero was depicted in the first songs of the poem “Childe Harold Pilgrimage”, which the author, after completing two more songs, called his “greatest, richest thoughts and widest in scope” composition. “Childe Harold Pilgrimage” is written in the form of a free lyrical story about the wanderings of a young but already disappointed in the life of an aristocrat, not devoid of any spiritual gifts, but lacking the opportunity to realize them.

Harold’s way lies through the struggle with Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, suffering under Turkish rule Albania and Greece, Switzerland, whose history and nature in the poem are opposed to the era of Napoleonic wars, and finally, through the enslaved Italians Italy. From these corners of the “pilgrimage” of the protagonist a wide panorama

of European reality of the beginning of the XIX century is formed. However, it is not at all the main subject of the artistic image in the work, but the personality formed by this reality and trying to find its place in it.

Orientation to the artistic comprehension of modern personality determined the general construction of the plot of the poem, subordinating it to the author’s inner logic, alternating pictures from life of different countries with descriptions of the soul of his hero, as well as reflections on nature, cultural treasures, the destinies of peoples, ancient history and the modern political situation in Europe. Thus, the poem is a kind of lyrical travel diary, characterized by free composition and an abundance of authorial digressions. The so-called Spencerian stanza also serves the task of the free form of the narrative, which, according to Byron, allows a great variety in the expression of poetic thought.

The journey of Childe Harold coincides with a period of important historical changes, encompassing the French conquest wars, the overthrow of Napoleon and the subsequent political reaction. This coincidence is not accidental: it is a clear indication that the internal crisis that prompts the hero to wander around with a devastated soul in white light is a direct product of modern social life. Therefore Harold, amazed by his boundless boredom, unshakable indifference to the usual worldly temptations, in other words, the state which Byron called “the disease of the mind and heart of the fatal”, and Pushkin – “premature old age of the soul,” appeared not only as a peculiar personality, but also as his mouthpiece generation. This generation, born, like Harold, during the years of the French Revolution and just like him, in the years of growing up, disappointed by modern history, immediately recognized himself in the main hero of Byron’s poem. One of the evidence of this can serve as fiction of the early XIX century, responded to the advent of Childe-Harold long line of characters, wrapped in “Harold’s cloaks.”

By his age, mentality, character and even the very “route” of the journey, Childe Harold so clearly reminded Byron that many contemporaries considered him a self-portrait of the poet. However, the author of the poem objected to this interpretation: “I do not intend to identify myself with Harold in any way,” he declared, “I will deny any connection with him.” If in part you can think that I painted it from myself, then, believe me, only partially, and I do not admit even in this… I would never want to be such a subject as I did my hero. ” Indeed, the “partial” similarity should not overshadow the fundamental differences between the author and his hero. Harold, introduced, according to Byron, to link different fragments of the poem and often lost by the narrator from the field of view, – the character is rather conditional and devoid of development; he seems to be frozen in his original state of disappointment and contemptuous indifference to the world. No doubt, this state was well known to the poet, and therefore reproduced him in many of his works, but still was only one of the “casts” of his diverse psychic life. And where Harold indifferently contemplates the pictures opening to his gaze, the voice of the narrator resounds with indignant or sympathetic appraisal of the present, proudly or anguishly recalling the great past, passionately calling for a struggle with the oppressors, or pensively reflecting on philosophical questions. In other words, the image of the author is the same central character of the poem as Childe Harold, and, just like Childe Harold, focuses on the most important motifs of Byronic poetry.

Throughout his life, JG Byron put the struggle for freedom above poetic creativity. In his early glory he wrote in his diary: “Who would write if he had the opportunity to do something better? .. Actions, actions, actions,” I say, “and not writing, especially in verse.” However, it was in creativity, in an artistically perfect form, that the poet immortalized his desire for freedom… “Because, as literary critic A. Zverev remarked, the events that worried Byron have been passing, and his poetry sounds like the same alarm, calling for struggle against any tyranny and any injustice, and it still shines… a mournful star, whose ray will not be lost in the dazzling light cast by other planets, burning in the sky of poetry… “

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Poetic Diary of a Romantic Soul