When Pushkin’s pen was born a winged line that exhaustively defined the face and character of his beloved hero: “Moskvich in Harold’s Cloak,” its creator, I think, was not at all eager to impress compatriots striking in the face with originality. Its purpose, it is reasonable to assume, was not so ambitious, although no less responsible: to place in one word the prevailing mood of time, to give a capacious embodiment of the world outlook and at the same time – the everyday, behavioral “pose” of a rather wide circle of noble youth, whose consciousness of their own alienation from the surrounding was molded into a form of romantic protest. The brightest expression of this critical attitude was Byron, and the literary hero, most fully and consummately
Embracing many different events of a stormy author’s biography, this poem of travel impressions, written by the Spencer’s strophe, born from the experience of young Byron’s trips to the countries of South and South-East Europe in 1809-1811. and the subsequent life of the poet in Switzerland and Italy, fully expressed the lyrical power and unprecedented ideological and thematic breadth of Byron’s poetic genius. Her creator had every reason in writing to his friend John Hobhouse, the addressee of her dedication, to characterize “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” as “the largest, richest in thought and the broadest in scope from my works”. For decades before becoming the standard of romantic poetics on a pan-European scale, it entered the history of literature as an exciting, heartfelt testimony about “time and about oneself,”
Innovative against the background of Byron’s modern English poetry was not only the view of reality embodied in the “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”; a fundamentally new and typically romantic relationship between the protagonist and the narrator, in many ways similar, but, as Byron emphasized in the preface to the first two songs and in addition to the preface, far from identical
Anticipating many creators of a romantic and constructive orientation, particularly in Russia, Byron stated in the hero of his work the illness of the century: “… early depravity of the heart and disregard for morality lead to satiety with past pleasures and disappointment in new, and beauty of nature, and the joy of travel, and in general all motives, with the exception of only ambition, the most powerful of all, are lost to the soul, so created, or rather, falsely directed. ” And yet this very, in many respects imperfect character turns out to be the container of secret hopes and thoughts of the contemporaries who are extremely perceptive to the evils and judging the present and the past from the maximalistic humanistic positions of the poet, before whose name the priests, hypocrites, zealots of official morality and philistines not only prudish Albion, but also all the monarchs and reactionaries of Europe that groaned under the burden of the “Holy Alliance”. In the final song of the poem this fusion of the narrator and his hero reaches its climax, incarnating into an artistic whole, new for the great poetic forms of the nineteenth century. This whole can be defined as unusually sensitive to the conflicts of the surrounding thinking consciousness, which, in justice, is the main character of the “Childe Harold Pilgrimage.”
This consciousness can not be called otherwise than the subtlest seismograph of reality; and what in the eyes of an unbiased reader appears as the unconditional artistic merits of an agitated lyrical confession, naturally becomes an almost insurmountable obstacle when you try to “translate” the fluttering Byron’s stanzas into the register of an impartial chronicle. The poem is essentially plotless; all its narrative “beginnings” comes down to several, unintentionally dropped lines about an English youth from a noble family who, already nineteen years, was fed up with a favorite set of secular pleasures, disillusioned with the intellectual abilities of compatriots and the charms of compatriots and – letting them travel. In the first song, Childe visits Portugal, Spain; in the second – Greece, Albania, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul; in the third, after his return and a short stay in his homeland – Belgium, Germany and for a long time lingers in Switzerland; Finally, the fourth is devoted to the Byron’s lyrical hero’s journey to the cities of Italy that preserve the traces of the majestic past. And only looking closely at what separates in the surroundings, which snatches from the kaleidoscopic variety of landscapes, architectural and ethnographic beauties, everyday signs, everyday situations, a tenacious, piercing, in the full sense of the word, thinking eyes of the narrator, we can take for ourselves the idea that, as in the civil, philosophical and purely human plane, this hero is the Byronic poetic “I”, which the language does not turn to be called “the second.” Germany and for a long time is delayed in Switzerland; Finally, the fourth is devoted to the Byron’s lyrical hero’s journey to the cities of Italy that preserve the traces of the majestic past. And only looking closely at what separates in the surroundings, which snatches from the kaleidoscopic variety of landscapes, architectural and ethnographic beauties, everyday signs, everyday situations, a tenacious, piercing, in the full sense of the word, thinking eyes of the narrator, we can take for ourselves the idea that, as in the civil, philosophical and purely human plane, this hero is the Byronic poetic “I”, which the language does not turn to be called “the second.” Germany and for a long time is delayed in Switzerland; Finally, the fourth is devoted to the Byron’s lyrical hero’s journey to the cities of Italy that preserve the traces of the majestic past. And only looking closely at what separates in the surroundings, which snatches from the kaleidoscopic variety of landscapes, architectural and ethnographic beauties, everyday signs, everyday situations, a tenacious, piercing, in the full sense of the word, thinking eyes of the narrator, we can take for ourselves the idea that, as in the civil, philosophical and purely human plane, this hero is the Byronic poetic “I”, which the language does not turn to be called “the second.”
And then you are suddenly convinced that the lengthy, five thousand verses lyrical narrative of the “Pilgrimage of Childe Harold” is in a sense nothing more than an analog of the current review of international events familiar to our contemporaries. Even stronger and shorter: hot spots, if you do not fear a boring newspaper stamp. But the review, which is as alien as possible to any class, national, party, confessional prejudice. Europe, as now, at the turn of the third millennium, is embroiled in the flames of large and small military conflicts; Its fields are strewn with piles of weapons and the bodies of the dead. And if Childe is a slightly distanced observer of dramas and tragedies unfolding before his eyes, Byron, who stands behind him, on the contrary, never misses an opportunity to express his attitude to what is happening,
So in Portugal, the strict beauty of whose landscapes enchant the newcomer. In the meat grinder of the Napoleonic wars, this country became a bargaining chip in the conflict of major European powers; And Byron has no illusions about the true intentions of their ruling circles, including those that determine the foreign policy of his own island homeland. So in Spain, blinding the splendor of colors and fireworks of national temperament. He devotes a lot of beautiful lines to the legendary beauty of Spanish women, capable of touching the heart of the child who is fed up with everything in the world. But it is important that the narrator sees and portrays the bearers of these charms in a situation of mass social upheaval, in an atmosphere of nationwide resistance to Napoleonic aggression: “A loved one is wounded – she does not shed tears,” Palin the captain – she leads the squad, / They are running – she screams: go ahead! / And the onslaught of the new dared the enemy avalanche. Who will make it easier for a slain death? / Who will avenge if the best soldier has fallen? / Who will inspire the man with courage? / All, all of it! When haughty gall / Pre-women so shamefully retreated? “
So in the moaning under the heel of the Ottoman despotism of Greece, whose heroic spirit the poet tries to revive, recalling the heroes of Thermopylae and Salamina. So in Albania, stubbornly defending its national identity, even at the cost of everyday bloody revenge on the invaders, at the cost of a total conversion of the entire male population into intrepid, ruthless giaours, threatening the sleepy peace of the Turks-oppressors.
Other intonations appear on the lips of Byron-Harold, slowing down a step on the grandiose ashes of Europe – Waterloo: “He beat, your hour, – and where is the Great, the Force? / Everything – Power and Power – turned into smoke.” / For the last time, more invincible, / The eagle soared – and fell from heaven, pierced… “
Once again summing up the paradoxical lot of Napoleon, the poet is convinced: the military confrontation, bringing innumerable sacrifices to the peoples, does not bring liberation. Sober, with all the obvious “heretical” for his time, and his reflections on Lake Leman – the refuge of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, like Voltaire, who invariably delighted Byron.
French philosophers, the apostles of Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood, awakened the people to an unprecedented riot. But are the ways of retribution always righteous, and does the fateful seed of its own future defeat carry in itself the revolution? “And the trace of their will is fatal.” They tore the veil from Truth, Destroying false beliefs, / And the innermost eyes appeared. / They mixed the Good and Evil began, / All the past was overthrown. “For what? / That the new throne of the offspring founded / To build a prison for him, / And the world once again saw the violence of triumph. “
“It should not, can not last long!” – exclaims the poet, who has not lost faith in the original idea of historical justice.
The spirit is the only thing that does not cause doubt in Byron; in the futility and vicissitudes of the destinies of the powers and civilizations, he is the only torch whose light can be fully trusted: “So let us think boldly! We defend / The last fort among the common fall. / Let at least you remain mine, / Holy right of thought and judgment, / You, God’s gift! “
The only pledge of true freedom, he fills the meaning with being; the pledge of human immortality, according to Byron’s thought, is an inspired, inspired creativity. Therefore, it is hardly by chance that the apotheosis of the Harold wanderings around the world becomes Italy – the cradle of universal human culture, a country where eloquence of even the stones of the tombs of Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, the ruins of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum eloquently declare their greatness. The humiliated destiny of the Italians at the time of the “Holy Alliance” becomes for the narrator a source of unflagging spiritual pain and, at the same time, a stimulus to action.
Well-known episodes of the “Italian period” of Byron’s biography are a kind of off-screen commentary on the final song of the poem. The poem itself, including the unique appearance of its lyrical hero, is a symbol of the author’s faith that bequeathed to the contemporaries and descendants the unshakable principles of his philosophy of life: “I studied the adverbs of others, / I was not a stranger to the stranger.” Who is independent, in his element, / In whatever he hit the edge, – / And between people, and where there is no housing. / But I was born on the island of Liberty / And the Reason – there my native land… “