George Gordon Byron Biography and Impact

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George Gordon Byron a Natural Born Poet. Their are many different opinions on the written works of George Gordon Byron which could include one very big question. Was he a natural born poet or simply a product of abuse and mental illness. His writings may have been more a way to ease his paand suffering rather than a natural talent. Perhaps his writings were a form of self therapy?

Throughout his writings and life history there is much evidence to suggest that his poetry was being greatly influenced by his mental instability. I have lrned much on this great poet and I too believe that his writings were influenced greatly because of the pain and abuse he suffered in his youth. I will attempt to point out the many possibilities to this. George Gordon Byron was known as Lord Byron during his lifetime.

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Byron was born in 1788 and died at the early age of thirty-six in the year 1824. His handsome face, riotous living and many love affairs made Byron the most talked-of man of his day. Hwas known as a romantic, fascinating figure to his fellow Englishmen. In our current century his reputation has dwindled to merely being known as a poet. His childhood was colorful to say the least. There is much evidence to suggest mental instabilitwas inherent in his family.

Byron was born on Jan.22, 1788 in London. His great-uncle from whom he inherited the title, was known as "wicked Lord Byron"; his father army officer, was called "mad Jack" Byron. This wealth and the nick names of the Byronen went back to at least as far a Lord Byron’s’ Grandfather, a Vice Admiral, known as "Foul Weather Jack". He was giving this name as he had a reputation of attracting storms. These titles given to his family only adds to the evidence of mental instality. Here’s an interesting note: (His family had a long tradition of marrying its cousins, consequently, there were some oddities among their ancestors.

Byron’s grandfather "Foul Weather Jack" hated his sons and spent a great deal of time trying to destroy their estate, Newstead. He hoped to leave nothing for his sons, so he encouraged swarms of cricketso run throughout the house.) (His Life

Born with a clubfoot, he was sensitive about it all his life. When he was just three his father died, leaving the family with nearly nothing to survive on. His parents, Catherine Gordon Byron (of the old and violent line of Scottish Gordons) and John ron, had been hiding in France from their creditors, but Catherine wanted their child born in England, so John stayed in France, living in his sister’s house, and died in 1791, possibly a suicide. However, at ten was left a small inheritance along withis title. (George;quot;Don Juan;quot;Gordon His mother then proudly moved from the meager lodging in Aberdeen, Scotland to England.

The boy fell in love with the ghostly halls and spacious grounds of Newstead Abbey, which had been presented to the Byron’s by Henry VIII, and he and his mother lid in the run down estate for a while. While in England growing up his was sent to a private school in Nottingham, where his clubfoot was doctored by a quack named Lavender. He suffered abuse while there, from both the painful tortures of Dr. Lavender d the unnatural affection of the school nurse by the name of May Grey. He was subjected to mistreatment by her through drunkenness, beatings, neglect, and sexual liberties. This abuse was not stopped early enough to protect the boy from the psychologil injury in the premature initiation into sex-play.

Byron’s mother had a bad temper that he was constantly being exposed to as well. John Hanson, Mrs. Byron’s attorney, rescued him from the unnaral affections of May Grey the school nurse, the tortures of Lavender, and the uneven temper of his mother. John Hanson then took him to London, where a reputable doctor prescribed a special brace. That next autumn of 1799 Hanson entered him into a school at Dulwich. At seventeen he entered Cambridge University. Determined to overcome his physical handicap, Byron became a good rider, swimmer, boxer, and marksman. He enjoyed literature but cared little for other subjects.

While staying at his mother’s (something Byron did only when absolutely unavoidable( a neighbor of Mrs. Byron’s encouraged Byron to publish his poems. In 1806, the book "Fugitive Pieces" appeared. Byron sent copies to two of his friends, one of whom wte back to say that he thought the poem in the book "To Mary" was far too shocking to read by the general public. Byron took this opinion very seriously, and ordered every copy of the volume burnt.

The book was republished (minus the offending poem)inarch 1806 as "Hours of Idleness". It sold well, but reviews were mixed, and Byron answered his detractors with the very successful satire "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. (George "Don Juan" Gordon ;Travels in Europe and the Middle East inspired his first long poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’. The first two sections were published in 1812, and he became famous almost overnight.

Women sought him out, and young men copied his open collar and flong cravat. he married Anne Milbanke. They had one daughter, but soon separated. Society and the public reacted unfavorable to Byron’s often scandalous conduct, and in a fit of temper he left England for Italy. While in Italy he wrote additional cantos r Childe Harold’; Manfred’, a verse play; and Don Juan’, a half-romantic, half-humorous poetic version of the Spanish story.

Byron became interested in Greece’s struggle to free itself from Turkish rule. He went to Greece and began helping to organe the revolt. At Missolonghi he died of a fever on April 18, 1824. His doctors at the time believed he needed to be bled to cure the fever and that probably was the real cause of his death. (Compton’s Encyclopedia P.533,1989). 		The relationship between his mother and himself influenced Byron in his writings. He once wrote a short softer strain describing himself in his childhood a"A little curly-headed, good-for-nothing" "And mischief-making monkey from his birth".

He inherited his uncontrollable temper from both sides of the family. His great-uncle had killed a man in a tavern brawl. Byron’s mother, was a tigress in her own right. In her moments of fury she tore her bonnets and her dresses. When Byron was up mischief she threw vases and fire shovels at his head and called him a ;quot;lame brat.;quot; This insult always made Byron blind with rage. For he felt extremely sensitive about his clubfoot.

One day when his mother hurled this distasteful insult at him he rsed a knife to his throat, and it was only with difficulty that they saved him from slashing himself. In the course of another quarrel the mother and the son threatened each other’s life, and each of them went privately to the apothecary’s to be sure tother had not be there to a purchase poison. (Thomas P. 125-126)

George Gordon Byron was haunted by his lame foot his entire days and it was apparent in his works. Once overhearing a girl he was infatuated with refer to him as ;quot;that lame boy’ certainly must have deepened his disappointment at being born with this dermity. A fragile self-esteem made Byron extremely sensitive to criticism, of himself or of his poetry, and he tended to make enemies rather quickly. His poetry, along with his lifestyle, was considered controversial in his time and often deemed "perveed" or satanic," among other things.

The fact that he was often discontent and unhappy, combined with a constant desire for change meant that he created an unstable world for himself, though he never gave up his individual freedom to choose his own patand his own destiny. In 1811 Byron embarked on a Grand Tour through the Mediterranean, and the experience was to influence him greatly. One attitude that he adopted from his travels was that he disliked sharing a meal with or watching a woman eat.

John Murray once descried Byron as "Wild, audacious, rebellious, half mad by nature: a creature made to tempt and to be tempted, to seduce and to fall, about whom there was but one certainty, that he was irreclaimable." John Murray wrote this in part bause of the extravagant lifestyle Byron led. While at Trinity College in Cambridge he ran up large debts and it was rumored he kept a pet bear in his room. Also while at Cambridge, he developed a great fondness for a choirboy named John Edlestone. Afr college, he resided at various places, including the family home at Newstead Abbey. It was here that the alleged "wild parties" took place at which Byron would make toasts with and drink from a skull cup. Legend has it that the skull, which Byron diovered at Newstead, was that of a monk. He polished it up and added silver plates.

The cup was "secretly buried" by a later owner of the property. Scrope Davies, Charles Matthews and John Cam Hobhouse were Byron’s closest college friends. They took pt in the wild house parties that had established Byron’s reputation as a living embodiment of the gothic ideal- a young and handsome Lord living in a decaying abbey who drank copiously from a silver cup made from the dull of a dead monk followed by sexuorgies with an in-house set of sex-slave servants. They had dressed up as monks for these festivities. This behavior was patterned on the reputation of the infamous Hell fire Club of fifty years before.

It was a sort of elaborate Halloween party. He fought a battle with obesity as well and often starved himself eating only one small meal per day. He seemed obsessed with food, as well as being a picky eater. His letters to others as well as his journals, indicate that he practiced starvation.   In his overnight success with the epic poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812) which led Byron to remark later that ;quot;I awoke and found myself famous.;quot; When I read these lines from.

It reveals a man who’s very soul is tormented suffering from his own inner pain. …There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,There is society, where none intrudesBy the deep sea, and music in its roar:I love not man the less, but nature more,From these our interview, in which I stealFrom all I may be, or have been before,To mingle with the universe, and feelWhat I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal…

The long poems that followed sold well and enhanced his reputation for being daring and dashing. The young bachelor had romances with several women many of them married. One of the women remarked that he was "mad, bad and dangerous to know." There waspeculation that he had an incestuous affair with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. This idea is furthered by themes of incest and forbidden love that appear in several of Byron’s poems. In the poem Manfred, he writes of the hero’s love for a woman who "like me in lineaments; here eyes / Her hair, her features, all, to the very tone / Even of here voicewere like to mine." This is apparent in the line Byron wrote in "Lara" "His madness was not of the head, but heart.

Brilliant, reckless, debauched, extravagant, handsome, Lord Byron was in the words of Matthew Arnold the "romantic hero at odds with the world and calling on all sympathetic readers to view the pageant of his bleeding heart. "Famous/infamous in his own time, he left England after divorcing his completely respectable and entirely incompatible wife never to return. He wandered Europe fighting for freedoms and tang his loves where he found them.

The correspondence and journals of Byron fill six volumes, and his letters have been described as "wildly exclamatory, heavily underlined, with pages blotted and blistered with tears. Here is just one of the many love letrs he had written to a young women he had fallen in love with and lost to another. This love letter is of Teresa, Countess Guiccioli, at sixteen had married an old and wealthy Italian nobleman. She was golden-haired, poised, well-read, and gentle.

In819, when she was eighteen and he thirty-one, Byron met her and fell passionately in love. The affair created quite a scandal. No one was surprised that she was married, it was expected that Italian women had affairs. However, Byron stayed in her housalong with her husband, shocking society. Byron’s style of writing with his heart is very apparent here is this love letter.

My destiny rests with you;quot;Bologna, August 25, 1819;#9;My Dearest Theresa, I have read this book in our garden: my love, you were absent, or else I could not have read it. It is a favorite book of mine. You will not understand these English words, and others will not understand them, which is the reason have not scrawled them in Italian. But you will recognize the handwriting of him who passionately loved you, and you will divine that, over a book that was yours, he could only think of love.

In that word, beautiful in all languages, but most so in youAmor mio is comprised my existence here and thereafter. I feel I exist here, and I feel that I shall exist hereafter, to what purpose you will decide: my destiny rests with you, and you are a woman, eighteen years of age, and two out of convent, I wisyou had stayed there, with all my heart, or at least, that I had never met you in your married state. But all this is too late. I love you, and you love me, at least, you say so, and act as if you did so, which last is a great consolation in all events. But I more than love you, and cannot cease to love you. Think of me, sometimes, when the Alps and ocean divide us, but they never will, unless you wish it.

One of Byron’s most well know long poems was "Don Jaun" the story of Don Juan first appears in an old Spanish legend concerning a handsome but unscrupulous man who seduces the daughter of the commander of Seville and then, when challenged, kills her fher in a duel.

The poem begins "I want a hero"; that is  I need a hero for my story." Why given the glimpse of the time that we are given in stanzas 1and 5, why is finding a hero in this age difficult? Byron’s Don Juan is possible a parody of the rontic hero acted upon rather than active, putty in the woman’s hands, terrorized by her outraged husband, caught in comical situations that strip him of any supposed dignity. but if he’s not the kind of hero to be feared and respected, is there neverthess something attractive about him? And is he in part likable for the very things that make him not a traditional hero? If so, is there a positive side to ;quot;wanting;quot; a hero? Also is should be noted that in stanza 1 the pronunciation of the hero’s name ymes with "newone" and "trueone." Byron clearly expressed his own life in his version of Don Juan in turning the anti-hero into a hero.

It was his way of protecting younger boys from the same early sexual knowledge he had been exposed to. ;I can see many displays in Don Juan that would suggest Lord Byron wrote about his own experiences in life. Here is yet another good example to show his inner pain being directly related to himself. In stanza 61 Donna Julia is presented with a mixture sincerity and fun.

The elevated though rather conventional praise of the woman’s beauty is suddenly deflated by the sudden lowering of tone in the last. The comic reversal, however, makes fun not of Donna Julia but of the poet, laughing at the lover’tendency to idealize (and at the embodiment of such idealization in the love sonnet) and bringing love down to a matter-of-fact human level.

	Donna Julia herself, however, still follows the pattern of the idealized heroine. Donna Julia is portrayed to be pretty, gentle, sweet, sexually-attractive and even sexual responsive but also passive, submissive, self-sacrificing, and accepting of herate to the point of victimization.

In the early episode, Donna Julia breads somewhat out of this role by being the older (23 years old!) married woman and not the innocent girl. Byron thus somewhat reverses gender roles and has the sexually mature woman take a me active role in seducing the naive and innocent young man.

I believe that Lord Byron was expressing is own pain of the sexual abuse he endured bMay Grey at school in his earlier childhood in the character Donna Julia. So in my opinion of all I have discovered about this literary poet is that Lord Byron was not born with a talent for writing poetry. He however did write from his own heart. Whh is what a truly brilliant poet must do. Had he not have been exposed to physical and sexual abuse in his youth. I feel there is a good possibility he would have never written a single poem He would have had a different profession altogether along wh an entirely different life style. The world was blessed with the many poems of Lord Bryon but only through the suffering of another human being.

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