Sunday, April 5, 2009
And thou art dead, as young and fair as aught of mortal birth.
Lord Byron really is a fascinating figure but a terrible poet, as Virgina W put it, "I'm much impressed by the extreme badness of B.'s poetry." (Apparently he was very capable of writing satire but was persuaded that poetry was his real strength.) Of the poems I've read I have yet to be moved, engaged or even vaguely interested by any of them.
Maybe I'm just not scholarly enough, but isn't there something profoundly lacklustre about a poem like She Walks In Beauty? And for all his wild ways I have to say I find him actually very stuffy. T.S. Eliot put it, "Of Byron one can say, as of no other English poet of his eminence, that he added nothing to the language, that he discovered nothing in the sounds, and developed nothing in the meaning, of individual words."
So it seems to me that the good Lord B is one of those figures, ever growing in numbers, whose greatest contribution to the world is their scandal laced biography. And thank goodness he did go off to free the Greeks from Turkish rule, do it with every possible partner, gamble away his fortune, and fall in love with 12 year olds, because frankly you have to work really on your extra-curricular activities when your literary output is that pedestrian. Face it, he is to poetry what Jacqueline Susann is to the novel.