By Edna O'Brien
“How lengthy it’s taken for those mad, undesirable and hazardous writers to get together!”—Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle
Acclaimed biographer of James Joyce, Edna O’Brien has written a “jaunty” (The New Yorker) biography that fits her fiery and charismatic topic. She follows Byron from the dissipations of Regency London to the wilds of Albania and the Socratic pleasures of Greece and Turkey, culminating in his meteoric upward thrust to status on the age of twenty-four. With “a novelist’s knowing of pace and characterization” (Miami Herald), O’Brien captures the spirit of the guy and creates an indelible portrait that explodes the Romantic fantasy. Byron, as brilliantly rendered by way of O’Brien, is the poet as insurgent, inventive and lawless, and defiantly immortal. eight pages of b/w illustrations
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Extra resources for Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life
He went on to publish them in 1827, when he was 17 years old. It is hard not to smile. Yet the poem suggests how deeply the idea of memory as a necessary and disturbing source of poetry is embedded in his early ambitions. His preoccupation grew from his devotion to the charismatic Romantic ﬁgures (Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley) who had redeﬁned literature’s engagement with the past. He came to know their work just as they were themselves passing. ’ (Mem. ii. 475). Such a response to loss—the impetuous rush for solitude, the lonely cry followed by an act of memorial writing—would be repeated throughout his life.
9 But there is much falling in The Princess. When tears fall, as in and after the ‘Tears, idle tears’ lyric, with its ‘dying ears’ and ‘dying eyes’, they are given ﬁrst to shaking, like the long light across the lakes: She ended with such passion that the tear, She sang of, shook and fell, an earring pearl Lost in her bosom. (IV. 40–2) Tears are also ‘gracious dews’ that ‘began to glisten and to fall’ (II. 295–6). This falling with a terminal cadence is recurrent in the poem: the Princess herself, tumbling into a river, sees her robe ‘Rapt to the horrible fall’; the Prince remembers ‘that burnt sorcerer’s curse j That one should ﬁght with shadows and should fall,’ before ‘fall’ modulates to ‘ﬂash’—‘And with a ﬂash the weird affection came’; then his swoon takes a triply-stumbling cadence: ‘and dream and truth j Flowed from me; darkness closed me; and I fell’ (IV.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes ﬂying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. O hark! O hear! how thin and clear, And thinner, clearer, farther going! O sweet and far from cliff and scar The horns of Elﬂand faintly blowing! Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying: Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. O love, they die in yon rich sky, They faint on hill or ﬁeld or river: Our echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow for ever and for ever. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes ﬂying, And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life by Edna O'Brien