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Darkness: Lord Byron

The poem ‘Darkness’ was first published in the year of 1826. This poem was inspired by a mass chaotic situation that was created by an Italian astronomer’s prophecy. He predicted that the sun will burn itself on July 18th which will be the end of the earth too.

Lord Byron was one of the most illustrious poems in the history of English literature. Though his writing style was quite classical, he is regarded as one of the greatest romantic poets along with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats.

Each and every poem of Byron is different from the other one but still, he tends to reflect some of the major themes. The characters and themes of Byron are regarded to be highly autobiographical. Every poem of Byron is inspired by a real person or place.

At that period the sunspots were increasing that’s why the prophecy got more and more attention with every passing day. The year 1816 was also regarded as the “year without a summer”. This happened because an Italian volcano, named Mount Tambora got erupted and covered the sun with its dust. The sun became pale and the whole sky became hazy during that time.

Lord Byron’s Poem Darkness Summary

In his poems ‘Darkness’, Lord Byron gives us an apocalyptic view of the world. This poem is a perfect example of a first-person narrative and it also has so many sublime imageries. The tone of the poem gives us access to the poets’ state of mind at the time of narration.

Byron took advantage of the ‘summer of darkness’ and created a hellish description of the end of humanity from the world. As fanatism was increasing as fear in the whole of Europe at that time, Byron took the opportunity and compared the reaction of the Israelites when Moses came down late from Mount Sinai.

The speaker starts his poem as a ‘dream’ but then he goes on to say that it’s ‘not all a dream’. The poet then captures the end of the world through a series of social, natural, and supernatural events.

The cheerless, cold earth wanes for weeks and months. Forgetting every ambition and desire, people started praying only for their living. Survival was the most they could get at that time. To overcome the darkness they began to burn everything, including their own houses. The burning huts and palaces gave light and heat which were the utmost need of that time.

The men became glad at first when they were around the fire but soon their faces filled with fear and despair. They began to weep, smile sceptically, and fall into the hollow of madness. Animals were dying helplessly, birds were falling from the sky like dead leaves, wild beasts were frightened and even the poisonous snakes lost their venom.

People were no longer the hunters and animals became their food. But when they run out of animal food, they started eating each other.

There was dead silence all over the world but without any peace. As survival was the only goal ‘no love was left’. Humans were capable of cannibalism. Even the dogs except noble canines turned on their masters. The canines can be seen protecting their masters from the scavengers until death laid its icy hands on them.

All the world became dead from famine. Only two men were there who were enemies of each other. They pathetically approached a holy alter which can not be burnt. When the fire was bright enough two men looked at each other and they were frightened to death seeing the horrid, starving face.

With the vanished mankind earth became a barren crag. The moon was destroyed and all winds stopped blowing. The earth became motionless and darkness conquered all ‘she was the universe’.

Darkness Lord Byron Literary Analysis

The pervading darkness has been reflected in the poem by the loose blank verse structure and rhythmic pace to its development. The Iambic pentameter pattern reflects the monotonous steadiness of religious sermons. Surprisingly Byron has personified ‘Darkness’ in the poem and made him the single dominant force of the world.

At the very beginning of the poem, Byron has put us in is the brutal reality, abandoning the luxurious life of dream. ‘Dream was not all a dream’ indicates that the content is highly significant than it is in the dream.

The poet beautifully and brilliantly makes a dream like a tone for the rest of the poem by bringing the elements of the night into day, such as ‘stars’, ‘rayless’, ‘black’, ‘blind’.

Byron uses fire as an element to portray the range of darkness and cold. Also, he shows the effects of these elements on society and made human suffering the core of the poem. Burning of ‘thrones’ and ‘palaces’, which are the metonyms, shows the social chaos caused by fear.

The vivacity of fire is described by the alteration as forests are ‘burnt for beacons’ in ‘fearful hope’ for aid. The hopelessness of man’s situation is expressed by the emphasis upon the beacons. Also, trees are used as beacons which are needed for warmth to keep on the survival even for a while.

Byron beautifully portrays the self-destructive nature of humans. Again alteration ‘fed/ their funeral piles with fuel’ emphasizes the self-consuming nature of human beings. Byron presents a picture where men are seen fueling their own funeral piles which ultimately calling their own doom.

‘Gnash’ and ‘howl’, the animalistic characteristics are attributed to human beings to convey the ferociousness. On the contrary, real animals are presented as helpless and innocent. This kind of contradictory behaviour indicates the selfishness of men.

Byron made this event as the beginning of man’s ruthless relationship with nature.
The fire also signifies disintegration in every man’s humanity. In the sterility of darkness, man has forgotten their passion and dream. Here fireworks as the symbol of the human spirit.

The degradation of mankind has been emphasized by Byron when he captured the remaining two men as the enemies of each other.

Darkness Lord Byron Romanticism

Technically ‘Darkness’ is a narrative poem but it carries all essential qualities of romantic poetry. Lord Byron, as a poet is quite classical in the manner but he was inspired by the romantics and followed them by his heart.

In the poem, ‘Darkness’ Byron exaggerates the concept of darkness and demise of mankind. This poem mainly represents the destruction of society which was the fear of the romantics as the result of the Enlightenment.

The dark reality wasn’t the reality of Byron in his personal life rather it was a prophecy of the situation going to happen after the Enlightenment. Byron beautifully and horrendously created the darkness by saying ‘The bright sun was extinguished’.

The darkness was so terrible that even the stars lost their way. This is a romantic way of saying how humans dealt with the severe darkness.

Instead of adopting the darkness men forgot their passion and ambition. They believed that the malicious darkness tarps people in the state of desolation.

Like the other romantic poets, Byron too celebrated the wilderness of nature because it was free from the human childish malice.

Lord Byron Darkness Theme

Byron combined all the natural phenomenons together to put the sensitive observers in a state of panic. This poem was composed after the announcement sun’s probable death date. It emphasizes the fact that the D-Day still lies one day ahead of us and it is yet to come.

Byron capitalized the hysteria by presenting ‘Darkness’ in that dark summer.
This poem reflects a pessimistic view, not only of human life but also of the whole universe. There is no particular moral of the poem except darkness consumes everything, regardless of their religious and moral persuasions.

There is no sign of the afterlife in the poem. The poem is without any hope of a bright future of society, only death covers everything with its mantle.

Darkness Lord Byron Symbols

The speaker begins this poem by detailing the incidents he encountered in his dream. As the poem takes the breathe we realize that it’s not a dream actually. Starting with changing the tone and appearance, the poet goes on to describe how the Earth is swinging out of control. Byron gives us a vivid description of the whole chaos by using several symbols.

The dreadful darkness has erased passions from human beings, all there is left if the tendency of survival. Even the brave hearts of men Frozen in the cold dark. Everyone was eagerly waiting for the light to enjoy the bliss of life again.

Talking about the human reaction of the fire, they just want this plague to be over. The poet used animals as a symbol to describe the brutality of the time. It can be said that the poem successfully prediction the world wars, the cold war, and the lack of unity among the countries.

Lord Byron Darkness Meaning

When we go through the poem we will find that destruction, greed and the end of the world have been highlighted in the poem. Throughout the poem, there are precise descriptions of the darkness snatching our peace. Soon the world is found without any resources of energy.

The poet places the light in the middle as the symbol of human existence. Slowly love joy, happiness, warmth, loss all their characteristics in the lifeless darkness. Besides ending mankind, it triggers the leaders to commit genocide.

By this poem the poet wants us to know the actual meaning of love. He argued that every passing day makes a man less human and more barbaric. They are becoming self-centred and selfish. It’s their own karma that the end of the world isn’t so far. The poet wants us to teach a lesson and behave properly before it’s too late.

Darkness Lord Byron Form

This poem is typically written in free verse which definitely lacks the rhythm in the pattern. This loosely blank verse provides the poem more steadiness and progression which is the basic demand of the poem.

No particular stanza allows the poet to forget about the strict norms and write of his heart. It seems that he is able to convey his feelings beautifully to the readers because of the form of the poem.

Darkness Lord Byron Questions

Why did Lord Byron write darkness?

Speaks to the true enormity of the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Tambora. The poem “Darkness” is highly representative of the Tambora Revolution itself.

How a post-apocalyptic landscape has been created in Byron’s “Darkness”?

The only light in the poem comes from the sun, which is bright and warm.
Byron describes the entire human race dwindling to two final people, who must work together to recreate Earth.
The rhyme scheme lends itself to a tone of danger and the tone is one of sadness.

What tone and attitude Byron uses in his poem “Darkness”?

The poem describes a post-apocalyptic world. The semantic field of darkness is expressed in a language like “darkling,” “rayless,” “blind,” “blackening,” and “moonless.”

The “desolation” of this world is characterized by its lack of natural light; in a quest for light, “watchfires” are built out of what had previously been “thrones,” “palaces,” and people’s homes. So great is the desire of the people to see each other that “forests were set on fire”.

How formal literary device and element Byron’s thought in “Darkness”?

Byron uses literary devices to make his poem super figurative speech. It brings richness to the poem. There are assonance, alliteration, enjambment, consonance etc

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