Something Unearthly

Lord Byron in Albanian Dress by Phillips 1813

 

I am reading Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by Lord Byron for the first time. I know Shelley well, and Keats, and some of Coleridge and Wordsworth. But all I knew of Byron was the poem She Walks in Beauty like the Night. Byron was a great traveler and the poem is more travelogue than narrative, but full of passages that speak to me, which is all I ask of a poem. Here is one:

 

But I have lived, and have not lived in vain:
   My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire,
   And my frame perish even in conquering pain,
   But there is that within me which shall tire
   Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire:
   Something unearthly, which they deem not of,
   Like the remembered tone of a mute lyre,
   Shall on their softened spirits sink, and move
In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.

Comments 5

 
Rosy Cole on Monday, 20 June 2022 22:13

On this theme, I have difficulty with Thomas Gray: Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air. It sounds poetic and is a truism. That's all. Everything (and everyone) in Creation has a (hidden) purpose and is here for the glory of God. Nothing more, or less. He sees. He determines whether we have fulfilled that, and encouraged others to fulfil theirs. As John Donne famously said: No man is an island. Neither do any of Earth's creatures live either to, or for, themselves. Does it matter, then, whether we are remembered?

On this theme, I have difficulty with Thomas Gray: [i]Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.[/i] It sounds poetic and is a truism. That's all. Everything (and everyone) in Creation has a (hidden) purpose and is here for the glory of God. Nothing more, or less. He sees. He determines whether we have fulfilled that, and encouraged others to fulfil theirs. As John Donne famously said: [i]No man is an island[/i]. Neither do any of Earth's creatures live either to, or for, themselves. Does it matter, then, whether we are remembered?
Rosy Cole on Tuesday, 21 June 2022 10:11

Perhaps I should have added that, nevertheless, I do feel this is a limpid piece of poetry you have chosen to share. Thank you! :-)

Perhaps I should have added that, nevertheless, I do feel this is a limpid piece of poetry you have chosen to share. Thank you! :-)
Stephen Evans on Tuesday, 21 June 2022 17:14

A comforting thought, and similar to the epitaph that closes Gray's poem. But then isn't an epitaph for remembrance?

A comforting thought, and similar to the epitaph that closes Gray's poem. But then isn't an epitaph for remembrance?
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 22 June 2022 15:26

An epitaph is a convention of respect. It marks a spot. How much it says depends on estate and fame in the world. It can't sum up the force of nature the person was, or speak of motivation and intention, though their unknown fire may kindle creation long afterwards. it's true, there is 'something unearthly' in each of us, a power unleashed that lingers namelessly in the air. We can hope and trust for good.

On a lighter note, the epitaphs that speak most character are the humorous ones. (Like Spike Milligan's I told you I was ill!.)

IWith regard to Gray's poem, the original title for this piece was Mute, Inglorious Milton. :-)

https://www.pilgrimrose.com/index.php/18-new-blog/716-english-languish

An epitaph is a convention of respect. It marks a spot. How much it says depends on estate and fame in the world. It can't sum up the force of nature the person was, or speak of motivation and intention, though their unknown fire may kindle creation long afterwards. it's true, there is 'something unearthly' in each of us, a power unleashed that lingers namelessly in the air. We can hope and trust for good. On a lighter note, the epitaphs that speak most character are the humorous ones. (Like Spike Milligan's [i]I told you I was ill![/i].) IWith regard to Gray's poem, the original title for this piece was [i]Mute, Inglorious Milton.[/i] :-) https://www.pilgrimrose.com/index.php/18-new-blog/716-english-languish
Stephen Evans on Thursday, 23 June 2022 01:35

I think what I want more than to be remembered is to have made a difference in something that continues. More like Whitman's:

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

I think what I want more than to be remembered is to have made a difference in something that continues. More like Whitman's: The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
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