victorian couple (2)

Poem: When we Two Parted by Lord Byron

Today, in my 19th century literature lesson we read the following poem by Lord Byron and I inmediately fell in love with it. I have a soft spot for certain romantic poems (not any by Cooleridge or Wordsworth) because they appeal very directly to the reader’s feelings. This creates a unique bond between the reader and the author: once again, literature proves ist universality and its power to unite human beings across time and space. Here is the poem:

When we Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow–
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shrudder comes o’er me–
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee so well–
Long, long I shall rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met—
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?–
With silence and tears.

I happened to had a dream about departing from my boyfriend that same night, so this reading just arose the (unpleasant) feelings I woke up with. But, there is no need for a fictional situation to feel identified with the author’s feelings. However, our professor suggested that this poem is dedicated to Byron’s half-sister, Augusta, with whom he was rumored to have had an affair. Obviously, we (hopefully) cannot identify with the frustration reflected in certain lines (In secret we met / How should I greet thee?) that comes with the relationship, but I also see the pressure from pretending, of abscribing to the English social rules – especially if we take into account Byron’s affairs that would still call our attention even in the 21st century!

So, hope this Romantic introspection brightens your Monday! Have a nice week y’all!

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3 thoughts on “Poem: When we Two Parted by Lord Byron

  1. Kris Merino says:

    Such a beautiful poem. Byron can certainly define the pain of impossible love better than anyone.

    And give Coleridge a second chance, what that man does with the sound of words is just amazing. That’s where he always gets me.

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