George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron — who later changed it to George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, English poet, towering personality, and leading figure in the Romantic movement — was born January 22, 1788.
“A man of genius whose heart is perverted,” William Wordsworth called Lord Bryon.
“The most vulgar-minded genius that ever produced a great effect in literature,” George Eliot called Lord Byron.
“Mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Caroline Lamb said of Lord Byron.
“The greatest poetic genius of our century,” Goethe called Lord Byron.
(“The greatest poetic genius of our century,” Lord Byron called Goethe.)
Byron was nine-years-old when he was introduced to sex by his nurse, one May Gray.
(Goethe did not go to bed with a woman until he was forty.)
Quoth Lord Byron’s friend, the fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, in a letter from Venice:
The most ignorant, the most disgusting, the most bigoted, countesses who smell so strongly of garlic that an ordinary Englishman cannot approach them. Well, Lord Byron is familiar with the lowest sorts of these women, the people his gondolieri pick up in the streets.
“Wonderful man! I long to get drunk with him,” reads a line from Lord Byron’s journal, regarding Sir Walter Scot.
The Irish actor Gabriel Byrne once played Lord Byron in a bad B movie called Gothic:
“As long as I retain my feeling and my passion for Nature, I can partly soften or subdue my other passions and resist or endure those of others,” wrote Lord Byron.
“Lord Byron — the 6th Baron Byron — club-footed and handsome, whose full name was George Gordon Noel Byron, was as much a genius of personality as of poetry. He was only thirty-six when he died, yet he had already grown overweight and flaccid, with thinning hair and abominable teeth. Nonetheless, every second town in Greece would name a public square after him.”
Wrote Harold Bloom.
But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
It’s strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper — even a rag like this —
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that’s his.
Wrote Lord Byron, brilliantly, in his long and incredibly complex poem Don Juan.
Lord Byron, one of the pulpiest of them all, 1788 – 1824, RIP.
I loved you once.