Isn’t it funny how history and literature can paint some figures with a romantic patina, making them fascinating, even though we are aware that we would probably dislike them in real life? Do you have a figure that allures you like that? Mine is Lord Byron. He seemed so enchanting when I first heard about him as a teenager. Of course, the first verses I read were:
“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes…”
And I loved them. My thoughts at the time: his poetry ‒ oh, so romantic; ignoring the rules ‒ which teenager isn’t drawn to rule-breakers?; seducing girls ‒ fantasizing that I would be the one to tame him if I lived in his time; loving animals so much that he rebelliously bought a tame bear and walked him around Cambridge grounds when he found out that pet dogs were banned ‒ today, I would be enraged because of the poor bear but as a young girl who read that he had monkeys, horses, dogs, cats, peacocks and god knows what else at his palazzo in Venice, the thought that those all those animals weren’t loved and well-looked after didn’t even cross my mind. The list is longish. In real life, I didn’t like shortish, fattish guys as a teenage girl, and Byron wouldn’t have caught my eye. He wasn’t picky about his partners, female and male alike, and led a promiscuous sexual life, which puts me off. He was cruel toward girls he seduced, which is unforgivable in my book. But when you fantasize about a great figure, you don’t seem to notice the obvious. Isn’t that a funny phenomenon?
Anyway, Lord Byron said a few great things about writing which can inspire writers today.
Do you think all poets are slightly mad as he claims?
“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”
“We of the craft are all crazy.”
“That prose is a verse, and verse is a prose; convincing all, by demonstrating plain – poetic souls delight in prose insane”
The power of words
“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
’T is 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.”
Life is an endless source of inspiration
“Tis strange,-but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!”
But why write?
“But ‘why then publish?’ There are no rewards
Of fame or profit when the world grows weary.
I ask in turn why do you play at cards?
Why drink? Why read? To make some hour less dreary.
It occupies me to turn back regards
On what I’ve seen or pondered, sad or cheery,
And what I write I cast upon the stream
To swim or sink. I have had at least my dream.”
These quotes aren’t really inspiring but they speak to me when I am in a certain mood
“Letter writing is the only device combining solitude with good company.”
“If I could always read I should never feel the want of company.”
“In solitude, where we are least alone.”