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When We Two Parted By Lord Byron
Transcript of When We Two Parted By Lord Byron
WHEN we two parted
In silence and tears,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold, 5
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.
The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow— 10
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, 15
And share in its shame.
They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me—
Why wert thou so dear? 20
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.
In secret we met— 25
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years, 30
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.
His best known works are She Walks in Beauty, So, We'll Go No More A Moving, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and Don Juan. Explication!!! A brief lyric consisting of four short stanzas, "When We Two Parted" is a poem about grief and regret in which the first-person speaker mourns not only the loss of a romantic relationship, but also a loss of innocence. From the present tense, the poem looks back in time, to when the affair was ended. It also predicts the results of a possible future meeting of the two former lovers. In the first stanza, the speaker describes the pain of the ending of the romance. The tone in this stanza and throughout the poem is dark and bleak, with words and images that evoke feelings of depression and emptiness: the woman's pale cheek and cold kiss presage the depression now felt by the speaker. In the second stanza, the cold imagery is reinforced with the chilly dew foretelling of the narrator's future feelings of sorrow. Mention is made of the woman's broken promises, and the tarnishing of her reputation. In a letter from 1823, Byron refers to this poem and its relation to his 1813 flirtation with Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster. In 1816, when many scholars believe the poem was written, Lady Frances was scandalously linked with the Duke of Wellington. Byron had written earlier sentimental sonnets to Lady Frances and in "When We Two Parted" he appears pained to hear of her entanglement with the Duke. When he speaks of the vows she has broken it is possible that he is referring either to her wedding vows to her husband that Lady Frances has betrayed with her affair, or alternatively, promises she may have made to Lord Byron. He discusses as well the shame he feels. This could be viewed as an empathetic response to what his former sweetheart is going through. It could also be interpreted as a judgment upon her. The relationship between Lady Frances and Lord Byron was rumored to not have been consummated sexually, and perhaps the poet is, in his way, scolding her for having actually gone through with an adulterous affair. The third stanza speaks of the secretive nature of the affair, how others did not know of the narrator's relationship with the woman. Again the tone is dark, he hears her name as a "knell," an ominous toll typically associated with death. The speaker reveals the depth of his regret and predicts he is likely to retain such feelings indefinitely. "Why wert thou so dear?", a key line in this stanza, offers the only indication of the nature of the speaker's relationship to the woman. He has not even spoken of loving her; in fact the word love does not appear at all in the poem. But this question "Why wert thou so dear?" is the singular suggestion in the poem of the warm and positive connection the two people had shared. In the fourth and final stanza, the narrator once again refers to the clandestine nature of the affair and his grief at what he perceives to be the woman's betrayal. The future is once more referred to, with the portent that a future meeting with the woman would bring the speaker to tears, and would result in his continued silence. By this he refers not only to the fact that he no longer communicates with his former lover, but to the fact that he has never discussed their secret relationship and he will continue to keep his silence on the matter. This emphasizes the fact that while she may have defamed herself by being caught in another affair, he at least has handled himself like a gentleman by not revealing the truth about their own relationship with one another. The speaker expresses his grief that his lover has forgotten him, and emphasizing his betrayal with the lines "That thy heart could forget, / Thy spirit deceive." It seems unlikely that Byron is speaking of Lady Frances deceiving her husband. Rather, his betrayal stems from the fact that when Lady Frances did choose to commit adultery it was with another man, the Duke of Wellington, and not with him. The final stanza ends with a reiteration of the "silence and tears" phrase from the first stanza, emphasizing the speaker's sense of being frozen in this moment of betrayal and heartbreak. He was a British Poet/Politician.