Lord Byron's Poems

Incompatible Imagery in Byron’s The Destruction of Semnacherib College

In The Destruction of Semnacherib, Byron uses different types of imagery to illustrate contradictory feelings about victory in war. In this poem, the complete demolition of the Assyrian people is described in both a horrific and peaceful way, demonstrating how success in war is always tainted with the atrocities of death on the other side. By striking the visual, auditory, and tactile senses with images of both destruction and peace, Byron captures the conflicting feelings of devastation at the destruction of the defeated side and contrasts it with the joy of triumph over the enemy. The interweaving of peaceful and devastating imagery in this poem conveys the bittersweet feeling of rejoicing in victory while experiencing the horror of death on the other side.

Visual imagery in this poem shows the atrocity of death in war but also uses simile as a reminder that after the war there is a bright future to look forward to. The haunting image of death is conveyed through “the rider distorted and pale/ With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail” (17-18). The image of a mangled and lifeless body on the ground shocks the visual sense and leaves one with a traumatic image of death, even if it is the enemy’s body. The detail of...

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