George Gordon, Lord Byron, began writing poetry in his youth. He published his first book of verse, Fugitive Pieces, at age 18, and he continued to write and publish poetry until his untimely death at 36. Although a lifelong poet, Byron did not consider poetry his primary vocation; he saw himself as a man destined to achieve greatness, primarily through helping end the oppression of various peoples, including the Spanish and especially the Greeks.
Byron's poetry is characterized by the experimentation and focus on emotion common among Romantic poets. He often tempers his avant-garde selection of subjects with poetic forms which hark back to older days, such as heroic verse, Spenserian stanzas, and a rigid rhyme scheme to invoke the classical world he loved.
Byron's poetry also is intensely personal, usually filled with autobiographical references. This self-portrait is often coupled with a sense of the larger world's political, moral, historical, or even natural situation. Thus, Byron makes his internal journey either a reflection of or a cause for the external world's circumstances.
Byron was concerned not only with the traditions of poetry, but also with his legacy in the poetic world. This helps explain his extensive self-reference in his works. The reader can develop some understanding of Byron's self-concept by looking at his protagonists, who usually are outcasts (through the work of others or by self-imposed exile) who do not fit into societal norms, but who simultaneously are heroic in nature and "larger than life." Through his poetry, Byron sought to create a persona who possessed qualities he may have thought the real-world George Gordon lacked.