Lord Byron's Poems

“Darkness” by Lord Byron: Humanity’s Self-Annihilation College

Written during The Year Without Summer of 1816, Lord Byron’s apocalyptic poem “Darkness” reveals a world of chaos and pervading death due to the unremitting darkness and cold from the blocked out sun, the result of the dust in the air from a volcanic eruption. In the poem, society has collapsed and the human population is fighting for life by burning wood and feeding on wildlife. Men die by the masses, and the last two individuals perish by looking each other in the eyes. The world is left barren and devoid of life, with only darkness left. With his poem, Byron depicts the penultimate scene of man’s existence after its selfish exploitation of nature. This paper will explore how in “Darkness”, Byron uses the speaker’s prophetic dream to depict the self-destructiveness of man’s selfishness and his frailty in comparison to nature.

The poem’s loose blank verse structure creates a steady, rhythmic pace to its progression, reflecting the permeating darkness. Iambic pentameter echoes the steadiness and monotony of religious sermons. Ironically, in the poem, “darkness” is personified and she herself has become the ruling, omnipotent force of “the universe” (82). Byron begins the poem by transporting the apocalypse from the safety of...

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