I assume that if Lord Byron were alive today he’d be Justin Timberlake’s character in The Social Network, only more so. Charismatic and startling, but not someone you want to be around for any length of time. He was, after all, the inspiration for the phrase “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”. I’d never picked up this side of him from his poetry, but after seeing the odd documentary I realised that his romantic verses are all directed at different women not as a literary device, but because he tried to woo half the planet. Still, he comes across better in print than in the history books.
Well, most of the time. The below poem made me laugh quite a lot. It starts off ever so romantic. I’ve no idea whether it’s meant to be serious, but it does kinda fit. It’s directed to “A Lady, Who Presented To The Author A Lock Of Hair Braided With His Own, And Appointed A Night In December To Meet Him In The Garden.”
These locks, which fondly thus entwine,
In firmer chains our hearts confine
Than all th’ unmeaning protestations
Which swell with nonsense love orations.
Our love is fix’d, I think we’ve proved it,
Nor time, nor place, nor art have moved it;
Then wherefore should we sigh and whine,
With groundless jealousy repine,
With silly whims and fancies frantic,
Merely to make our love romantic?
Why should you weep like Lydia Languish,
And fret with self-created anguish?
Or doom the lover you have chosen,
On winter to nights to sigh half frozen;
In leafless shades to sue for pardon,
Only because the scene’s a garden?
For gardens seem, by one consent
(Since Shakespeare set the precedent,
Since Juliet first declared her passion),
To from the place of assignation.
Oh! would some modern muse inspire,
And seat her by a sea-coal fire;
Or had the bard at Christmas written,
And laid the scene of love in Britain,
He surely, in commiseration,
Had changed the place of declaration.
In Italy I’ve no objection,
Warm nights are proper for reflection;
But here our climate is so rigid,
That love itself is rather frigid:
Think on our chilly situation,
And curb this rage for imitation.
Then let us meet, as oft we’ve done,
Beneath the influence of the sun;
Or, if at midnight I must meet you,
Within your mansion let me greet you:
There we can love for hours together,
Much better, in such snowy weather,
Than placed in all th’ Arcadian groves
That ever witness’d rural loves;
Then, if my passion fail to please,
Next night I’ll be content to freeze;
No more I’ll give a loose to laughter,
But curse my fate for ever after.