I enjoyed reading Byron’s first book of poetry, even though it was recalled before being published and all but four copies destroyed. It’s interesting (sad, funny, and hypocritical) that the edition I read was a photo facsimile of the Rev. Becher’s copy of the book. He was the one who told Byron that several poems were too risqué. In response, Byron recalled the print run and destroyed it. But, the Rev. kept his copy to himself and it has survived.
It was fun to read these early poems, which focus mostly on young love, passion, death and how one will be remembered. Some of his poems reminded me of some lines I wrote during college, showing that some of what makes us human has continued to be passed down through the generations.
One poem that caused Rev. Becher distress was called “To Mary” (p 17-19). It was an exciting piece about a former lover, that dwelt on their passionate moments. Somewhat mild by today’s standards in its choice of words, it remains thrilling and exciting. It shows an inkling of the passion, pacing and fire Byron will bring to his later works. It’s always cool to see a writer progress. It think “The Tear” (p. 43-46) also shows hints of the future Byron, using a single tear to show true and sincere emotion and honor, moving beyond empty words or actions.
I really liked a little fragment (1803) he had about how he wanted to be remembered:
Oh! may my shade behold no sculptur’d urns,
To mark the spot, where earth to earth returns.
No lengthen’d scroll of virtue, and renown,
My epitath, shall be my name alone;
If that with honour fails to crown my clay,
Oh! may no other fame my deeds repay;
That, only that, shall single out the shot,
By that remember’d, or fore’er forgot.