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George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, but more commonly known as just Byron was a leading English poet in the Romantic Movement along with Keats and Shelley. Byron was born on January 22nd, 1788. He was a great traveller across Europe, spending many years in Italy and much time in Greece. With his aristocratic indulgences, flamboyant style along with his debts, and a string of lovers he was the constant talk of society. In 1823 he joined the Greeks in their war of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, both helping to fund and advise on the war’s conduct. It was an extraordinary adventure, even by his own standards. But, for us, it is his poetry for which he is mainly remembered even though it is difficult to see where he had time to write his works of immense beauty. But write them he did. He died on April 19th 1824 after having contracted a cold which, on the advice of his doctors, was treated with blood-letting. This cause complications and a violent fever set in. Byron died like his fellow romantics, tragically young and on some foreign field.
Byron's free-spirited lifestyle combined with his rare poetic gift to make him one of the foremost figures of the Romantic Era. This collection of his poems, richly varied in mood and content, captures the essence of his great achievement. Among the thirty-one poems included are convivial song-like poems, love poems, travel poems, humorous and satiric poems.
Shorter works such as the famous "She Walks in Beauty," "Stanzas to Augusta" and "So We'll Go No More a Roving" are well represented. Also here are important longer works — "The Prisoner of Chillon," "Beppo," "The Vision of Judgment," all unabridged — and lyrics excerpted from Don Juan, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and the play Manfred. Taken together, these are poems that draw readers quickly into the passions, humors, and convictions of a poet whose life and work truly embodied the Romantic spirit.
When the first two cantos were published anonymously in 1819, the poem was criticized for its "immoral content", but it was also immensely popular.