To Byron

To Byron

A poem from one poet to another. To Byron, written by John Keats, is one of the many poems that is the legacy of the English Romantic Poet John Keats. Consider Keats as one of the key figures of Romanticism and was not really a fan of Lord Byron.


Also known as the Romantic Era or the Romantic Period. This was an artistic, literally, musical and intellectual period at in the eighteenth century. During that period, there was a glorification of history and nature. This was a reaction to the First Industrial Revolution, that began in 1760. The period lasted until 1820. The peak of Romanticism was during the period between 1800 and 1850. People, mostly intellectual people, saw a change in the way people lived and the things that were important. Everything seemed big and the distance between places was diminished from days to hours.

About the poet

John Keats
John Keats. Image source.

John Keats was one of the leading figures of Romanticism in England. He was born on 31 October 1795 in Moorgate (London). Unlike other poets his work was not well received at the time he published his work. In the last years of his life, he was apricated more. Today he is considered one of the greatest poets ever lived. What didn’t help was the fact that his work was published during the last four years of his life.

After his death in 1821 (he was only 25), his work became more popular and would be a source of inspiration for many other poets. Natural metaphors that would cause intense poems, that is what Keats was all about.

Long after his death, his work is still analyzed by many. His series of odes are truly masterpieces. The poem To Byron is actually one of the many feuds between the two poets. In a letter to his brother George, Keats wrote about Byron:

You speak of Lord Byron and me – There is this great difference between us.
He describes what he sees – I describe what I imagine – Mine is the hardest task.

It is probably unthinkable these days, that a poet accuses another poet in this manner.

To Byron

By John Keats

To Byron

Byron! how sweetly sad thy melody!
Attuning still the soul to tenderness,
As if soft Pity, with unusual stress,
Had touch’d her plaintive lute, and thou, being by,
Hadst caught the tones, nor suffer’d them to die.
O’ershadowing sorrow doth not make thee less
Delightful: thou thy griefs dost dress
With a bright halo, shining beamily,
As when a cloud the golden moon doth veil,
Its sides are ting’d with a resplendent glow,
Through the dark robe oft amber rays prevail,
And like fair veins in sable marble flow;
Still warble, dying swan! still tell the tale,
The enchanting tale, the tale of pleasing woe.


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