May 31, 2011

BYRON'S LEGACY

Byron's Rock, Kefalonia
Solitude
To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, 'tis but to hold
Converse with Nature's charms, and view her stores unrolled.
George Gordon (Lord Byron)


Byron's Rock, Kefalonia
 "If I am a poet, I owe it to the air of Greece"
This is the literal translation of the Greek inscription on the plaque at Byron's Rock in Lakithra, Kefalonia. Having lived for a period of his life on the island of Kefalonia, Lord Byron is believed to have written several verses of "Prelude" and "Don Juan" sitting on this rock and gazing out to the open sea.
The gaze is, nowadays, interrupted by the airport runway, but it is inspiring nevertheless.
I am not sure that this is true - as far as the specific works are concerned - because Byron's arrival in Kefalonia came later than the publication of the bulk of the above poems. This was his last stay before setting off for Messolonghi to join the Greek Liberation Forces. (He died there in 1824).
It does seem likely though that one of his popular quotes was inspired by this view, regardless of chronological correctness:

“In solitude, where we are least alone.”

(the stamp image is "borrowed" from Google images and appears on several Byron bio sites)

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