How is Lord Byron a Romantic poet?
Lord Byron (or George Gordon Byron) was a remarkable English poet significantly associated with the Romantic Era. His Romantic worth is at par with his contemporaries like Wordsworth, Coleridge, etc. In his later works, he was deeply inspired by the poetry of P.B Shelly, another Romantic poet. Byron lived a short life, yet, a life filled with adventures and passions. He had many romantic affairs, including an incestuous relationship with his stepsister. His significant works include touching Romantic poems like She Walks in Beauty, When We Two Parted, I Watched Thee, etc.
Saturated with creativity, wild passions, disorder, chaos, irrationality, complicated emotions and fierce imagination, Byron’s work is a true representative of Romanticism. Nature and the super-natural are common themes in his works. Like other Romantics, he rejected the balance, order and harmony that was atypical of the neo-classical era.
One of his major contributions to the English Romantic movement was the Byronic Hero that first appeared in his famous work Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Byronic Hero is a romantic hero with some interesting features like a conflicted dark side, low birth status/often outcaste, a heart with deep-seated pain, sexually exciting and mystical personality, revengeful and self-destructive nature etc. (he is almost an anti-hero).
Lord Byron influenced many Romantic writers and his Byronic Hero appeared to be a significant character in many other works like Wuthering Heights by Emile Bronte (Heathcliff), Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Rochester), and many others.
Byron's greatest contribution to Romantic poetry lay in his development of the Byronic hero. The Byronic hero, often said to be based on Byron himself, exhibited many of the characteristics the Romantic poets most valued. These included an intense emotionality. The Byronic hero feels deeply. He is a deeply sensitive person and acts from emotion rather than reason. Because of his intense, often painful reactions to humanity and to his own inner soul wounds, the Byronic hero must wander alone. Like a good Romantic, he loves and finds solace in the wilds of nature. A mountaintop or stormy seashore feeds his suffering soul.
If Wordsworth began by exalting the common man, the rude rustic, Byron exalted the artist as a special breed apart, different from ordinary mortals. His greater sensitivity leads to great art—but at the cost of deep personal anguish.
The Byronic hero derives from notions of the sublime developed in the eighteenth century. The sublime is the feeling of awe and terror that one experiences while, saying, standing on the brink of a mountain staring down at a roaring waterfall. It is a deeply felt emotion, outside of the ordinary. The lone, suffering, Byronic hero is a far cry from the typical neoclassical hero, often a Greek or Roman military figure who behaved rationally and nobly at the center of society. The suffering and larger-than-life Byronic hero captured the nineteenth century imagination and influenced literature, art, and music.
Lord Byron's relentless pursuit of individualism and his insistence on living by his own values of personal freedom and hedonism characterize him as a Romantic poet.
Lord Byron's personal life is littered with stories of scandalous love affairs and broken hearts, and most of them are completely true. He himself would probably claim that he was simply living according to his own morals and that heartache is a natural byproduct of embracing all the pleasures that life has to offer him. Some scholars discuss his romantic relationships in the context of opportunism (he is quoted as saying of his affair with Clair Clairmont, Mary Shelley's stepsister "if a girl of eighteen comes prancing to you at all hours––there is but one way"), while others acknowledge his own deep attachments to the notion of romantic love. Lady Caroline Lamb, one of Lord Byron's conquests, called him "mad, bad, and dangerous to know," and their affair is one of the many that brought notoriety and infamy to Lord Byron's reputation.
Romanticism, as an intellectual school of thought, placed significant value on the rights of the individual and, more specifically, on beliefs like freewill and free love. Romanticism also acknowledged the unknowable power of emotion and nature. Lord Byron lived by these tenets, and he is well-remembered for his life as much as his verse.