How does the poem "When We Two Parted" build up a romantic atmosphere?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Lord Byron's poem "When We Two Parted" is a first-person monologue spoken to the narrator's lover. The title of the poem, "When We Two Parted," suggests before even reading the poem that the subject matter will be love, or more accurately the separation of lovers. The poem...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Lord Byron's poem "When We Two Parted" is a first-person monologue spoken to the narrator's lover. The title of the poem, "When We Two Parted," suggests before even reading the poem that the subject matter will be love, or more accurately the separation of lovers. The poem is written in rhymed meter that follows an alternating syllable count by line from six to five. This adds to the romantic atmosphere of the poem by making the reading sound like a fluid song of longing and care. Byron builds the romantic atmosphere of the poem by presenting the narrative of the two separated lovers in a way that does not immediately tell the reader what happened in their time together that made them have to part ways. The poem actually begins when they are no longer together: "When we two parted / In silence and tears." Beginning here, instead of when they are still together, makes the reader question what happened to them, immediately grabbing the reader's interest. While being careful not to explicitly say it until the last stanza Byron describes a affair that comes into the public's eye, thus shaming both lovers. Using sly phrasing, such as "Thy vows are all broken, / And light is thy fame: / I hear thy name spoken, And share in its shame," Byron sketches the outlines of the affair, building an atmosphere of suspenseful romance. Finally in the last stanza, which begins, "In secret we met - / In silence I grieve," we can finally make the assumption that this affair was not meant to be a love story for the public's eye. Byron's use of secretive phrasing throughout the poem lends hand to a romantic account of a historic affair. Read more about the historical context of this poem at the eNotes poem summary linked below.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team