Thoughts of a Catholic convert

My Photo
Location: United States

Saturday, May 07, 2011


I read about this poem, Manfred by Lord Byron, tonight in the novel I'm still reading, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. In the novel, Mr. Strange, a magician, keeps bumping into Byron in Europe and the two come to really dislike each other, the poet eventually writing this poem about a magician quite unlike Mr. Strange :). Wikipedia states ....

Manfred is a dramatic poem written in 1816–1817 by Lord Byron. It contains supernatural elements, in keeping with the popularity of the ghost story in England at the time. It is a typical example of a Romantic closet drama. Manfred was adapted musically by Robert Schumann in 1852, in a composition entitled Manfred: Dramatic Poem with music in Three Parts, and later by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in his Manfred Symphony, Op. 58, as well as by Carl Reinecke. Friedrich Nietzsche was impressed by the poem's depiction of a super-human being, and wrote some music for it .....

Manfred is a Faustian noble living in the Bernese Alps. Internally tortured by some mysterious guilt, which has to do with the death of his most beloved, Astarte, he uses his mastery of language and spell-casting to summon seven spirits, from whom he seeks forgetfulness. The spirits, who rule the various components of the corporeal world, are unable to control past events and thus cannot grant Manfred's plea. For some time, fate prevents him from escaping his guilt through suicide. At the end, Manfred dies defying religious temptations of redemption from sin. Throughout the poem, he succeeds in challenging all authoritative powers he comes across, and chooses death over submitting to spirits of higher powers. Manfred directs his final words to the Abbot, remarking, "Old man! 't is not so difficult to die." ...

You can read the poem here.


Post a Comment

<< Home