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Lines Written Beneath An Elm In The Churchyard Of Harrow

Lord Byron

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Added by: Maddy
In this poem Byron remembers his schooldays at Harrow, one of the great "public" schools of England. He attended Harrow between the ages of 13 and 18, and was very much happier at school than at home. His mother was a violent, unpredictable and abusive woman. His father, a sea captain known as Mad Jack, was dead. His main claim to fame is that he gave his name to the easternmost cape of Australia. Young George Byron's titled uncle, the fifth Baron Byron, was a crazy old recluse who lived in a huge moldering mansion built partly within the walls of, and therefore called, Newstead Abbey. (Nowadays its magnificent garden is open to the public.)

The old baron died when George was 10 and he inherited the title and estate but very little money. The grand house was let and George and his mother rented a cottage nearby. At ten years of age the emotionally battered child became George Gordon, Lord Byron.

The school of Harrow, with its old houses, halls and chapel, is on a hill. Byron made many friends there, and was hero-worshipped by a GROUP of smaller boys. Although at the time he professed an enrequited love for a somewhat older girl who lived near his Newstead home, it seems very likely that he had homosexual relationships with some of the younger boys and revelled in the adoration that they gave him.

Byron loved the old graveyard of the church nearby and spent many hours lying on his back on the tomb of a person by the name of Peachey, composing poetry. He published the poetry as "Hours of Idleness". It received very bad reviews. Byron responded with a poem of unrelenting satire called "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers" in which he effectively lampooned almost every notable literary person in Britain at the time. Fortunately some of them forgave his extraordinary rudeness, probably because of the precocity of talent that the verses displayed, and later included the young poet as a friend.

In "Lines written Beneath an Elm" Byron looks nostalgically back to his days at Harrow.

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