|The Greek flag. |
Lord Byron is considered a national hero in my home country of Greece. Byron was captivated by the Greek struggle for independence and eventually moved to Greece and took part in the campaign. Byron battled along side the Greeks and eventually died in Messolongi while still actively participating in the revolution. In ‘The Isles of Greece’ he writes of the culture and of the history of the Greeks, honoring their ancestry and rich heritage. A Greek reading this poem can tell that Byron had lived in Greece and experienced the country first hand, he uses historical and mythological events correctly and captures the passionate voice of the Greek people. Essentially one could say that Byron fiery temperament found its home in the angry mountains and seas of Hellas and he belonged. As a Greek this is my interpretation and thoughts about the poem:
Byron begins the poem with two stanzas that takes us back the past glory and valor of the ancient world: “But all, except their sun, has set”. The western world studies and treasures the products and the light shed by this lost world but “their birth place alone is mute”, no more is it at its peak. In the third stanza we have Byron’s first direct reference to the independence efforts, he writes “I dream’d that Greece might yet be free”, while standing at the locations of a tremendous battle, such as that of Marathon or that of Salamina (refer to notes below) -described in the fourth stanza-, he feels that this land cannot be enslaved. A revolt must take place.
On from the fifth stanza Byron goes on a disappointed and angry outburst about the lack of action prior to this point in history, this is a perspective he shared with the members of the Resistance. How could our ancestors have fought and died so courageously for our freedom yet we seem unable...