© Alan Richardson 2017
(Note: NAR = Narrator. B is Byron, S is Shelley and F1-
NAR Early in 1818, for reasons of health and finance, the Shelleys left for Italy. The party included Mary’s two infant children and Claire, who had given birth to Byron’s child and now deeply regretted the liaison.
F2 A few minutes of pleasure but a lifetime of trouble.
NAR Another reason for the visit was to unite father and daughter. They all thought that the child would have a better life with her father – who considered his parental responsibilities.
B Is the brat mine?
NAR The child was registered, at Byron’s insistence as Clara Allegra Byron.
B Reputed daughter of Rt. Hon. George Gordon, Lord Byron.
NAR He agreed to raise Allegra – on condition that Claire cut herself from him and her child. However, his idea of raising his child was to send her to another house to be brought up by servants. Later she was placed in a convent where she died at the age of five. Claire vented her distress at Byron.
F2 A human tyger slaking his thirst inflicting pain upon defenceless women, who under the influence of free love, loved him.
NAR The Shelleys decided to stay in Italy, but the ever-
F3 I was a mother & am so no longer.
NAR He struggled with not only the loss of his children, but of his wife.
S My dearest Mary, wherefore hast thou gone,
And left me in this dreary world alone?
Thy form is here indeed—a lovely one—
But thou art fled, gone down the dreary road,
That leads to Sorrow's most obscure abode;
Thou sittest on the hearth of pale despair,
Where for thine own sake I cannot follow thee.
NAR The ending of the Napoleonic wars brought English visitors back to Italy to view the sights;
F3 The Coliseum.
F2 Lord Byron.
NAR Mothers would warn their daughters;
F1 Don’t look at him, he is dangerous to look at.
NAR Then crowd to salons to catch a glimpse of the wicked Lord. When he entered the room, some women reacted with horror (F1 does), some even swooned (F2 does)… to the dismay of their companions.
F3 (the curious sceptic) This is too much at sixty five years of age!
NAR Byron was now in Venice – a city of splendour… and moral decadence.
B A woman is virtuous here who limits herself to her husband and one lover.
NAR Even for a man of his stamina, it all became too much.
B I have quite given up Concubinage.
NAR And wrote another of his best known poems.
F1 So we'll go no more a-
So late into the night,
Though the heart still be as loving,
And the moon still be as bright.
F2 For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
F3 Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-
By the light of the moon.