Although he was a Romantic poet, Byron saw much of his best work as descriptions of reality as it exists, not how it is imagined. Thus, the subjects of numerous of his poems come from history and personal experience. The “Darkness” was written to reflect the mass madness that arose out of susceptible visionary understandings related to the natural disaster of a volcano’s eruption. He also uses the themes of life and death to show its importance during the Romantic Era.
The theme of nature is also brought up throughout the poem which is another theme of the Romantic Era. The poem Darkness gives a view of the world in a way that it is sort of ending. The imagery throughout the poem gives life to the emotional responses of the speaker at the time. Byron takes advantage of the poem and the end of humanity and creates a vast description of these events. The poem starts out with the speaker stating “I had a dream, which was not at all a dream/the bright sun was quenched…” (1-2). Darkness” is a poem with different meanings it can be read as a mixture of an symbolic view of the end of times and an opinionated view about the ending of humankind. Here, Byron is mixing reality with the unreal visions of an illusion, like an introduction of what we are going to read, a dream with a real meaning about the corruption and degradation of humanity and its possible end.
The main ideas in this poem are the end of the world, the final demolition of everything emphasising the disappearance of light as it is said at the beginning of the poem: “The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars, Did wander darkling in the eternal space,”(2:3) The idea of the men becoming beasts is lightly remarked by this idea of total destruction, everything is fading and disappearing as the humankind is being tainted and ruined until becoming unreasonable beings.
The meaning of life in Byron’s work is based on how he views his own life, and depicts it as light. The theme of life is shown when he writes about the sun and expresses “The bright sun was extinguish’d” (BYRON 107). In this particular poem, he talks about the sun as it reflects life because as the light dies out, so does everything around it, meaning that light is essential for life. In the Romantic Era, the importance of life was everything to the romantics, and so they strived to live a successful, meaningful life before disease or illness took over.
Opposite to the theme of life, is the theme of death, which was also important to the people of this time. Lord Byron’s poetry often reflected the theme of death, as in his time many of his lovers passed before he believed they were supposed to. The theme of death is represented by the image of darkness that is seen when he writes “Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, and lifeless– A lump of death” (“DARK”, 21). Byron’s view on life at this time was very bitter, and the way he described it, it was based on his hardships in life, such as the death of one of his lover’s.
The themes of life and death are very significant in Byron’s poetry as it was mainly influenced by his life growing up in the era and his hardships during his time. As we can see, this is a poem with different meanings, the so called precise meaning – that about the overwhelming of darkness and the end of times- and the subjacent one – the meaning about the self-destruction and dishonesty of men: “The crowd was famished by degrees; but two Of an enormous city did survive, And they were enemies (…),(…); then they lifted up, Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld, Each other’s aspects–saw, and shrieked, and died—“ (55:66)