Byron’s Environmental Imaginings in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Document Type : Original Article


English Department, Lebanese University, Tripoli


Several scholars have tackled scientific fields that attracted Byron such as astrology, cosmology, geology, paleontology, catastrophism and global cataclysm. However, Byron's cultural ecology and interest in natural science have received scant attention. In fact, some of his works do craftily portray how culture and nature are interactively interconnected and how the natural world becomes a household, a dwelling place for humans and nonhumans. What basically enlightened him and was a poignant influence on his creativity was the growing trend toward industrialization and the increasing interest in science as the major determinant of reality. In this respect, Byron’s fervent affiliation with nature, upon which his creativity is dependent, deserves to be brought to the limelight – that is, his dwelling in and with nature. It is this understanding of man and nature’s dynamic cryptic interconnections that allowed him to reunite with the world and at the same time project a new mode of Being and dwelling in the universe. With particular reference to Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, this paper would attempt to highlight Byron's unique environmental imaginings by applying Martin Heidegger’s notion of dwelling together with Edward Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis. Doing so serves to support the argument that Byron is an environmentally attuned nature poet who chooses to dwell in nature—the oikos that enhances his biophilic temperament—to experience the transcendence that leads him to attain a unique oceanic feeling.
Keywords: biophilia, dwelling, Heidegger, oceanic feeling, oikos, transcendence