Poem introduction

'Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage' was a vehicle in which Byron could describe his travels and express his own opinions about a great variety of subjects, without actually using his own name – at least until the fourth canto, when he came out and spoke in his own persona. (The archaic word 'Childe', spelt with an ‘e’ at the end, means the son of a nobleman – not a very heavy disguise for the author.) I’m going to read the famous extract from canto III about the Battle of Waterloo, fought in June 1815. Byron wrote it during his travels in Europe in May 1816, less than a year later, when he visited the battlefield. The scene begins with the ball that was held on the night before the battle.

Take a tour

Rachel Smith's tour

Visiting the Poetry Archive feels like browsing through your favourite bookshop and finding that all the books are now...

Take Rachel Smith's tour >