The Byron Journal

‘No love was left’: The failure of Christianity in Byron’s ‘Darkness’

The Byron Journal (2015), 43, (2), 131–140.

Abstract

This essay considers Byron’s short poem ‘Darkness’ in the context of a complex biblical tradition in which darkness signals both the presence and absence of God. I suggest that Byron responds to an established eighteenth-century Christian eschatological tradition that imagines the death of the sun at doomsday; he thus actively engages with the theological connotations of darkness in his vision of the end of the world. In failing to follow his apocalypse with millennium, Byron depicts a God who has consciously withdrawn Himself from His people, punishing the unrighteous with eternal darkness. This all-encompassing darkness functions, I argue, as a literalisation of the metaphorical darkness caused by humankind’s rejection of Christianity.

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Author details

Redford, Catherine