2 thoughts on “How does Lord Byron’s Poem “So We’ll Go No More a Roving” meter and from compliment the content of the poem?

  1. I’m going to quote wikipaedia but only in order to preface my response…

    n the letter to Thomas Moore, the poem is preceded by an account of its genesis. “At present, I am on the invalid regimen myself. The Carnival–that is, the latter part of it, and sitting up late o’ nights–had knocked me up a little. But it is over–and it is now Lent, with all its abstinence and sacred music… Though I did not dissipate much upon the whole, yet I find “the sword wearing out the scabbard,” though I have but just turned the corner of twenty nine.”
    The poem seems to have been suggested in part by the refrain of a Scottish song known as “The Jolly Beggar.” The Jolly Beggar was published in Herd’s “Scots Songs” in 1776, 41 years before Byron’s letter, and goes partially thus:
    He took the lassie in his arms, and to bed he ran,
    O hooly, hooly wi’ me, Sir, ye’ll waken our goodman!
    And we’ll go no more a roving
    Sae late into the night,
    And we’ll gang nae mair a roving, boys,
    Let the moon shine ne’er sae bright.
    And we’ll gang nae mair a roving.
    There is also the traditional sea shanty “The Maid of Amsterdam,” which includes verses and chorus such as:
    She placed her hand upon my knee,
    Mark well what I do say!
    She placed her hand upon my knee,
    I said “Young miss, you’re rather free.”
    I’ll go no more a roving with you fair maid!
    A rovin’, a rovin’,
    Since rovin’s been my ru-i-in,
    I’ll go no more a roving
    With you fair maid!

    YOu can see the relationship between this and the poem itself…

    So we’ll go no more a-roving
    So late into the night,
    Though the heart still be as loving,
    And the moon still be as bright.

    For the sword outwears its sheath,
    And the soul outwears the breast,
    And the heart must pause to breathe,
    And love itself have rest.

    it’s a shanty and Byron writes it to be sung in this way because it crates a dichotomy between the jolly metre and rhyme with the seriously depressed meaning behind it. The tension created within relationship between these two devices is what gave this poem its fame. It wouldn’t be nearly as special if the subject topic was jolly and it wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long if its metre came through as dour and depressed.

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