A Little Byron For A Somewhat Gloomy Monday

I discovered these lines from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by Lord Byron while I was near the end my career at Fundy U and they struck a chord with me as I looked around and saw the false piety and hypocrisy of fundamentalism in the “world” in which was living at the time. Since then I have read them again from time to time when feelings of helplessness and weariness in pursuing the struggle against such an incorrigible system have again overwhelmed me.

I hope that if you too have ever sensed that you are alone in your struggle against whatever part of Fundistan you inhabited that these lines might give voice to a muffled cry that has sounded in your heart as well.

I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bowed
To its idolatries a patient knee, –
Nor coined my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.

I have not loved the world, nor the world me, –
But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
Though I have found them not, that there may be
Words which are things,–hopes which will not deceive,
And virtues which are merciful, nor weave
Snares for the falling: I would also deem
O’er others’ griefs that some sincerely grieve;
That two, or one, are almost what they seem, –
That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream.

It’s a good thing that I have faith that in the end of it all Jesus wins. My hope can be built on nothing less.

33 thoughts on “A Little Byron For A Somewhat Gloomy Monday”

    1. I don’t know what it’s like where you guys are at but here, most of the day, it’s been “wrist-slitting” weather.. j/k. It’s so gloomy weatherwise I have every light on in the house and it’s still not enough! I love all kinds of poetry, I think it’s a good way to express any emotion a person might be feeling. Sharing your sadness helps it to go away and sharing your joy multiplies it.

  1. …I would also deem / O’er others’ griefs that some sincerely grieve; / That two, or one, are almost what they seem, – / That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream.

    He’s right. There are two…heck, more than two that are what they seem, who grieve over the griefs of others. Goodness and happiness are more than pipe dreams. And I think those things can be found within the “crowd” he talks about. But the problem is, you’re wearing a mask, and they’re wearing masks, and we’ve all becomes so good at making and wearing masks that, beyond ourselves, we can’t tell who is and isn’t wearing a mask. The problem is further compounded because self-preservation demands we assume we’re the only mask-wearer in the crowd, lest we open up to someone we think is merely wearing a mask, only to find they’re really one of the “crowd.”

    So, depressing, maybe; but looking at it from the outside now makes me that much more thankful to have gotten out and found a place where people are genuine and so is the joy.

    1. I hear you, my friend. My problem has always been not being able to distinguish the mask from the real person, and being rudely surprised. Followed closely by not having any safe place to take the mask off. This has changed to a certain extent since I got married; I feel safest at home but most of the time I find myself putting up a front. If I put on the mask, I’m branded as ‘inauthentic’. If I leave off the mask, I stick out too much from the crowd (fundamentalism is *all about* conformity, even though God made us all unique). It took me a while to decide to throw away the mask and find a new crowd.

  2. Very fitting for this Monday in particular. 😥

    Of course, mentioning Byron to a fundamentalist (insofar as he registers on their radar at all) would only bring up that he was a sexual deviant (he had affairs but the rumors that he was incestuous and/or homosexual were never proven) and that he inspired demonic stories like Dracula and Frankenstein (nevermind that Frankenstein in particular plays into several Christian themes).

  3. Thank you, Darrell, for being the kind of man who turns to a classic work of literature for comfort. That takes depth, not that any of us are surprised you are deep! Yes, my good and helpful Brother, Jesus does win in the end. I am not all that bright, but I am in middle age. That has given me at least a long enough life, thus far, to see that chickens do come home to roost, the promises of God are completely true, and again, to quote you, Jesus DOES win in the end.

    Look up, Darrell. I feel so certain that Jesus is smiling at you. You have lifted so many.

    1. It didn’t actually rain where I am in Maryland, but the sky has been gray and gruesome all day. Turning on the Christmas tree lights and the outside decorations helped a little, the minute it got dark enough to provide an excuse.

  4. hahahahaha

    i love it when a fundie- hater gets all depressed! giving in to satan aren’t you! this is what you get for attaking men like dr. phelps dr. jones and dr. sumter! maybe you should abaondone your prozacs and demon rum and turn to the KJB! for your inspiration and comfort! 😈

  5. God bless you, Darrell. The words of encouragement were just what I needed today. There are times the struggle with my physical and mental illnesses combine with the stress of barely getting by; I get so discouraged. This helps.

  6. It’s grey and yucky here – and I’m in Australia!

    Anyone else thinking of the Rain God from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books? (Can’t remember which one).

  7. LOVE this!

    I’m embarrassed to admit that this English major, while I’ve read some Byron, had not read “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”.

    How fitting those words are:

    “I stood / Among them, but not of them; in a shroud / Of thoughts which were not their thoughts,” — How true of us as we began to become disillusioned with fundamentalism; how many times have we bit our tongue when someone we loved waxed eloquent on some fundy standard and we didn’t want to fight, but inside we were so frustrated because we couldn’t speak!

    “I do believe,/Though I have found them not, that there may be / Words which are things,–hopes which will not deceive,/And virtues which are merciful” — Virtues which are merciful!! Oh, wow! What a line! How “virtuous” does the fundy crowd believe themselves to be, and yet how cold and lacking in compassion and judgmental they can be, assuming the worst of other believers, dismissing them or denigrating them. But now I want to be both virtuous and merciful, righteous and loving. One does not, must not, negate the other – at least for followers of Christ.

    1. “…how many times have we bit our tongue when someone we loved waxed eloquent on some fundy standard and we didn’t want to fight, but inside we were so frustrated because we couldn’t speak!” Isn’t that the truth??? The majority of us have been in that situation time & again. Very well put, pastor’s wife!

      “Virtues which are merciful!! Oh, wow! What a line! How “virtuous” does the fundy crowd believe themselves to be, and yet how cold and lacking in compassion and judgmental they can be, assuming the worst of other believers, dismissing them or denigrating them. But now I want to be both virtuous and merciful, righteous and loving. One does not, must not, negate the other – at least for followers of Christ.”
      Again, very well said, PW!!!

  8. Here are my favorite excerpts from a Poem I just read titled:

    “Antilamentation”
    Regret nothing…
    not the cruel novels you read to the end just to find out…
    not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark, in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication…
    Not the nights you…sunk, like a dog on the living room couch,…crushed by lonliness…
    Regret…not one of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing…
    You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake…(you are now)*
    Harmless as a broken axe. Emptied of expectation.
    Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it.
    Let’s stop here…
    *I added this for flow… 🙂
    —Dorianne Laux
    From her book “The Book of Men, Poems”

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