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Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,510 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage is a long poem about a traveling young man who journeys across the world to combat his disillusionment with his own society. Since the title character is a "childe", it means he was a noble who forgoes his destiny back home for the exciting unknown. It's also eerily similar to Lord Byron's own life story, of a man who traveled across Europe to ...more
Paperback, 230 pages
Published June 12th 2006 by Echo Library (first published April 1st 1812)
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Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is my favorite work by Lord Byron. Hands down. No contest. I revisit it often to read favorite sections.

Via the character of Childe Harold, and later simply as himself, Byron explores the world. He visits places like Spain, Turkey, and of course, Greece. He also muses on great historical figures like Napoleon. Think of this as the ultimate road trip epic, set via 19th Century Romanticism. Do you like movies like Easy Rider? This work is in the same vein.

The language is more accessible
WhatIReallyRead (Anna)


Apparently, privileged young people have always thought themselves so special they could not possibly fit into society, hence the pose of a distant critical observer, bored and disenchanted. They have always felt tortured by doing absolutely nothing, and when this terrible pain could be tolerated no longer, they took to traveling and blogging about it.

This was written in 1812 but honestly, I see it on Instagram every day.


Reading Childe Harold's
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Like many literature students, I first encountered Childe Harold in a shortened version. In 2010 I read the last two cantos and I really didn't like it. I still think it is easy to get lost in the language and it is difficult understand what Byron is trying to say, even going over the last two cantos again it was difficult. But after taking my sweet time trying to follow the narrative, I gained a heavy appreciation for this work. I recently read all four cantos and I think the first two cantos ...more
B. P. Rinehart
""For who would trust the seeming sighs
Of wife or paramour?
Fresh feeres will dry the bright blue eyes
We late saw streaming o'er.
For pleasures past I do not grieve,
Nor perils gathering near;
My greatest grief is that I leave
No thing that claims a tear.

For a poem with a reputation for crass "emo-ness," this was not as bad as I figured. I mean this is literature from the English Romantic movement so "emo" comes with the territory. I'm not a big fan of this genre outside of John Keats, but I may add
Czarny Pies
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Supporters of Greek Indpendence or the Risorgimento
Shelves: english-lit
After greatly enjoying listening to Berlioz's "Harolde en Italie" for over fifty years, I finally decided to read Byron's poem several days ago. It was a great delight, albeit not as great as Berlioz's symphony.

Began in the dying years of the Napoleonic War, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" is a clarion call by a youthful Whig aristocrat urging his fellow British noblemen to embrace the cause of liberty in Europe. Amongst many other things, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" vigorously denounces Lord
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was the poem that set Byron on his meteoric course as Don Juan bursting into formal Napoleonic London society like a guided missile. Everyone was reading it, from literate serving girls and parlour maids to the top nobs. It's difficult to believe these days that it sent women into fainting fits. But if you exercise a little imagination you can think yourself back into the mindset of two hundred years ago and get a thrill from it even now, and know that you're reading something worth ...more
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Childe Harold may be the epitome of romanticism, but also of how poorly romanticism has aged. The concept of the work is fascinating-- a travelogue in the form of Spencerian epic verse. Byron's prose endnotes often read more like standard travel writing, and contain some wonderful anecdotes such as encounters with Turkish youth who quizzed him on the structure of Parliament. Some scattered passages are thrilling songs of Byron's self on a thread of expressive works with Wordsworth and Whitman. ...more
Doug D'jay
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dark at the end. I have found another kindred spirit. I haven't read poetry since high school, and read this to see why the Greeks hold (held?) him in such high esteem. That much is clear. (And the great Ada, who I hope will be my daughters' muse, makes a surprise appearance.)


Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chase, And marvel men should quit their easy chair, The toilsome way, and long, long league to trace. Oh, there is sweetness in the mountain air And life, that bloated Ease can
Hands up everyone who, like me, thought that Childe Harold's Pilgrimage was going to be about, oh, I don't know, a young soon-to-be-knight tramping around Europe and going on grand adventures? I feel like there should be a big sign at the end of the book saying, 'HA HA. Sucked in'.

Don't get me wrong, Byron's first major work is absolutely wonderful - just not in the way I was expecting. It's been so long since I've read poetry that I had more or less forgotten the whole point of the Romantics
Laura McNeal
It's not a breeze to read this if you live in our century. People who went mad for Byron two hundred years ago read long-form poetry, the Bible, Latin, and Greek as a matter of course--that's what it meant to read. They sat in church a lot. Four references to mythological heroes/Roman history/Italian poets in a single couplet? UP OUT OF THE SADDLE. BRING IT. I CAN DO THIS ALL DAY. But we're the children of Seuss. We've not been taught that reading is a mountain we climb to see the distant, ...more
- ̗̀ ash  ̖́-
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: school
I only read "Apostrophe to the Ocean" in this, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Ira Bespalova
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: had-to-read
Byron is a true genius. That's what I found out after reading this book. He reminded me of Pushkin in some way.
Unfortunately, I read The Pilgrimage in Russian, I'm sure I've lost a good deal. The reason is that I just didn't dare to read it in the original with many archaic words that I would have failed to understand. Nevertheless, even in Russian the book didn't lose its charm!
Together with Childe Harold the book carries you to places like Spain, Greece and Turkey.
It's a breathtaking
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Hark! Tyrant Time: ‘gainst thy e’er shrinking spheres -
Thou Cosmarch of an aeon, a year, an hour -
Borne by the raging Mistral, rends and tears
The Canso of one lonesome troubadour:
Byron – whose Soul withstood the awesome Power
Which mighty Empires its black wrath incurred.
Brief flared their frenzied flame, briefer the Giaour;
Worthy their clay, yet worthier his Word
That garlandeth this lay with a Picardy third.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
'Tis night, when Meditation bids us feel
We once have loved, though love is at an end:
The heart, lone mourner of its baffled zeal,
Though friendless now, will dream it had a friend
Who with the weight of years would wish to bend,
When Youth itself survives young Love and Joy?
Alas! when mingling souls forget to blend,
Death hath but little left him to destroy!
Ah! happy years! once more who would not be a boy?
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Beautiful as a work of poetry, and it would be beautiful as a tour guide if I possessed the street knowledge of the time. As a modern reader a lot of the references go right over my head, so if this book were to contain a map with references to the text I'd jump for join.
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, romanticism
As soon as I finished reading this, I gave it 4 stars. Having let it sit in my mind for a bit and now as I sit down to write this review, I’m going to change it to 5. The poetry itself (in four cantos) is very good and I’d rate Byron’s work a solid 4. However the notes in the edition I read were spectacular and pushed my rating up. The almost 100 pages of notes include history, social issues, and contemporary commentary. They are written in English, Latin, classical Greek and Italian, and cite ...more
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, english-lit
"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none interludes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can never express, yet
Can not all conceal."

(I am currently reading a complete collection of Byron, but as I did with Keats, I'll review the longer works
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Here let me sit upon this massy stone,
The marble column's yet unshaken base!
Here, son of Saturn, was thy favourite throne!
Mightiest of many such! Hence let me trace
The latent grandeur of thy dwelling-place.
It may not be: nor even can Fancy's eye
Restore what time hath laboured to deface.
Yet these proud pillars claim no passing sigh;
Unmoved the Moslem sits, the light Greek carols by.

But who, of all the plunderers of yon fane
On high, where Pallas lingered, loth to flee
The latest
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Apr 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
This is an epic poem in four Cantos about a young man, disillusioned with life, who goes on a tour of Europe, reflecting on wars fought in various countries and their histories, and ultimately deciding that life sucks, and there is no love or peace to be found anywhere. (Yay. So it's a happy poem.) There are many references to a hidden emotional pain of Harold's that forced him to leave England and haunts him wherever he goes, marring his enjoyment of life. What that painful secret is, we never ...more
John Redmon
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I went into this poem believing Byron to be a hedonistic, nihilistic, genius. After reading, I can't say that I've errored in that view, nor that I've changed my opinion much, but I will allow that I now place far more emphasis upon his singular genius. Cantos I and II are overshadowed by III and IV which are genius. The latter cantos place you deep within the psyche of this man. Poor Byron. He struggled so much with life, yet Harold shows he found humility; humility that hopefully led to some ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This poetry was difficult for me to get through. I found it hard to understand, and very time-consuming. I read it for a class, and probably would not have finished reading it if it had not been required. But once we discussed Byron and his poetry as a class, it made much more sense to me, and I am glad I read it!

"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" is an interesting story about Byron's quest of experience and love of nature. It also reveals a lot about Byron himself (his insecurities, his
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ever since sixth form in New Zealand I've been a huge fan of Lord Byron. Our English teacher managed to bring Byron alive in a way that no other English teacher I've had has brought a literary figure to life. Thus, reading the whole poem from beginning to end was as much a pilgrimage back to sixth form as it was a pilgrimage for the poet across Portugal, the Aegean and Greece.
The poem is split into four Cantos, and you can either choose to read canto by canto here and there or read the whole
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Of course this poem was good (I mean, it's Byron, he can do no wrong in my girlish eyes), but I don't know, I didn't like it as much as a lot of his later stuff. In Don Juan things HAPPEN, if you know what I mean. Childe Harold just kind of wanders around and sighs and looks at things and sighs a bit more. Which is all very well and good, but gets a bit wearing after a while.
Madeeha Maqbool
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Byron has got to be one of my most favourite poets, in spite of the fact that I don't really like poetry. Rudeness, combined with talent and the glamour of his real life. What's not to like?
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Dear Lord Byron,

You are so freaky. I love you. Let's run away to Italy together and cause a scandal. Come on... we're both dog people. Let's do it.

Nathalie Raffray
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
One star because some of the stanzas read like puzzles. One star because I LOL’d when Byron got so caught up with the importance of his own meandering thoughts that he forgot about his protagonist, and then reintroduced him back into the poem very clumsily. Which is ok because he basically discards him all together in the last canto. Alright I guess it was no big surprise that Childe Harold was basically Byron all along. One star because I love the end of Canto I. Otherwise this poem is ...more
Beth Roberts
I was looking forward to this -- I loved _Don Juan_ -- but I was disappointed. The first 2 cantos (of the 4-canto poem) are especially annoying, even though they were the making of Byron's reputation. Much consciously antique language and syntax combined with Byron's inchoate sense of what he was trying to do (is this a narrative? a political commentary? a travelogue?) left me struggling to make myself carry on. In the second 2 cantos, written several years later, Byron was clearly in control of ...more
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading this without getting a better grasp of the several historical contexts Byron writes his praises about was a massive blunder on my part, but despite my ignorance in the field, it didn't preclude me from delving into the main themes of the poem. Byron appears repetitive, long drawn and a tad boring at a first glance, but his distinct style and mastery of periphrases pays off in the long run. The length was neither too long nor too short for my tastes, and even without the aid of notes, the ...more
Jonas Perez
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love the content, structure, strength, and aggressiveness of the poetry. It is raw and thick and inspiring. Yet its subject and scope is an infinite space belligerent and resistant to Bryon's power. It doesn't all fit within the meter, or the rhyme, or the words, or the thoughts. Brave, and admirable to say least. The work as a worshiper of time itself, had lived up to the strength of its influence and praise. I'd recommend it to all poets, it represents a brink and brick in a bridge from ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Admired it when I was a teenager. Today not as much. Nevertheless, Byron is a decent poet and that saves this pilgrimage from becoming boring. He is feeling sorry for himself and that borders on boredom, but I don't think that the line is crossed. I guess that depends on personal interpretation. Some parts are quite moving. Not his finest hour, however. My mind is not willing to follow his at times, you know when you just don't care to see all the references. For the time being, I prefer him ...more
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George Gordon Byron (invariably known as Lord Byron), later Noel, 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale FRS was a British poet and a leading figure in Romanticism. Amongst Byron's best-known works are the brief poems She Walks in Beauty, When We Two Parted, and So, we'll go no more a roving, in addition to the narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. He is regarded as one of the greatest ...more
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”
“Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt
In solitude, where we are least alone.”
More quotes…