Reading “Sun of the Sleepless” by Lord Byron

Note: As you might have seen on this blog, I have been working on literary analysis since pretty a while ago. I am not sure how reliable or how correct these analysis are. My goal is to keep a record of my writings here so over a longer span of time, it would be easier to understand how my writings are evolving.

Sun of the sleepless! melancholy star!

Whose tearful beam glows tremulously far,

That show’st the darkness thou canst not dispel,

How like art thou to joy remember’d well!

So gleams the past, the light of other days,

Which shines, but warms not with its powerless rays;

A night-beam Sorrow watcheth to behold,

Distinct but distant — clear — but, oh how cold!

The apostrophic poem is composed in 1814 as a part of the “Hebrew Melodies.” The author in the poem is addressing the moon. The poem is divided into two stanzas of quatrains. The rhymes are abab, a duality which is visible in the content of the poem as well.

The poem is begun with a metaphor “melancholy star” in its first stanza. Apparently Byron claims that it is thanks to the distant glowing of the melancholy star that one can notice the darkness of the ongoing night. He seems to have reversed the natural order here: I mean, the reason we see the moon during the night is indeed the darkness that is provided to us!

The second stanza, however, comes to be more explicit and seeks to convey the intended message by directly addressing the core issue playing in the poem: “the past and the present.” As the major dichotomy at work here is revealed, we come to a new understanding: The reason why there is discontentment about present is because of the way we remember the days past. Byron, whose fondness of Dante is quite known to everyone, has also translated a part of Canto 5 of The Inferno where Francesca of Rimini says:

And she said to me: No grief greater

Than remembering joyous time

In misery; and your master knows this. (My translation)

In the first line of the second the stanza, Byron seems to be indicating that the moonlight that we see at night is, as a matter of fact, the remainder of the daylight from the bygone days which is bright but powerless, since it’s too far. The poem comes to an end with a climax: The last line is composed of four adjectives describing the moonlight “distinct, distant, clear but cold!”

Why “Sun of the Sleepless?”

In a week from now, Europeans are going to polls for the European Parliament Election, which has so far been less of a concern to many European citizens. To many Europeans, European Parliament has been an institution which has no influence on their lives. The European Parliament, which is a newly established organization in comparison to many of the currently existing ones, is facing an important moment: It can either continue to live, despite all its existing flaws, with an ultimate goal of a more united Europe looking to bringing the people who live in it closer together; or it can be crippled and jeopardized by those who are seeking the days when each of the member nations had its own “sovereignty.”

The European Parliament may not have a visibie influence on the lives of the European citizens in the coming years if people vote to uphold it; However, those who seek the cold light from the past days, will use it to conduct their xenophobic agenda. The lights the sovereignists are looking at is the one that is distinct, distant, clear but cold!

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