Fare Thee Well

Fare Thee Well

By Lord Byron

Alas! they had been friends in youth:
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain;
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain;

But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining –
They stood aloof, the scars remaining.
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between,
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been.”
Coleridge, Christabel

Fare thee well! and if forever,
Still forever, fare thee well:
Even though unforgiving, never
‘Gainst thee shall my heart rebel.

Would that breast were bared before thee
Where thy head so oft hath lain,
While that placid sleep came o’er thee
Which thou ne’er canst know again:

Would that breast, by thee glanced over,
Every inmost thought could show!
Then thou wouldst at last discover
‘Twas not well to spurn it so.

Though the world for this commend thee –
Though it smile upon the blow,
Even its praise must offend thee,
Founded on another’s woe:

Though my many faults defaced me,
Could no other arm be found,
Than the one which once embraced me,
To inflict a cureless wound?

Yet, oh yet, thyself deceive not;
Love may sink by slow decay,
But by sudden wrench, believe not
Hearts can thus be torn away:

Still, thine own its life retaineth,
Still must mine, though bleeding, beat;
And the undying thought which paineth
Is – that we no more may meet.

These are words of deeper sorrow
Than the wail above the dead;
Both shall live, but every morrow
Wake us from a widowed bed.

And when thou wouldst solace gather,
When our child’s first accents flow,
Wilt thou teach her to say “Father!”
Though his care she must forego?

When her little hands shall press thee,
When her lip to thine is pressed,
Think of him whose prayer shall bless thee,
Think of him thy love had blessed!

Should her lineaments resemble
Those thou never more may’st see,
Then thy heart will softly tremble
With a pulse yet true to me.

All my faults perchance thou knowest,
All my madness none can know;
All my hopes, where’er thou goest,
Wither, yet with thee, they go.

Every feeling hath been shaken;
Pride, which not a world could bow,
Bows to thee – by thee forsaken,
Even my soul forsakes me now:

But ’tis did – all words are idle –
Words from me are vainer still;
But the thoughts we cannot bridle
Force their way without the will.

Fare thee well! thus disunited,
Torn from every nearer tie.
Seared in heart, and lone, and blighted,
More than this I scarce can die.

Summary of Fare Thee Well

  • Popularity of “Fare Thee Well”: Written by the English Romantic icon, Lord Byron, this beautiful poem comprising a total of fifteen stanzas appeared in 1816. It was written in response to his separation from his beloved wife, Annabella Milbanke, with whom he separated in the same year. He composed these verses to declare that he composed the first and last verses in honor and love of his wife. Shortly after its publication, Byron left England never to return to see his wife and daughter. The beauty of the poem lies in his last-ditch efforts to repair old romantic ties with his wife though these efforts ended in smoke. The popularity of the poem lies in the intense expression of his feelings, his care of his daughter, and the memories of how they lived a good life together.
  • Fare Thee Well” As a Representative of Separation in Conjugal Life: Two epigraphic stanzas cited in the beginning of the poem shows the emotions of Byron and how he feels the pain of separating from his beloved wife. This shows his sorrow and the depth of his sadness. His emotions also reflect the epigraphic emotions that Coleridge has expressed in his poem, “Christabel.” Saying a final farewell to his wife, he states that although she has decided not to forgive him, he would never rebel against her love and would continue loving her. Showing his intimacy with his wife, Byron goes on to state that the world always sided with her though it has pained him. However, he admits that his mistakes have rather disfigured him and caused him discomfort. Despite this admission, he continues posing himself as a victim of her coercing separation saying she has torn his heart which is quite painful to him. He thinks that his words are expressing deep sorrow after which he expresses his thoughts about their daughter and how they used to take care of her. Making her the center of his attention, he continues with his emotions saying that his hopes and feelings will go with him, and now that he is left alone, the words are just idle and vain. Therefore, he says farewell and leaves as it is even worse than death.
  • Major Themes in “Fare Thee Well”: Conjugal life, painful separation, and love for siblings are three major themes of this poem. Although the poem shows only the pain of the poet and his admission that he has committed mistakes during their conjugal life, he is of the view that he has loved his wife more than he has expressed. This is clear from his pleas made through the expression of love for his sibling; his only daughter. He knows that his wife would never forgive him as she is quite unforgiving to him. True to his style, Byron also proved true to his words. He left England shortly after writing this poem which shows how separation pained him and how conjugal life and its failure ruined a great poet. Yet, his expression of love for his daughter shows that he rather missed that blissful life.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Fare Thee Well

lord byron has excellently used various literary devices in this poem. Some of the major literary devices used in this poem shows as follows.

  1. Anaphora: It is a device that means to repeat phrases or clauses in the beginning of verses to stress upon the main idea. The poem shows the use of several examples of anaphora, such as “When her” or “All my” or “Think of him.”
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “Fare thee well! and if forever” and the sound of /o/ in “While that placid sleep came o’er thee.”
  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession, such as the sound of /f / in “forever, fare”, or /b/ in “bared before” or /th/ in “then thou” or /m/ in “my many” or “must mine.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /l/ in “When her little hands shall press thee” and the sound of /r/ in “Words from me are vainer still.”
  5. Epigraph: It is a device that refers to a sentence, stanza, phrase, or word from some other author that relates to the main idea of the poet or the written piece. This poem shows an epigraph from “Christabel” by Coleridge.
  6. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Lord Byron has used imagery in this poem such as “When her little hands shall press thee”, “Those thou never more may’st see” and “With a pulse yet true to me.”
  7. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. The poet has used different metaphors such as faults that have destroyed his face, or love compared to a heavy object that could sink into decay.
  8. Personifications: It means to attribute human traits to inanimate objects and ideas. The poem shows the use of personifications such as the heart that rebels or sleep that comes over.
  9. Rhetorical Question: This is a rhetorical device in which a question is posed to stress upon the main idea and not to get a response. The poem shows the use of a rhetorical question such as “than the one which once embraced me, / To inflict a cureless wound?”
  10. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as heart, breast, world, faults, and sorrow to show the event of separation and the feelings associated with it.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Fare Thee Well

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows good use of formal and poetic and dismal diction.
  2. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Lord Byron has used end rhyme in this poem such as thee/thee and pressed/blessed.
  3. Quatrain: It is a Persian stanza having four verses such as the first or the last one or any other stanza such as this one.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABAB rhyming scheme in all of its fifteen stanzas.
  5. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are fifteen stanzas with each having four verses.
  6. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a sorrowful, loving, pleading, and then depressing tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when saying a final farewell to a person and expressing disappointment over it.

Fare thee well! thus disunited,
Torn from every nearer tie.
Seared in heart, and lone, and blighted,
More than this I scarce can die.