POET INTERRUPTED: DIFFERENCES IN THE EMOTIONALITY AND IMAGERY OF BYRON'S POETRY ASSOCIATED WITH HIS TURBULENT MID-CAREER YEARS IN ENGLAND1,2


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Abstract

Summary.The Dictionary of Affect in Language was employed to compare two parts of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, written before and after an interruption of several turbulent years in England. The post-interruption part of the poem employed fewer extreme emotional words and more abstract words than the pre-interruption part. In a second analysis, poems written during the interruption and poems written before and after Childe Harold were examined, along with it, in terms of emotion, imagery, and linguistic richness. Two variables—year and an interruption dummy coded as 1 for publications between 1812.5 and 1816.17—predicted observed differences accurately. Byron's poetry became linguistically richer, more abstract, and less passionate across time, and it was emotionally more negative and linguistically simpler during the turbulent years. Differences between the two parts of Childe Harold were best explained on the basis of time-dependent growth curves rather than the interruption.

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