To me, there’s only one Lord Byron. Except for that other arsehole named Byron, but I call him Brian.
Byron, or Lord Byron as he came to be known, was a walking piece of poetry. Poetry that rhymed.
She walks in beauty, like the night /
Something something something bright.
Or tight, I can’t remember which, but it rhymed, unlike some of the stuff they’re writing today.
Something something something Tuesday /
Something something something whalebone.
Rubbish. Byron would never have tried to rhyme Tuesday with whalebone, it just wasn’t done, and he wasn’t going to be the person who started doing it. He was a grand man.
Some years ago, a friend of my wife, an agreeable woman named Lisa, was married to a man named Byron. It was his Christian name. He was an arsehole. And because of that I called him Brian.
Not only was Brian an arsehole, he never wrote a line of poetry in his life, just walked around like an arsehole.
If you ever met him, your first thought would be, “Well, this guy’s an arsehole.” Seriously, that’s what you’d think.
Lord Byron never did that. He used to walk around saying stuff like, “I wandered lonely as a cloud,” or, “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” He never wrote “water, water everywhere” himself, someone else wrote that. But just because you didn’t write something doesn’t mean you can’t say it. In fact, it’s written into life’s universal constitution that you can say whatever the fuck you want, no matter who wrote it. It goes like this:
“You can’t say that.”
“The fuck I can’t, Sonny Jim.”
So, while Brian was walking around like an arsehole, Lord Byron, a grand man indeed, was walking around exercising his inalienable constitutional human right to say stuff he never wrote.
In a cruel twist of fate, there are no photographs of Lord Byron. There are, however, plenty of photographs of Brian going around like an arsehole. But none of the great Byron; and the reason for that – and this is where fate’s cruelty starts to show itself – is because photographs hadn’t been invented.
And like fate, irony can have a cruel twist as well, and one of irony’s cruellest twists came about when Byron finally died and rose up to stand in the poetry section of heaven’s great halls, to join Shakespeare and the others – Tennyson and Shelley and Pound, Ezra Pound (who I always thought was a woman but the whole time wasn’t as she was actually a man) – the cruel twist of irony, as I said: two years later, photographs were invented.
If Byron had have hung about a couple more years, there would have been one, a photograph of him, and not just drawings, which people were forced to do while they were waiting for photographs to come along. But that was not to be.
Just to finally conclude on the photographic discussion, on a philosophical level, drawings were quite fine in themselves, but they proved problematic if you were trying to draw something that was happening because whatever it was would generally have stopped long before you were even halfway finished. Sooner, in cases where the police were involved or already on their way, and I think these issues comprised the major forces propelling the introduction of photographs.
So, yes, I give you Lord Byron, one of the world’s great poets and the inspiration for some of mankind’s finest technical achievements in the area of photography.