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So We'll Go No More a Roving

Balance in all things is important, as Lord Byron learned after participating a little too enthusiastically in the Venice carnival. ‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’ (1830) bids adieu to the excesses of youth.

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So We'll Go No More a Roving

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Balance in all things is important, as Lord Byron learned after participating a little too enthusiastically in the Venice carnival. ‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’ (1830) bids adieu to the excesses of youth.

Published In

1830

Written by

Lord Byron.

Form / Style

Lyric poetry.

Meter

Iambic trimeter.

Rhyme scheme

ABAB ABAB ABAB

Poetic devices

Repetition. Assonance. Metaphor.

Frequently noted imagery

Night. Moon. Heart.

Tone

Melancholic and didactic.

Key themes

The need for balance, and ageing.

Meaning

The end of an era.

So We'll Go No More a Roving Poem

Read the poem and note down your initial thoughts.

So, we'll go no more a roving

So late into the night,

Though the heart be still as loving,

And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,

And the soul wears out the breast,

And the heart must pause to breathe,

And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,

And the day returns too soon,

Yet we'll go no more a roving

By the light of the moon.

So We’ll Go No More a Roving Summary

In the first stanza, the speaker introduces the concept that their late-night revels have come to an end. The declarative sentence mood is used to ensure the reader is in no doubt that this is a statement of fact. The speaker also expresses that the heart and moon are still bright, suggesting that the emotional and environmental conditions are still right for late-night roaming.

However, the second stanza appears to contradict this idea. It suggests that it is possible to get tired of repeated pleasures and also alludes to ageing.

The poem concludes with its third stanza. The repetition of 'we'll go no more a roving', a sense of finality influences the speaker’s decision to cease their nocturnal roving.

So We’ll Go No More a Roving Context

Now we will explore the biographical and historical context of the poem as well as its literary context.

Biographical and historical context

‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’ (1830) was included in a letter Byron wrote on February 28th 1817 to his friend Thomas Moore. It was later published as part of Letters and Journals of Lord Byron (1830). At this time Byron was living in Venice in Italy, a Catholic country. The city of Venice has a long tradition of publicly celebrated carnivals dating back to the eleventh century.

At present, I am on the invalid regimen myself. The Carnival--that is, the latter part of it, and sitting up late o' nights--had knocked me up a little. But it is over--and it is now Lent, with all its abstinence and sacred music.

Lord Byron, 1817.

In this letter, Byron tells Moore that he is suffering physically, the cause likely being a hangover, after enjoying multiple nights of partying during the carnival season.

The poet was 28 at the time of writing the poem and was finding recovery from the festivities increasingly challenging. This may have led to the reflections upon ageing which are evident in the poem. Furthermore, he notes that the season of Lent has begun, so the time of night-time celebration and excess has come to an end.

So We'll Go No More a Roving, an elaborate purple Venetian mask, StudySmarterFig. 1 - A Traditional Venice Carnival Mask.

Carnival is an outdoor celebration where people usually wear costumes and dance. It involves food and drinks, live music and processions. Carnival originated in Roman Catholic communities, as a celebration just before the start of Easter lent.

This poem is inspired by the carnival in Venice. Another famous carnival that you might have heard of is the one in Rio de Janeiro.

Literary context

Let's have a look at the literary movement of Romanticism and the other works that influenced Byron to write 'So We'll Go No More a Roving'.

Characteristics of Romanticism

Byron was one of the most famous Romantic poets.

Romanticism is a historic literary movement centred in the time period 1785-1832. Romantic literature is linked by related poetic, social, and philosophical concepts and imagery. This literary movement is known for its focus on truth, nature, and the passionate expression of emotion.1 (The Routledge Dictionary of Key Terms)

Romantic poetry is known for its expression of passionate feelings. The speaker of ‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’ expresses the feelings of acceptance tinged with mournful regret. The speaker is acknowledging that the time of late-night partying and sexual freedom is passed. The reasons are both the increasing limitations of age and an unhealthy level of recent excesses. This gives the poem a sense of authentic, unexaggerated melancholy.

Another key characteristic of Romantic poetry is the high regard it holds for nature. Imagery of the night and the moon runs throughout this poem. The light of the moon is portrayed as instrumental in enabling late-night roving.

Inspiration from other works

The title 'So We’ll Go No More a Roving' is likely inspired by the Scottish song known as ‘The Jolly Beggar’ (1776) and the sea shanty ‘The Maid of Amsterdam’ (1600).

These songs contain the lines ‘we'll go no more a roving' and ‘I’ll go no more a roving' respectively. They also deal with the subjects of debauchery, celebration and the rejection of previously enjoyed pleasures.

So We’ll Go No More a Roving Analysis

Now we will analyse the poem.

Title

The poem was untitled in its original form, part of a personal letter from Lord Byron to his friend Thomas Moore. When Moore published it in 1830, six years after the poet’s death, he used the poem’s first line for the title - ‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’.

Form, structure, and rhyme scheme

This is a short lyric poem that consists of four stanzas. Each stanza is four lines long, a quatrain. Each quatrain follows the ABAB rhyme scheme. The equal length and matching rhyme schemes create an element of harmony throughout the poem.

Language devices and techniques

The poem incorporates assonance and repetition:

Assonance

The poet uses assonance through the use of ‘o’ sounds in the lines 'So, we'll go no more a roving'. The drawn out quality of this long vowel sound can be interpreted as mirroring the speaker’s tone of melancholy and fatigue.

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in words and phrases that are close to each other.

Repetition

Lord Byron uses the line 'we'll go no more a roving' in his first and final stanzas. This repetition has the effect of reinforcing the speaker’s decision, creating a sense of finality.

Repetition occurs when a word or a phrase is intentionally repeated in a literary work in order to create a poetic effect.

Meaning

This poem marks the end of an era. It acknowledges the passing of an exciting period of late-night roving. It is melancholic and didactic in tone, informing the reader of the need to accept when it is time to move on and accept a more mature phase of their lives.

Didactic literature is a type of literature that aims to guide and provide instructions.

So We’ll Go No More a Roving Theme

There are two main themes in the poem - the need for balance and ageing.

The need for balance

The poem deals with the need for balance rather than overindulgence in pleasures. The need for balance between partying and relaxation is evident in the lines 'And the heart must pause to breathe / And love itself have rest.' Here, the speaker suggests that too much of anything we love, late-night celebrations included, is a bad thing.

Ageing

Lord Byron alludes to the ageing process in the lines 'And the soul wears out the breast'. It reminds the reader of mortality; in Christian theology the soul leaves the body after death. This line suggests that death is getting closer.

The use of the plural pronoun could be interpreted as alluding to the speaker’s entire generation, who should accept their maturation. As people age they usually move on from the excesses of their youth. This poem can be interpreted as a mournful goodbye to a wild youth.

So We'll Go No More a Roving (1830) - Key Takeaways

  • 'So We'll Go No More a Roving' (1830) is a lyric poem written by Romantic poet Lord Byron.

  • This poem was informed by the poet’s over-indulgence in the festivities of the Venice carnival.

  • The tone of this poem is both didactic and melancholy.

  • ‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’ marks the end of a stage of life.

  • The main themes of the poem are aging and the need for balance.


Reference:1 Peter Childs and Robert Fowler, ‘The Routledge Dictionary of Key Terms’, (2006).

Frequently Asked Questions about So We'll Go No More a Roving

The poem was written as the poet approached his thirties, to mark the end of an era of wild, excessive partying and youth. 

‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’ explains the reasons for leaving behind a period of excess and late night partying.

It is a short lyrical poem belonging to the literary movement of Romanticism. 

It is both melancholic and didactic.

It was written in 1817. 

Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

This poem was published after Lord Byron's death.

What type of poem is 'So We'll Go No More a Roving'?

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