I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Monday, March 28, 2011

She Walks in Beauty

Lord Byron

Lord Byron has always been a favourite of mine. I love the Gothic Romantic Era as well as the more recent New Romantic movement of the 80's in fashion and music. Much of today's society and technological culture is dull, ugly, tedious and bland. The bland leading the bland. My favourite Oscar Wilde quote is: "It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." Dostoyevsky proclaimed that "Beauty will save the world". Lord Byron expressed this longing for Beauty in his famous poem from the "Hebrew Melodies". He wrote a number of poems which were set by Isaac Nathan to Jewish melodies in 1815. One of the most beautiful is called "She walks in Beauty". There have been many discussions of who this woman was- some believing it described Lord Byron's sister Augusta, others his cousin Anne Wilmot. However I believe this is the Woman of Israel- the Matronita- the Dark Lady- of Jewish mystical tradition who is also called the Black Madonna in Catholic tradition associated with the Night (Lilah) of Genesis One. This woman is the Lady of Israel who is God's masterpiece of Beauty. The Zohar proclaims her role as the dark light of Beauty.

Isaac Nathan

In this ugly era this Beauty will shine forth as our hearts long for a return of the Beauty that appeared briefly in the Gothic Romantic era and the New Romantic era. Many Jews may wonder what the Romantic era has to do with the Jewish people but I think the these Hebrew melodies of Lord Byron and Isaac Nathan and the Jewish characters in Eliot's Daniel Deronda open up this era to the Jewish world. This is part of the inheritance of the Anglo-Jews. Lord Byron's mother Catherine Gordon was of the Gordon family who it is believed had orthodox Jewish relatives in Europe and a relative of Lord Byron called Lord George Gordon became a convert to Judaism. Lord George died in prison when Lord Byron was five but it would seem that the pro-Jewish views of the Gordon clan were passed on to Lord Byron by his mother. It is possible that Lord Byron visited his relative in prison with his mother.

She Walks in Beauty
By Lord Byron (1788-1824)

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

See this sung version of the poem She walks in Beauty
Another version

Also see The Lady of Shalott and Anglo-Jewish Inheritance

An interesting article on Lord Byron and Daniel Deronda

Note 1: In reading and listening to the poems in the "Hebrew Melodies" I recognised some of the poems my mother read to me as a child including 'The Destruction of Sennacharib' and 'The Vision of Belshazzar'.

Note 2: Isaac Nathan's mother may have been the Jewish mistress of the Prince of Wales (George IV) called Mrs Mary Lewis (nee Goldsmith/Goldsmid)who later married William Lewis of Brighton. The Lewis family came from Norley Cheshire and had a family legend of being descended from a Polish king and his Jewish mistress similiar to the story claimed by Isaac Nathan for his father's family. Mrs Lewis was also like Isaac Nathan in the employ of Princess Charlotte. His father would seem to have been a relative to Barnett Nathan of Kent. It may be that his father Menahem's brother Mordechai was the father of Barnett Nathan [b.1785] of Kent. Isaac also had a brother Barnett Nathan[b.1793/4]and he also had a nephew called Barnett Nathan [b.1832]. Isaac's brother Frank Benjamin Nathan married Catherine Hart daughter of Eliezer Hart of London. Frank and Catherine were the parents of Mark, Benjamin, Sarah and Sylvia Nathan. Sylvia married Major Joseph Michael Beecham a grandson of Sir Joseph Beecham the first Baronet Beecham. Isaac also had a brother called Nathan Nathan who named his son Isaac Nathan (who married Elizabeth Hart)after his brother Isaac. It would seem that the mysterious services that Isaac Nathan did for George IV was connected to his secret marriage to Maria Fitzherbert and their secret Payne family as well as George IV's secret Lewis family with Isaac Nathan's mother.

Note 3: Isaac Nathan was married to Elizabeth Rosetta Worthington (died 1826) who converted to Judaism and was married a second time in the synagogue. His second wife was Henrietta Buckley. Henrietta's sister Caroline Buckley was married to Isaac's brother Barnett in 1816. Isaac's eldest child Dr Charles Braham Nathan (married Harriet Fisher in 1842) was a famous Sydney surgeon and the son of his first wife. He also had a son Alfred (fourth child of his first wife who married Hannah Barker in 1858) and a daughter Louisa Caroline (second child of his first wife who married William Lawe Gane)and Selina Jane (his third child born in 1822) and he also had daughters Marian (who married Thomas Venour in 1842) and Jessy Rosetta (the last child of his first wife). He also had six other children by his second wife- Walter Byron Nathan [b.1845 Sydney], Una Nathan [b.1850 Sydney who married Walter Leighton Fell in 1878],Henry Lynd Nathan {b.1844 Sydney who married Anne McFarlane in 1878], Zillah Nathan [b.1839 d.1921], Adah Nathan (married Frederick Vigne in 1850) and Temple F S Nathan (died 1909). Isaac Nathan's grandson Harry Alfred Nathan (son of Alfred and Hannah Nathan) is said to have composed "Waltzing Matilda".

see Twilight by Lord Byron