Lord Byron’s “Darkness” in performative adaptations

Due for next Tuesday (12/4): which ONE of the three YouTube videos below best represents the mood and tone of Lord Byron’s poem “Darkness”?  Because this assignment will not be graded (but required as part of your participation grade), there is no need to write a full blog post for this prompt.  Instead, provide a brief explanation for your choice in the comment box below (click on title above). 

clip #1:

clip #2:

clip #3:


~ by hgarcia13 on November 27, 2012.

9 Responses to “Lord Byron’s “Darkness” in performative adaptations”

  1. Not only did I enjoy listening to the third adaptation the most, I also found that it best portrayed Lord Byron’s “Darkness.” While it features the same voice reciting Byron’s verses in the first video, it includes an undeniably sexy beat in the background to accompany the words. To me, the first video’s reading was very one-dimensional; I could only summarize the recitation as “dark.” As we all know that Lord Byron is far from being a “one-dimensional” man, I immediately recognized the third reading of “Darkness” as the winner: not only does it embody the “darkness” of the poems daunting verses, it also embodies Byron’s sexuality and scandal within the enticing guitar rift and the heavy beating of the drums. Sex, scandal, and a little bit of gloom: what could better explain Byron?

  2. I preferred the first video’s interpretation of Lord Byron’s Darkness. The voice speaking really reflected well the overall tone of the poem. It was deep and melancholy, with a sense of hopelessness and boredom exhibited in the slower pace in which the poem is read. The imagery of the first video also contributed to the overall experience, as Byron was writing about the end of the world, the coming of eternal darkness, and the first video alternates images of ruined cities, caught between darkness and light, with images of the text itself. Seeing the physical effects of Byron’s predictions of the future followed by the words themselves intensified acted as a double whammy of the coming of darkness.

  3. I thought the voice in the first recording was rather full of itself and trying too hard to sound moody and brooding. I feel like poetry, especially Byron’s, should flow effortlessly in terms of sound. The difficulty should come in when one reads into the poem and tries to understand its effects, whereas listening should be a more sensual experience which this first voice simply ruined. And, since the third recording was the first voice put over music, that one didn’t do much for me either, although it was a slight improvement.

    Thus, for me, the second recording won out. It still wasn’t spectacular, in my opinion, but I did at least get an atmospheric sense from it as opposed to the other two. It reminded me of something one would hear in the introduction to a cinematic movie where the camera is panning around to different scenes before winding up focusing on the actual events/people in the film.

  4. I think the first video does an incredible job of representing the tone and energy of Lord Byron’s poem, “Darkness”. Even though there is so much destruction and chaos in the poem, the articulation of the words without any distracting noises or music emphasizes the absence of life and movement. It communicates utter devastation while still invigorating the listener with fear. I think it’s also important to notice the speaker. In contrast with the second video, I was more receptive to a male speaking the text and was also drawn to the pauses in the lines and pace of the dialogue. This particular video makes the text a composition of sound, image, and description by keeping it simple and bare.

    • katiearata–
      I couldnt agree more with your comment. I think that the first video best emodies the mood of the poem. The man’s voice unhindered without music drives at a steady pace and reels off Byron’s apocalyptic words with an effective pace that conveys desolation. The silence in between each word conveys a sense of the unknown and is slightly more terrifying in its abyssmal nature. It conveys the sublime and the apocalypse found in Byron’s words quite well.

  5. Lord Byron’s poem instilled a sense of desolation and emptiness in me. While the poetry is filled with imagery and symbolism, I was most struck by its barrenness. Darkness is aptly described as the absence of light, and I feel like any reading that tries to “fill in” too much of Byron’s writing is missing the point.

    I agree with atrevelyan that the first recording sounded very haughty and overdone but, for me, it best captured this sense of silence and nothingness that I drew from the poetry. The other two recordings added something, whether it was sound effects and tons of imagery with the second recording or an entire musical soundtrack with the third recording. With these readings, I wasn’t allowed to experience the words themselves or the emptiness that they instill, but a multi-media interpretation that, to my ear, is an overblown reading of the poetry.

  6. I thought that the first two performances were a bit more compelling than the third one. I would choose the second video as my favorite, although it is by no means perfect. The unintelligible gibberish spoken by ‘spooky’ voices in the background wasn’t really based in the poem itself and was pretty distracting at times. Still, I enjoyed the background music itself minus the voices. I liked the variety of images (although some were a little out of focus) and some were strikingly emotive and well suited to communicating the feel of the poem. I also liked the use of black and white in the video which sort of simulated the darkness of the poem. The first video was pretty good too and probably had a better reading of the poem, but I think the second gave a more complete, if sometimes flawed, atmosphere of the poem through music and images.

  7. I think that the second video gives a much more accurate vocalization of Darkness by Lord Byron. Considering the role of the female prophet that can be seen in the Greek elements that the Romantic Poets drew from, I think that this version stands out from the other two because the voice is from a woman. During the video there is very eerie and disturbing sounds in the background. It is almost as if we are listening to the horrors occur as the poem is read. The woman also reads it with a sense of dread and malice in her voice as she was the very darkness that swelled to become the universe. Since the Darkness is embodied as a she I find that a woman reading the poem better personifies the theme of Darkness that Shelley intended. Since the poem was a “dream”, the whole time she was speaking I imagined Shelley as sort of a Macbeth figure, listening to a witch prophesize his demise while sitting at a campfire. Her voice is extremely spooky.

  8. I found that the first clip was best representative of the mood and tone of Lord Byron’s “Darkness,” particularly in the simplicity of the video itself. There are little images other than the text written in a flourished typeface, which minimizes distraction and lends all focus on the poem itself. Further, the voice reading the poem recites it without overdramatizing the poem’s intention, unlike the female voice in the second clip. Though the male voice can be perceived as monotonous, it nonetheless mirrors the gravity of this apocalyptic poem. The third video appeared to be the least matching clip to Byron’s poem because of the implementation of musical background to give it a more modern rock feel. This stylistic choice is possibly the antipode of the poem in that it clashes with the intimation of the unavoidable mortality of man and the bestiality that results from the prevalence of death. Thus, the first clip is most fitting of the atmosphere of the “Darkness” because it echoes the ominous and dreary tone of the poem without over exaggeration or extraneous elements.

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