'When We Two Parted' by George Gordon, Lord Byron

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When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow--
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shrudder comes o'er me--
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee so well--
Long, long I shall rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met--
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?--
With silence and tears.

Editor 1 Interpretation

When We Two Parted: An Analysis of Byron’s Classic Poetry

Oh, Byron. How do we even begin to analyze the literary genius that is George Gordon, Lord Byron? With his captivating storytelling and heart-wrenching verses, Byron has left an indelible mark on the world of literature. In this essay, we will delve into one of his most famous poems, “When We Two Parted.”

Background Information

Firstly, let us provide some context. “When We Two Parted” was written in 1815 and is part of a collection of poems entitled “Hebrew Melodies.” The poem is written in four stanzas, each containing eight lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD, and the meter is iambic tetrameter, which gives the poem a steady rhythm.

The Theme of Betrayal

The theme of “When We Two Parted” is betrayal. The poem tells the story of a love affair that has ended. The speaker is addressing his former lover, and we can infer that the relationship was kept a secret. The poem begins with the line, “When we two parted in silence and tears,” which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The use of the word “silence” suggests that there was no closure, no explanation for the end of the relationship. The use of the word “tears” implies that the speaker was deeply affected by the breakup.

The second stanza reveals the reason for the end of the relationship. The speaker says, “Thy vows are all broken, / And light is thy fame.” Here, the speaker is accusing his former lover of breaking her promises and ruining her reputation. The use of the word “light” suggests that her reputation is now tarnished and that she is seen as untrustworthy.

The third stanza is the most emotional part of the poem. The speaker says, “In secret we met— / In silence I grieve, / That thy heart could forget, / Thy spirit deceive.” Here, the speaker is expressing his pain at the betrayal. The use of the word “secret” suggests that the relationship was kept hidden, and the use of the word “silence” again emphasizes the lack of closure. The use of the phrase “thy heart could forget, / Thy spirit deceive” is particularly powerful. It suggests that the speaker believed his former lover to be a better person than she turned out to be.

The final stanza is a reflection on the past. The speaker says, “They know not I knew thee, / Who knew thee too well: / Long, long shall I rue thee, / Too deeply to tell.” Here, the speaker is saying that he knew his former lover better than anyone else did, and that he will mourn the loss of the relationship for a long time. The use of the phrase “too deeply to tell” suggests that the speaker is unable to put his feelings into words.

The Use of Language

One of the most striking things about “When We Two Parted” is the use of language. Byron’s words are carefully chosen to create a sense of melancholy and longing. The use of repetition is particularly effective. The phrase “silence and tears” is repeated twice in the first stanza, emphasizing the pain of the breakup. The phrase “long, long” is repeated in the final stanza, emphasizing the length of time that the speaker will mourn his loss.

The use of imagery is also powerful. The phrase “thy vows are all broken, / And light is thy fame” creates a vivid picture of the speaker’s former lover’s reputation being destroyed. The use of the word “light” suggests that her reputation is fragile and easily damaged.


So, what can we take away from “When We Two Parted”? The poem is a powerful exploration of the pain of betrayal. The speaker’s use of language creates a vivid picture of his emotional state, and his reflections on the past are deeply moving.

The poem also raises questions about the nature of love and relationships. Was the relationship doomed to fail from the beginning? Was the speaker’s former lover truly untrustworthy, or did circumstances conspire against her? These are questions that we may never know the answer to, but the poem encourages us to reflect on the complexity of human relationships.


In conclusion, “When We Two Parted” is a classic poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Byron’s use of language and imagery creates a powerful sense of longing and melancholy, and the poem’s exploration of betrayal raises important questions about the nature of love and relationships. As we reflect on the poem’s themes, we are reminded of the enduring power of poetry to capture the complexity of the human experience.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry When We Two Parted: A Heartbreaking Tale of Love and Loss

When it comes to classic poetry, few works are as hauntingly beautiful as George Gordon, Lord Byron's "When We Two Parted." This poem, written in 1815, tells the story of a love affair that has come to a bitter end. Through its vivid imagery and emotional language, "When We Two Parted" captures the pain and heartbreak of lost love in a way that still resonates with readers today.

The poem begins with the speaker reflecting on the past, recalling a time when he and his lover were deeply in love. He describes the "pale" and "cold" moon that shone down on them as they parted, suggesting that even nature itself was aware of the sadness of their separation. The speaker then goes on to describe the "silent" and "tearless" parting, suggesting that the end of their relationship was not marked by any dramatic outbursts or tears, but rather a quiet resignation to the inevitable.

As the poem progresses, the speaker becomes more and more consumed by his grief. He describes the "vows" and "oaths" that were made between him and his lover, suggesting that their love was once strong and unbreakable. However, he also acknowledges that those promises were ultimately broken, and that their love was not enough to overcome the obstacles that stood in their way.

The most powerful and memorable lines of the poem come in the final stanza, where the speaker reveals that he still carries the pain of his lost love with him, even years later. He describes the "half broken-hearted" and "coldly" that he still thinks of his former lover, suggesting that he has never fully moved on from their relationship. The final line of the poem, "In silence and tears," is a poignant and heartbreaking conclusion to the speaker's tale of lost love.

So what makes "When We Two Parted" such a powerful and enduring work of poetry? One of the key factors is the emotional language that Byron uses throughout the poem. The words "pale," "cold," "silent," and "tearless" all contribute to a sense of sadness and loss that permeates the poem. The use of repetition, particularly in the final stanza, also adds to the emotional impact of the poem. The repeated use of the word "cold" emphasizes the speaker's sense of isolation and loneliness, while the repetition of "silence and tears" reinforces the idea that the pain of lost love is something that cannot be easily expressed in words.

Another important aspect of the poem is its use of imagery. The moon, which is described as "pale" and "cold," serves as a symbol of the speaker's emotional state. The fact that it is "silent" also suggests that the speaker feels alone and unheard in his grief. The use of the word "vows" and "oaths" also creates a powerful image of commitment and devotion, which makes the eventual loss of that love all the more devastating.

Finally, the poem's structure is also worth noting. "When We Two Parted" is a four-stanza poem, with each stanza consisting of four lines. This creates a sense of symmetry and balance that is in contrast to the emotional turmoil that the speaker is experiencing. The fact that the final stanza is shorter than the others also adds to the sense of finality and closure that the poem conveys.

In conclusion, "When We Two Parted" is a classic work of poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Through its emotional language, vivid imagery, and powerful structure, the poem captures the pain and heartbreak of lost love in a way that is both timeless and universal. Whether you have experienced the pain of lost love yourself or not, "When We Two Parted" is a poem that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who reads it.

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