Uploaded on Sep 13, 2009
He parted with a lover he used to meet in secret, the most plausible reason being that he was leaving England, and they made mutual vows about conduct and a reunion. The lover went on to lead a life of shame and broke the vows they had made. Now he feels anger, shame, sorrow, regret especially when his lover's name is mentioned, although nobody knows about their relationship. There is also the impression, though unstated, that he doesn't want to be damned by association. The emotion he feels is chagrin - not a common word these days.
The strict secrecy and the reason that compelled Byron to go abroad make it possible that this was addressed to a man. However it is sometimes claimed that it was addressed the Lady Frances Webster who was a married woman, because Byron gave another stanza in a private letter to his cousin:
Then --- fare thee well --- Fanny ---
Now doubly undone ---
To prove false unto many ---
As faithless to One ---
Thou art past all recalling
Even would I recall ---
For the woman once falling
Forever must fall.
However, this could be an afterthought and deceptive It isn't in keeping with the sentiments of the rest of the poem, with it's essential core of secrecy and the fact that it is complete in itself.
The portrait is of Lady Caroline Lamb, the most well-known of Byron's lovers, who was responsible for characterising him as, "mad, bad and dangerous to know".
Standard YouTube License