"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Childe Jake Talks up Childe Harold, but First...

Tomorrow, September 8th, is International Literacy Day. I confess this is a day I’ve never paid special attention to. My excuse is that I cherish literacy every day. The blunt truth is that, like so many other "increasing awareness" days, I just haven’t made any time for it before. But let's avoid feeling guilty. If you pay taxes as a U.S. citizen, read books to children, or pay back student loans, you are already playing a key role in increasing literacy. Pat yourself on the back. The question is, are you willing to do something extra? Below are two simple things I’ve done in the past year that felt great.

My first suggestion is make a donation to your local public library. Don’t just donate old books for the used book sale--the literary equivalent of donating unwanted canned vegetables to a food drive. Actually make a monetary donation to your library. My other suggestion is even simpler. Make a special trip to a store that sells print material and buy some. Don't just read for free online and assume that advertising dollars will keep quality publications accessible to all. Actually go to a physical book store and buy a book, magazine, or newspaper. By purchasing print material in person, you help sustain the marketplace that supplies literature to people who do not have Internet access at home.

One of the blessings I’ve enjoyed thanks to literacy is developing this blog. I am working on a post to explain why I chose the blog name Childe Jake’s Pilgrimage. Since it is not ready yet, I am posting my short review of Lord Byron’s masterful poem: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. This is one of my favorite literary works, and certainly my favorite poem by Lord Byron. Below are some reasons why.

Childe Harold's PilgrimageChilde Harold's Pilgrimage by George Gordon Byron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my favorite work by Lord Byron. Hands down. No contest. I revisit it often to read favorite sections.

Via the character of Childe Harold, and later simply as himself, Byron explores the world. He visits places like Spain, Turkey, and of course, Greece. He also muses on great historical figures like Napoleon. Think of this as the ultimate road trip epic, set via 19th Century Romanticism. Do you like movies like Easy Rider? This work is in the same vein.

The language is more accessible than Shakespeare. Still, I recommend picking up a well-footnoted edition, and keeping a dictionary handy. Often, Byron uses words differently than we do today. So it is worth referencing archaic definitions that add fascinating layers to the text.

Wish you could meet Byron and interact with him in person? Read this pilgrimage poem.

View all my reviews


  1. You may have just pushed me over the edge. I've been contemplating buying a few books and now, it seems, I will have to do it. :)

  2. I guess I should go ahead and admit that the above blog post is an intervention. Cami, I'm concerned you don't read enough books. ;-)

  3. I'm right there with you, not thinking about the world's literacy problems on a daily basis. My life is centered around my children, teaching them to read and filling my home with books. I completely support your suggestions to donate books and to buy new ones. Life wouldn't be the same without holding a real book in my hands or watching a child flip through the pages of their first book and I hope everyone will continue to have that opportunity.

  4. Thank you for your thoughts about the importance of literacy, Danielle. I appreciated your blogging contribution to International Literacy Day.

  5. I love books. How they feel, smell. But I also love my Sony Reader! lol I still buy magazines by the buckets though.

    As for literacy, I think being able to read is one of the best ways to escape.

    xo Susie

  6. As with “smart” phones and social networking sites, I expect to be late to the E-books party, if I show up at all. If I ever do buy an E-reader, it will have to give me the ability to annotate pages as I read. I’m all about scribbling notes in the margins. Thanks your comment Susie!