The Use of Form, Metaphors and Similes in The Destruction of Sennache Essay

ribIn Lord Byrons (George Gordon Byron) poem, The Destruction of Sennacherib he depicts the Assyrian King Sennacheribs army attempting the siege Jerusalem the city of the Israelites and ending up losing all of his army overnight without a single sword being lifted. This was supposedly the work of the angel of death from the Judo-Christian bible sent by god to annihilate the army and protect the city. George Gordon Byron was born January 22nd 1788 in a London Borough of Harrow and died April 19th 1824 from Malaria in Missolonghi in western Greece. He is regarded highly as one of the greatest British poets and was leader in the Romantic Movement. As Grime states it Byron uses form superbly, illustrating an underappreciated genius of rhythm (Grime). In the poem Byron repeatedly uses nature in his similes as a metaphor to better convey the speakers meaning and to illustrate the scenes. The use of similes and metaphors combined with Byrons style of form in the poem more clearly convey the speakers thoughts, ideas and create descriptive imagery
The first simile of the poem compares the Assyrian King Sennacherib to a wolf on a fold The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold. This simile uses a natural element of the wolf to set the mood of the attacking army as vicious, blood thirsty and without mercy, like the animal its being equated to. The next simile found compares the reflection off Assyrian soldiers spears to the stars reflecting off the sea And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea. Since there are tremendous amount of stars in a night sky the simile brings forth an image of thousands of warriors readying to destroy the Israelites. Byron reinforces the last image with the next simile found on lines six and seven Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green, That host with their banners at sunset were seen. He compares the vast army to the leaves in the forest while its green this better conveys the idea of Sennacheribs extensive army and also changes the mood bringing a feeling of impending doom for the battle to come. This also brings about the image of a massive expanse of warriors readying for nightfall. On the following lines eight and nine Byron follows this comparison with one of the same thyme of nature but containing the opposite effect Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown, That host on the morrow lay withered and strown. In this simile he uses nature process of leafs dying on trees shedding them for winter to express that he army has been destroyed overnight and no longer poses a threat to the Israelites. The simile clearly paints an image of the Assyrian army destroyed without a battle.

In the fourth stanza of the poem Byron continues to reinforces the destruction of King Sennacheribs army with the metaphor found in lines thirteen through sixteen
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

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The stanzas directed to a dying horse that has breathed its last breath and is foaming at the mouth from exertion caused by its to breath. Byron chose this metaphor to better relate the demolished army to the reader. He uses the natural metaphor of the oceans cold spray to convey the shift in mood and the oceans beating surf to convey the violence of the destruction the has taken place. In the next stanza Byron uses a metaphor to represent King Sennacheribs death and his lifeless body And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail. Goodman acknowledges the point that Byron focuses the fifth stanza on who we can guess to be King Sennacherib himself, dead on the ground in rusting armor, amid an empty group of tents and banners (Goodman). In these lines Byron uses the metaphor of the dead rider to represent King Sennacheribs and his death this further enforces the great armies defeat by an invisible protector sent by god to protect the Israelites.

Bryon uses a very strict form of style in this poem each quatrain is made up of four lines. The first and second lines in every quatrain rhyme as do the third and fourth. Goodman states that the form Byron chose to retell this apocalyptic story may help us experience the scene better than a less strict form would (Goodman). The form of the poem has consistent rhythm that creates a flow thats seamless to the reader as they go along. This constant flow created by Byrons strict form helps to make his metaphors and similes easier to comprehend better conveying the speakers ideas and mood to the reader without any misconception of their underlying meaning.

In this poem Lord Byron uses a style of writing that is heavily dependent on strict form, imagery and the use of nature to convey the scene. The reason for this was to completely convey the story of King Sennacheribs armys obliteration to the reader without any misconception of the speakers ideas or of the vivid images brought forth by the poem. In conclusion Lord Byron’s strict form of writing combined with his strong use of metaphors and similes serves to better convey the speakers ideas an creates vivid imagery that hooks the readers attention till the last line.

Work Cited
Goodman, Brent. “An overview of The Destruction of Sennacherib.” Poetry for Students. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 May 2013.

Grime, Jeffrey J. “Byron’s ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib.’ (Lord Byron’s poem).” The Explicator 56.2 (1998): 70+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 May 2013.


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