Study Guide

So We'll Go No More a Roving Death

By George Gordon, Lord Byron


So, we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night, (1-2)

In a poem that talks a lot about death, the line "late into the night" takes on a new meaning. Sure, it refers to the time when the speaker likes to rove, but it also sounds like he feels he's "late into the night" of his life.

For the sword outwears its sheath, (5)

When a sheath gets worn out, it pretty much dies. This very clearly tells us that the speaker is thinking about death. It's not clear whether he means the death of his enjoyment, or his own death.

And the soul wears out the breast, (6)

The confusion of line 5 is cleared up a little bit. Any image of the soul wearing out the body, or leaving the body, is a reference to death. The speaker is thinking about the death of his body and his soul's final journey.

And the heart must pause to breathe, (7)

It seems like he's talking about taking a quick breather (like you do when you exercise), but there's something more sinister going on here. The idea of pausing, in a poem that contains several references to death, makes us think of the permanent pause of death.

And love itself have rest (8)

Again, an apparently "normal" line has a darker meaning. The word "rest" in particular is troubling. Just think of those common epitaph words—"Rest in Peace"—to catch our drift. Love must rest, sure, but it sounds like a permanent rest.

And the day returns too soon, (10)

The return of day is a sign of hope and life. Perhaps it's not really the end after all. Or maybe the speaker is thinking in some bizarre way about his soul's rebirth in another world.

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