I am in reference to Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (see: wikipedia article).

Here is the opening stanza of the work (TO IANTHE):

Not in those climes where I have late been straying,
⁠Though Beauty long hath there been matchless deemed,
⁠Not in those visions to the heart displaying. ⁠Forms which it sighs but to have only dreamed,
⁠Hath aught like thee in Truth or Fancy seemed:
⁠Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek.
⁠To paint those charms which varied as they beamed—
⁠To such as see thee not my words were weak;
To those who gaze on thee what language could they speak?

My question is about the capitalized nouns i.e. Beauty, Truth and Fancy.

Why are those three nouns capitalized?

I assumed the choice of the capital letter could be denoting an allegory. But then why capitalize a noun and not another? In other words why Byron would choose to capitalize those three nouns above but not other nouns in the stanza?

Any comment welcome.

  • 1
    Words for transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense are often capitalized. – BeatsMe Jul 27 '20 at 20:14
  • Thanks a lot for your reply. What do you mean here by transcendent? How are the three capitalized nouns above more transcendent that others? – balteo Jul 28 '20 at 8:23
  • "When used to refer to forms as Plato conceived them, the term “Form” is conventionally capitalized, as are the names of individual Platonic Forms. For Plato, the Forms are perfect exemplars, or ideal types, of the properties and kinds that are found in the world. Corresponding to every such property or kind is a Form that is its perfect exemplar or ideal type. Thus the properties “beautiful” and “black” correspond to the Forms the Beautiful and the Black; the kinds “horse” and “triangle” correspond to the Forms the Horse and the Triangle; and so on." – BeatsMe Jul 28 '20 at 13:51
  • 2
    I found this on Google Books about Byron's capitalization: books.google.com/… – BeatsMe Jul 28 '20 at 14:33
  • 2
    Capitalization at the time followed no widespread, formal rules; its use was idiosyncratic. For example, one of Byron's contemporary poets, William Blake, also tended to capitalize nouns in accordance to his own preferences. – llywrch Jul 28 '20 at 16:16

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