In his poem "Darkness", Lord Byron writes:

The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside

Is Byron employing 'city' in a sense similar to 'scope' or 'size' in this instance?

1 Answer 1


“City” has its usual meaning, “a large or important municipality” (OED). The tricky word here is “but”, which Byron uses in the sense “nothing but, no more than, only, merely” (OED). So the lines mean that, out of the original population of the enormous city, only two people were left alive: the rest had “famished by degrees” (that is, died of starvation one by one).

  • So then 'crowd' in this instance refers to totality of the occupants of said 'enormous city', or does it refer to humanity as a whole which the population of the 'enormous city' are a strict or equal subset of, or is it just not explicitly specified as either?
    – TomDot Com
    Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 14:17
  • 2
    "Crowd" could be taken in either sense (or both). Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 14:22

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