I love birthdays, especially my own. Although last year’s celebrations were non-existent due to Covid, generally I indulge in a week-long round of drinks and dinners and general frolics, using the birthday as an excuse to try and see everyone I care about. The older I get, the more excited I am to see the next birthday come around (I’ve already started planning my 40th, and that’s not for another 5 years!)
However, inexplicably, many people do not enjoy birthdays. Lord Byron is a classic example of this, and never more so than on the occasion of his 33rd birthday, 200 years ago today.
Shortly before midnight on the 21st of January 1821, Byron notes in his journal that ‘in twelve minutes, I shall have completed thirty and three years of age!!!’ Writing of his ‘heaviness of heart’, Byron does not seem to have been overly happy at the prospect, and decides to go to bed and sulk. A few minutes later, however, and he is back at his journal having heard the clock strike midnight. These chimes announce that he is ‘now thirty-three!’, a melancholy signal inspiring Byron to scrawl a quote from Horace, ‘Eheu, fugaces, Posthume, Posthume, / Labuntur anni‘ …read more