‘Darkness’ was inspired by a curious incident: the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which drastically altered the weather conditions across the world and led to 1816 being branded ‘the Year without a Summer’. The same event also led to Lord Byron’s trip to Lake Geneva and his ghost-story writing competition, which produced Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein. For Byron, writing in ‘Darkness’, the extermination of the sun seemed like a dream, yet it was ‘no dream’ but a strange and almost sublimely terrifying reality.
I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,