Tambora and 'Darkness'

Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia—then the Dutch East Indies—began its week-long eruption on April 5, 1815. Volcanic ash circulated in the upper atmosphere for years after the event, blocking out sunlight and lowering averages surface temperatures globally and 1816 became known as the 'Year without Summer'.
In 1816, there was snow in New England in July and dark rain clouds swept over Europe throughout the summer months. Hungary reported brown snowfall, tainted by volcanic ash. With the cold came crop failures and famine. Food shortages compounded those already in place in the wake of the Napoleonic wars after retreating armies had helped themselves to whole harvests Leo Tolstoy in 'War and Peace' (1869), offers an vivid image of “... a splendid field of oats in which a camp had been pitched and which was being mown down by the soldiers, evidently for fodder.”.

But these bleak circumstances hit hardest in and around the Alpine regions of France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

In April 1816, Mary Shelley traveled to Geneva, accompanied by her half sister, Claire Clairmont and her lover, Percy Shelley. Claire was eager to rekindle a romance with another British literary exile, Lord Byron.
The perpetual gloominess of what should have been summer skies inspired Byron to compose his miserable poem “Darkness,” in which the sun is permanently extinguished, and mankind dies:
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,

During that same sunless summer Byron wrote another grim poem, “Prisoner of Chillon”. It delivered the same depressing feeling:
First came the loss of light, and air,
And then of darkness too:
For all was blank, and bleak, and grey;
It was not night it was not day;

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