The Tambora Revolution refers to the eruption of Mount Tambora in the year 1815 in what is present day Indonesia. It was one of the most massive eruptions ever recorded, and the magnitude of its effects were monumental. Destruction on the island itself was obvious, but the aftermath was not restricted to just Indonesia. The eruption disrupted global temperatures causing what was referred to as the “Year Without a Summer.” There was a lack a perpetual fog and widespread rain leading to crop failure and widespread famine. The effects were felt most heavily in Europe where the prices of bread rose significantly leaving many people incapable of affording it. This then led to widespread riots which included the burning of bakeries to protest the cost inflation. Any sort of revolution is bound to be accompanied by an outpouring of new art, science, and texts. This catastrophe specifically was the topic of much literature. One of the most significant written works on the phenomenon was a poem written by Lord Byron which was called “Darkness.”

In the poem the speaker begins by referring to the events he was to describe as a “dream”  but “not all a dream” (line 1). This goes to show the widespread reaction to the summer that never was; people were astounded as they felt they were living in some sort of odd contrived alternate universe in which summer was bitter and inclement. The poem continues to describe a cold, gloomy Earth where men turned to survival instincts in this extended time of darkness and despair. Birds fell from the sky, snakes lost their venom, food supplies run out, humans turn to scavengers and eventually to cannibals. By the end of the poem this has led to the extinction of man kind and the Earth becomes a barren rock.

The poem “Darkness” was originally interpreted as a more stereotypical presentation of apocalyptic conjectures. However upon a deeper look into historical context it is clear that the poem was at least moderately influenced by the derangement that ensued during the “Year Without a Summer.” In this way it is evident that maybe what Byron was doing in “Darkness” was drawing upon his personal encounter with apocalyptic conditions in order to write a prophetic poem about the possibility of a future doomsday event. The apocalyptic theme within the poem is furthered through the idea of this darkness as an equalizer between men as would be expected with the end of man kind. The catastrophe brings both the wealthy royals and the poor peasants to the point of starvation eliminating class distinction and social hierarchies. The fact that the destruction described in the poem does not simply affect the human race, but animals as well, also supports apocalyptic notions. Another final aspect supporting the anticipatory sense of the poem was the concept of the end of war. The only way that mankind could realistically cease all forms of fighting would be with the end of the world altogether. In these ways Byron uses his own experience in suffering through the summer of 1816  to foresee the prospective downfall of the human race (if it were ever to occur).

The fact that the Tambora eruption led to a flood of literature describing the exact events of the eruption and the climate changes that followed is impressive in itself. The fact that it also led to individuals contemplating the destruction of the Earth and life as we know it altogether is astounding. The historical yet predictive nature of the poem “Darkness” written by Lord Byron in 1816 speaks to the true enormity of the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Tambora. The poem “Darkness” is highly representative of the Tambora Revolution itself.