Don Juan: Dedication

George Gordon Lord Byron 1788 (London) – 1824 (Missolonghi, Aetolia)

Difficile est proprie communia dicere
      HOR. Epist. ad PisonI
    Bob Southey! You're a poet--Poet-laureate,
       And representative of all the race;
   Although 'tis true that you turn'd out a Tory at
       Last--yours has lately been a common case;
   And now, my Epic Renegade! what are ye at?
       With all the Lakers, in and out of place?
   A nest of tuneful persons, to my eye
   Like "four and twenty Blackbirds in a pye;II
   "Which pye being open'd they began to sing"
      (This old song and new simile holds good),
  "A dainty dish to set before the King,"
      Or Regent, who admires such kind of food;
  And Coleridge, too, has lately taken wing,
      But like a hawk encumber'd with his hood,
  Explaining Metaphysics to the nation--
  I wish he would explain his Explanation.III

  You, Bob! are rather insolent, you know,
      At being disappointed in your wish
  To supersede all warblers here below,
      And be the only Blackbird in the dish;
  And then you overstrain yourself, or so,
      And tumble downward like the flying fish
  Gasping on deck, because you soar too high, Bob,
  And fall, for lack of moisture quite a-dry, Bob!IV

  And Wordsworth, in a rather long "Excursion"
      (I think the quarto holds five hundred pages),
  Has given a sample from the vasty version
      Of his new system to perplex the sages;
  'Tis poetry--at least by his assertion,
      And may appear so when the dog-star rages--
  And he who understands it would be able
  To add a story to the Tower of Babel.V

  You--Gentlemen! by dint of long seclusion
      From better company, have kept your own
  At Keswick, and, through still continu'd fusion
      Of one another's minds, at last have grown
  To deem as a most logical conclusion,
      That Poesy has wreaths for you alone:
  There is a narrowness in such a notion,
  Which makes me wish you'd change your lakes for Ocean.VI

  I would not imitate the petty thought,
      Nor coin my self-love to so base a vice,
  For all the glory your conversion brought,
      Since gold alone should not have been its price.
  You have your salary; was't for that you wrought?
      And Wordsworth has his place in the Excise.
  You're shabby fellows--true--but poets still,
  And duly seated on the Immortal Hill.VII

  Your bays may hide the baldness of your brows--
      Perhaps some virtuous blushes--let them go--
  To you I envy neither fruit nor boughs--
      And for the fame you would engross below,
  The field is universal, and allows
      Scope to all such as feel the inherent glow:
  Scott, Rogers, Campbell, Moore and Crabbe, will try
  'Gainst you the question with posterity.VIII

  For me, who, wandering with pedestrian Muses,
      Contend not with you on the winged steed,
  I wish your fate may yield ye, when she chooses,
       The fame you envy, and the skill you need;
  And, recollect, a poet nothing loses
      In giving to his brethren their full meed
  Of merit, and complaint of present days
  Is not the certain path to future praise.IX

  He that reserves his laurels for posterity
      (Who does not often claim the bright reversion)
  Has generally no great crop to spare it, he
      Being only injur'd by his own assertion;
  And although here and there some glorious rarity
      Arise like Titan from the sea's immersion,
  The major part of such appellants go
  To--God knows where--for no one else can know.X

  If, fallen in evil days on evil tongues,
      Milton appeal'd to the Avenger, Time,
  If Time, the Avenger, execrates his wrongs,
      And makes the word "Miltonic" mean " sublime ,"
   He deign'd not to belie his soul in songs,
      Nor turn his very talent to a crime;
   He did not loathe the Sire to laud the Son,
  But clos'd the tyrant-hater he begun.XI

  Think'st thou, could he--the blind Old Man--arise
      Like Samuel from the grave, to freeze once more
  The blood of monarchs with his prophecies
      Or be alive again--again all hoar
  With time and trials, and those helpless eyes,
      And heartless daughters--worn--and pale--and poor;
  Would  he adore a sultan?  he obey
  The intellectual eunuch Castlereagh?XII

  Cold-blooded, smooth-fac'd, placid miscreant!
      Dabbling its sleek young hands in Erin's gore,
  And thus for wider carnage taught to pant,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:36 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,327
Words 705
Stanzas 11
Stanza Lengths 18, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 4

George Gordon Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet, peer and politician who became a revolutionary in the Greek War of Independence, and is considered one of the leading figures of the Romantic movement. He is regarded as one of the greatest English poets and remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; many of his shorter lyrics in Hebrew Melodies also became popular. He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for seven years in the cities of Venice, Ravenna, and Pisa. During his stay in Italy he frequently visited his friend and fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Later in life Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire and died of disease leading a campaign during that war, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died in 1824 at the age of 36 from a fever contracted after the First and Second Siege of Missolonghi. His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is regarded as a foundational figure in the field of computer programming based on her notes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Byron's illegitimate children include Allegra Byron, who died in childhood, and possibly Elizabeth Medora Leigh.  more…

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