BYRON, GEORGE GORDON, Lord (1788-1824, poet)
Lot 37
BYRON, GEORGE GORDON, Lord (1788-1824, poet)
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Lot Details
BYRON, GEORGE GORDON, Lord (1788-1824, poet)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'FAREWELL TO MALTA', fifty-six lines written in a fair, cursive hand, with two textual revisions, signed with his initial ('B') and dated 'May 26th. 1811', 4 pages, quarto, slight browning and foxing, wear at folds, four small slips of paper affixed at edges, 1811

Footnotes

  • This poem is thoroughly characteristic of Byron in his most humorously bantering vein, complete with atrocious rhymes ('yawn, Sirs' / 'Dancers'; 'prate is' / 'Gratis; 'got us' / 'Hothouse' etc.). It was written in Malta at the very end of his Grand Tour of the Continent, which had lasted nearly two years. A week later, on 3 June, he set sail for England.

    In a letter to Hobhouse on 3 November Byron refers to the poem as 'a copy of Hudibrastics' which he gave to Commander Fraser because it contained a compliment to his wife. He did not intend 'the thing to be bandied about', he adds, but 'no sooner were we sailed than they were set in circulation, & I am told by a lately arrived traveller, that they are all, but particularly Oakes [H.M. Commissioner for Malta], in a pucker, and yet I am sure there is nothing to annoy any body, or a single personal allusion throughout, as far as I remember, for I kept no copy.'

    The poem was first published in a pirated edition, Hone's sixth edition of Poems on his Domestic Circumstances (1816), and was later included in the more authoritative Works of Lord Byron (1832).

    THE PRESENT MANUSCRIPT IS THE ONLY KNOWN AUTOGRAPH OF THE POEM and is collated in Jerome J. McGann's edition of The Complete Poetical Works, vol. i., 1980, pp. 338-340.

    Adieu ye joys of La Valette!
    Adieu Sirocco, Sun, & sweat!
    Adieu thou Palace rarely entered!
    Adieu ye Mansions where – I've ventured!
    Adieu ye cursed streets of stairs!...
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