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and depicted as they might be seen and imagined by one bound as Mazeppa was, and suffering as he was. The poet's imagination has thoroughly entered into the character and the situation. Romantic as the tale is, the manner of telling it is realistic in the best sense.
The verse is the free four-foot or "octosyllabic" measure used by Scott, Coleridge, and others of the Romantic period, and by Byron himself in many of the early narrative poems, in 'The Prisoner of Chillon,' and elsewhere. Occasionally lines of three feet occur. The movement is iambic or ascending. The rhymes are freely varied, occasionally running in couplet form for a number of lines, but soon changing to alternate rhymes, or even more complicated arrangements, as the ebb and flow of the thought suggest. Alliteration is freely but not profusely employed, to lend fluency and emphasis to the verse.
For the ride itself, compare, in 'The Giaour,' ll. 180 ff., the account of the wild ride of the hero,
"Who thundering comes on blackest steed," etc.
An interesting monograph on the poem has been written by Dr. E. Englaender, 'Lord Byron's Mazeppa, eine Studie' (Berlin, 1897).
223 : ix, 3. Ukraine. District in southern Russia, north of the Black Sea and in the valley of the Dnieper, inhabited by the Cossacks.
223-5 - x- ^he story of the revenge which Mazeppa afterwards took for his sufferings comes in appropriately at this point, firstly, because it is in character for the proud old warrior to let his hearers know without delay that he was not wronged with impunity; and, secondly, because if put at the close of the poem it would disturb the effect of reconcilement and peaceful ending there introduced.
225 : xi, 15. Spahi. Turkish cavalryman.
226 : xii, 13-18. Byron is not squeamish about introducing images of mere horror. Here, of course, this image emphasizes the dramatic effect: it is quite in keeping from the mouth of the wild Cossack warrior. In itself, moreover, it adds to the effect of barbarous circumstances and feelings which the poem aims to produce. These are the things which Mazeppa thought of in his terror and agony. We should not feel them if he concealed them, or if he expressed his thought in more chastened symbols.
227 : xii, 31. Do wolves run in "troops" or packs except during the winter?
228 : xiii, 19 ff. It is perhaps in his psychology, in his portrayal of states of mind, in this poem, that Byron's art is most extraordinary. In such a touch as
"but could not make My senses climb up from below,"
and in all that follows there is, or (what is quite as important for poetry) at least there seems to be, absolute fidelity to fact and to the laws of psychology. In this respect is there an advance on the art of 'The Prisoner of Chillon'?
Compare Coleridge's 'The Ancient Mariner,' his suffering, swoons, and hallucinations.
229 : xiv, 7. Cf. 'Anc. Mariner,' 62: "Like noises in a swound."
230 : xiv, 24. What is the effect of the sudden introduction of the three-foot line? Is the device used for similar effects elsewhere in the poem, as, for example, in xv, 4, 9, 14, 24; xvii, 9, 34, 39, 63, 78, 83, 95, etc.?
230 : xiv, 30. Why 'suspended pangs '? and, 19, why 'hollow trance'? How do these epithets enlarge their nouns?
230 : xv, 3. Does this line exhibit expressive tone-color?
230 : xv, 4. The inverted rhythm of the first foot helps to express the idea of effort.
230: xv, 10-13. Is the coloring true for moonlight effects?
230 : xv, 19-20. Is this properly a case of "pathetic fallacy "? Would then an unfallacious form of statement have been equally dramatic and effective?
231 : xvi, 19 ff. During how many days has the ride continued?
232 : xvii, 12. werst. More commonly written verst,—a Russian measure of distance, about two-thirds of a mile.
234 : xvii, 92-94. So Byron wrote in his Journal of February 18, 1814: "Is there anything beyond? Who knows? He that can't tell. Who tells that there is? He who don't know. And when shall he know? Perhaps, when he don't expect, and generally when he don't wish it. In this last respect, however, all are not alike: it depends a good deal upon education, something upon nerves and habits, but most upon digestion."
234 : xvii, 70-110. Is this passage of moralization out of place? Is it sufficiently justified by the suggestion that it serves a purpose of relief and relaxation of attention in the progress of the story?
237: xx, 16. Borysthenes. Ancient name of the river Dnieper, formerly the boundary between Poland and Russia, and, near its mouth, between Turkey and Russia.
DON JUAN: THE SHIPWRECK (Canto II, Stanzas xxiv-lxxvi, lxxviii-lxxx, lxxxiii-cxi.)
'Don Juan'was begun in the summer of 1818. The second canto was finished in January, 1819, and cantos I and II were published in July, 1819, cantos III-V in 1821, and the others at intervals in 1823 and 1824. The plan is even looser and more rambling than that of 'Childe Harold.' "lhave no plan; I had no plan; but I had or have materials," wrote Byron to Murray. The poem carried on the vein opened up in ' Beppo,' and, in its author's words, was "meant to be a little quietly facetious upon everything." Nothing else quite like it exists in English, although 'The Monks and the Giants' (1817), by "the brothers Whistlecraft" (John Hookham Frere) is after the same models in Italian (Pulci and others) followed by Byron, and itself furnished Byron with many hints. The plot and spirit are Southern and Continental rather than English; and the poem, although now by many accounted Byron's masterpiece for power, performance, and originality, affronted and baffled his own generation. Indeed, at this day, although it must be admitted that the poem is full of license,* and in some parts inevitably shocks most'accepted standards of feeling and of ethics, the elementary distinction, as put by Taine, that " 'Don Juan' is a satire on the abuses of the present state of society, and not an eulogy of vice," needs to be re
* " The soul of such writing is license: at least the liberty of that license, if one likes,—not that one should abuse it " (Byron to Murray, Aug. 12, 1819).'
peated. The poem is full of multiplex intentions and design, and the poet's meaning and mood in it may easily be mistaken unless the reader traces the author's way with footing fine.
'Don Juan' presents examples of a score of different styles and tones,—the mocking, the satirical, the gruesome, the realistic, the witty, the pathetic, the terrible mixed with the horrible, the voluptuous, the exalted, the pessimistic, and many others; but the ground tone is always the familiar, the sportive, the mocking, and the facetious. Incongruity and burlesque (sometimes savage burlesque) is of the very design of the piece. This the reader must come prepared to accept. The style attempted is suggested by the author's motto, chosen from Horace:
"Difficile est proprie communia dicere."
Half in jest, the poet again and again indulges in confidences with his readers, and discusses his plan. So, for example, canto I, stanzas cc-cciv:
"My poem's epic, and is meant to be
The sensible reader of course knows in what spirit to take such
The verse is the ottava rima stanza, composed of eight fivefoot lines, rhyming abababcc. Byron poses in this poem as the anti-sentimentalist, and consequently avoids purposely poetic diction and smoothness of versification. The aim is to keep up the conversational and matter-of-fact tone and rhythm as far as is compatible with the maintenance of verse and stanza at all. Hence the unemphatic rhythm, marked by the utmost license of inversion and substitution of feet within the line, the capricious variety of pauses and of run-on effects, and the wilfully queer rhymes.
The frequent double rhymes have generally in themselves a slightly ludicrous effect, arising from the wrenching of the accent which often attends them, or which they at least suggest. Thus in the first stanza of the first selection here given, the rhymes "Leghorn," "was born," and "the m6rn" give this effect. Note also the effect produced by such rhymes as "Moncada" and "he had a," "trough of the sea" and "shattered the," "undone" and "London," "annuities""true it is " and "Jew it is," "scanty" and "Dante," "we prided" and "and I did," and the like. The sentimentalist again is flouted by the poet's tantalizing device of introducing a digression just as the situation is becoming most thrilling, and as the emotion is mounting to its climax.* So it is in the account of the Shipwreck at stanzas numbered Ixiv to lxvii. The Shipwreck episode, as a whole, however, is treated with more poetic seriousness than most parts of the poem. For poetical realism, sometimes brutal but always impressive, it stands alone. The sentence of a contemporary (anonymous) critic stands confirmed by time, that "the copiousness and flexibility of the English language were never before so triumphantly approved," and that "the same compass of talent, 'the grave, the gay, the great, the small,' comic force, humour, metaphysics, and observation, boundless fancy and ethereal beauty, and curious knowledge, curiously applied, have never been blended with the same felicity in any other poem." Or, as another phrased it, " 1 Don Juan' is by far the most admirable specimen of the mixture of ease, strength, gaiety, and seriousness extant in the whole body of English poetry." To these judgments should be added that of Goethe: "' Don Juan' is a thoroughly genial work,—misanthropical to the bitterest savageness, tender to the most exquisite delicacy of sweet feelings. . . . The technical execution of the verse is thoroughly in accordance with the strange wild simplicity of the conception and plan : the poet no more thinks of polishing his phrase, than he does of flattering his kind; and yet, when we examine the piece more narrowly, we feel that English poetry is in possession of what the German has never attained, a classically elegant comic style." f