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English Bards and Scotch Reviewers

1809 first edition title page, James Cawthorn, London.

English Bards and Scotch Reviewers is an 1809 satirical poem written by Lord Byron published by James Cawthorn in London.

BackgroundEdit

It was first published, anonymously, in March 1809, and a second, expanded edition followed in 1809, with Byron identified as the author. The opening parodies the first satire of Juvenal.

Byron published his first book of poetry, Hours of Idleness, in 1807. It received a brutal, scathing review by Henry Brougham, published anonymously in the Edinburgh Review.[1] That review is a classic of humiliating criticism, often published with Byron's works. Destructive as it seemed, it was probably the making of Byron's career. That first work was juvenile and not particularly distinguished.

Byron reacted to the review with this poem. Though he incorrectly attributed the criticism to Francis Jeffrey, his fury stimulated him to write it with a passion and with such care that made him a first rate poet; and those characteristics never left him.[2] In English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, Byron used heroic couplets in imitation of Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad to attack the reigning poets of Romanticism, including William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Francis Jeffrey, the editor of The Edinburgh Review. He praised instead such Neoclassical poets as Pope and John Dryden. The poem went through several editions, but Byron finally suppressed the 5th edition in 1812 because he had come to regret his attitude toward those he had attacked.

The text is referred to in Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia. It is also referenced in John Edward Williams' novel Stoner, in which it is mistaken by an incompetent graduate student as John Keats' work.

SourcesEdit

  • Garrett, Martin: George Gordon, Lord Byron. (British Library Writers' Lives). London: British Library, 2000. ISBN 0-7123-4657-0.
  • Garrett, Martin. Palgrave Literary Dictionary of Byron. Palgrave, 2010. ISBN 978-0-230-00897-7.
  • Grosskurth, Phyllis: Byron: The Flawed Angel. Hodder, 1997. ISBN 0-340-60753-X.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ward, William S. "Byron's Hours of Idleness and Other than Scotch Reviewers", Modern Language Notes, Vol. 59, No. 8 (Dec., 1944), pp. 547-550.
  2. ^ Mellown, Muriel J. (1981). "Francis Jeffrey, Lord Byron, and English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers," Studies in Scottish Literature, Vol. 16, Iss. 1.

External linksEdit