Reading Lord Byron’s poetry is never dull, reading Don Juan is a delighting way to pass your evening. From the very first stanzas the reader will be giggling and keeping a smile that will only be eclipsed at knowing the extent of the poem, for Byron himself joked about long poems “... When poets say, ´I’ve written fifty rhymes,´/ They make you dread that they’ll recite them too.” (Don Juan, Lord Byron, Canto I, 108) Then, knowing that only Canto I (out of XVII cantos) has 222 stanzas... the reader may reconsider reading Don Juan and instead, trade it for Lara. But we can just read some parts of the poem (for that is what I did too) and not feel guilty and take counsel from Harold Bloom “In reading a series of excerpts from Don Juan, we need not feel that we are betraying the poem, which frankly digressive, unfinished and unfinishable (it would have gone on as long as Byron did),” (The Oxford Anthology of English Literature, Harold Bloom, 265) That may help our conscience to rest, but let us always remember that reading Don Juan is not a burden, is a delight. But what makes Don Juan a must read work? Why would Shelley thought that it was a revolutionary poem? Why did Harold Bloom state that Byron had accomplished “...- Don Juan and everything else.” (235)? In this essay I will try to understand and point out some of these virtues that make Don Juan a masterpiece of both Lord Byron and the Romantic period in England. First of all, Don Juan was composed in a very complex and exotic way for the English, which is called the ottava rima, a complex Italian stanza which rhyme is abababcc
“It was upon a day, a summer’s day A Summer’s indee a very dangerous season, B And so is spring about the end of May. A The sun no doubt is the prevailing reason, B But whatsoe’er the cause is, one may say A And stand convicted of more truth...
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