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Don Juan, Canto V

Don Juan, Canto V by Lord George Gordon Byron
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Juan, captured by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery is bought by a beautiful Princess as her toy-boy. Dressed as an odalisque, he is smuggled into the Sultan’s harem for a steamy assignation. Unbelievably, Byron’s publisher almost baulked at this feast of allusive irony, blasphemy (mild), calumny, scorn, lesse-majeste, cross-dressing, bestiality, assassination, circumcision and dwarf-tossing. This was the last Canto published by the stuffy John Murray (who had, however, made a tidy fortune on the earlier parts of the Epic). Although Byron’s mood starts, after this, to grow darker and his bitterness at English hypocrisy to grow sharper, his discursive comedy and precise and intriguing rhyme is rarely better than in Canto V.

First Page:

DON JUAN

By Lord Byron

[Illustration: Frontispiece]

[Illustration: Titlepage]

[Illustration: Dedication]

[Note: Stanza and Line numbers have not been included.]

DEDICATION

Bob Southey! You're a poet, poet laureate, And representative of all the race. Although 'tis true that you turned 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,

Which pye being opened 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 encumbered with his hood, Explaining metaphysics to the nation. I wish he would explain his explanation.

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... Continue reading book >>


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