Admirin’ Byron

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That a romantic could have also been
So classical is striking you’ll agree
Though waxing passionate when we are green
And cooler when mature is probably
A change determined in the very gene
Or so at any rate it seems to me –
Our grasp of life is just that bit more firm,
Our reason turns like the proverbial worm.

And in Don Juan it turns like billy-oh.
(Don Ju-an is the poem’s actual title
But it would cause the line to overflow
Its metric banks so, scansion being vital,
I plumped for Juan just then; for all I know
I shall again, though not to scan it right’ll
I fear annoy you, and you doubtless yelped
At this misnomer, but it can’t be helped.)

I read it first when I was seventeen
And it enthralled me even then despite
My being obviously far more keen
Than comprehending; long into the night
I’d labour over what a line might mean
And sometimes wish, though fairly erudite,
He hadn’t put in such a host of quotes
My nose was all but buried in the notes.

At thirty I returned to it with glee,
Its wit, its charm, its wisdom and its wry,
World-weary take on life delighted me.
Civilization is distinguished by
Such understatement and such irony,
And they’re what make the English, by the by,
(Or so, for all he hated them, thought Byron)
A race one simply cannot help admirin’.

To quote a poem in a poem seems
A touch like fraudulently expediting
One’s composition; when one’s own rhyme scheme’s
The same as that about which one is writing
The fraudulence is worse; so, though my theme’s
A literary critique, I shan’t be citing
My subject; you must take it from the shelf
And look for illustrations for yourself.

What’s that I hear you say? You haven’t got it?
Off to your local bookshop, then, at once!
Not got Don Juan? You should be garrotted!
And when there’s so much sawdust in your bonce,
As every reader’s brain these days is dotted
With books to which

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About the contributor

Ranjit Bolt’s a translator for the stage
And specializes in French plays in rhyme.
He had a job once with a steady wage
But gave it up in 1989
When his Corneilles were briefly all the rage.
Original work comprises at this time
One novel, Losing It, now pulped and gone
But still available from Amazon.

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