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(2011) Byron and the politics of freedom and terror, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.


consistency, change, and the Greek war

Stephen Minta

pp. 152-166

The satirical Dedication of Don Juan to Robert Southey was never published in Byron's lifetime. T. S. Eliot thought it "one of the most exhilarating pieces of abuse in the language."2 But since the poem was to appear anonymously, Byron agreed to withdraw the Dedication, writing to his publisher, John Murray, on May 6, 1819: "I won't attack the dog [Southey] so fiercely without putting my name."3 The above lines, ironically poised ("I make no flattering assertions"), constitute a self-consciously parodic affirmation of political consistency that is yet not without a sense of pride. Buff and blue, the colors of Washington's army, were associated in England with the Whig Club and the cover of the Edinburgh Review, and they signal the poet's claim to an unchanging political affiliation, contrasted with what he saw as the political treachery of Southey. The lines, written from Byron's self-imposed exile in Venice, thus hint both at the internationalism of a revolutionary movement and the parochialism of a national politics.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230306608_10

Full citation:

Minta, S. (2011)., Byron: consistency, change, and the Greek war, in M. J. A. Green & P. Pal-Lapinski (eds.), Byron and the politics of freedom and terror, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 152-166.

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