The Byron Journal

Byron - and Frere - at the Octave

The Byron Journal (2014), 42, (2), 133–144.

Abstract

When in 1817 Byron was introduced to the first two cantos of a putative English epic written by John Hookham Frere, its combination of captivating form, disingenuous intent and light facetiousness of tone quickly impressed itself upon the younger poet's creative consciousness; indeed, it provoked him to find a new voice - his one true great one - and subsequently to compose the finest long poem in the English language since Paradise Lost. Byron assimilated from Frere's work a number of significant elements of which two, enjambment and the variety of stanzaic palette, are amenable to close statistical analysis, allowing us to get under the bonnet of ottava rima and illuminate how Byron achieved what he did. This essay seeks to apply that analysis to Beppo and Canto I of Don Juan, taking a close look at Frere's achievement along the way.

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Author details

Gayle, N.

Gayle, N.