“Letter to Lord Byron” (1937; revised 1966) is a long humorous poem by W. H. Auden, written between July and October 1936 and first published in his and Louis MacNeice’s co-authored travel book

Letters from Iceland

(1937). It is Auden’s most extended exercise in “light verse”, a literary mode that he explicitly defends and celebrates within the poem. As its title suggests, it is a verse epistle addressed to the ghost of Lord Byron, as a tribute to the style and tone of the latter’s incomplete comical verse epic

Don Juan

(1819-24), which Auden had been reading on his voyage from Hull to Reykjavik in June 1936. Unlike

Don Juan

, this poem does not attempt to tell a fictional story, but emulates instead Byron’s digressively opinionated passages and literary in-jokes. Auden…

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Citation: Baldick, Chris. "Letter to Lord Byron". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 October 2016 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35830, accessed 14 April 2024.]

35830 Letter to Lord Byron 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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