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This semi-autobiographical epic made Lord Byron famous. Written during his two-year post-college tour of Cambridge, the poem is about a disillusioned young man who has had his fill of pleasures (sound familiar?). It was the first of his works to feature the Byronic hero prototype that appears in his later poems. It clearly shows its author as a poet of serious talent.
Many of Byron's best-known poems are his short works. Whether it's a love poem like "She Walks in Beauty" or a contemplative piece like "On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year," Byron demonstrates his gift for exquisitely beautiful lyrics. Grab any edition of his collected works and get acquainted with this poet.
Many poets have tackled the Spanish legend of the lover Don Juan, but Byron's telling is among the best. Who knows - perhaps he felt an affinity with the much-misunderstood nobleman who couldn't take things seriously or keep his pants on. Byron began this poem in 1819 and was still working on it at the time of his death in 1824.
Forget Byron's poems - Edna O'Brien wrote an entire biography just about Byron's love life. Since Byron seems to have courted, slept with or impregnated just about everyone with a pulse, this makes for good reading. It is a fascinating glimpse into the poet's twisted personal life.
The adventurer E. J. Trelawny befriended Byron and Shelley a few years before Shelley died. He wrote two different memoirs of his times with the poets. There is some dispute over the accuracy of his accounts, given that he wrote the memoirs several decades after the events took place. Also, Shelley comes out looking a lot better than Lord Byron, whom Trelawny disliked.
Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley were the twin stars of English Romanticism. Though Byron's fame overshadowed Shelley's during their lifetimes, today scholars examine the two poets side by side. Both were major contributors to English poetry.