Home  »  Poetry of Byron  »  Poetical Commandments

Lord Byron (1788–1824). Poetry of Byron. 1881.

IV. Satiric

Poetical Commandments

(Don Juan, Canto i. Stanzas 204–206.)

IF ever I should condescend to prose,

I’ll write poetical commandments, which

Shall supersede beyond all doubt all those

That went before; in these I shall enrich

My text with many things that no one knows,

And carry precept to the highest pitch:

I’ll call the work “Longinus o’er a Bottle,

Or, Every Poet his own Aristotle.”

Thou shalt believe in Milton, Dryden, Pope;

Thou shalt not set up Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey;

Because the first is crazed beyond all hope,

The second drunk, the third so quaint and mouthy:

With Crabbe it may be difficult to cope,

And Campbell’s Hipprocrene is somewhat drouthy:

Thou shalt not steal from Samuel Rogers, nor

Commit—flirtation with the muse of Moore.

Thou shalt not covet Mr. Sotheby’s Muse,

His Pegasus, nor any thing that’s his;

Thou shalt not bear false witness like “the Blues”—

(There’s one, at least, is very fond of this);

Thou shalt not write, in short, but what I choose:

This is true criticism, and you may kiss—

Exactly as you please, or not—the rod;

But if you don’t, I’ll lay it on, by G—d!