Culture Magazine

Bryon's Quarantine Poem, Another De-motivational Post

By Praymont
Yesterday, I posted about Leibniz's uninspiring time in quarantine.
Byron, too, seems to have derived little from the measure. Like many travelers in the Mediterranean of his day, Byron had to put in time at a quarantine station at Malta.
On leaving the station, he dashed off a terrible poem called "Farewell to Malta" (May 26, 1811). Here's an excerpt:
Adieu, thou damned’st quarantine,
That gave me fever, and the spleen!
Adieu, that stage which makes us yawn, Sirs,
Adieu, his Excellency’s dancers! ...
And now, O Malta! since thou’st got us,
Thou little military hothouse!
I’ll not offend with words uncivil,
And wish thee rudely at the Devil,
But only stare from out my casement,
And ask, for what is such a place meant?
Then, in my solitary nook,
Return to scribbling, or a book,
Or take my physic while I’m able
(Two spoonfuls hourly by the label),
Prefer my nightcap to my beaver,
And bless the gods I’ve got a fever.
Byron gave the poem to a ship's commander. According to the Palgrave Literary Dictionary of Byron (M. Garrett, 2010), this poem "caused offense 'to all, but particularly' Major-General Hildebrand Oakes, governor or commissioner of the island." (p. 104) Byron wrote of hearing that, "They are all, but particularly Oakes, in a pucker." (Letter to Hobhouse, Nov. 3, 1811)
Byron kept no copy of the poem.

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