The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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Original Of Byron’s ‘Farewell to Malta’ for sale at Bonhams

Malta Independent Saturday, 19 March 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

The only known manuscript of Byron’s humorous, bantering poem Farewell to Malta is to be auctioned at Bonhams in London on 29 March. It is from the collection of papers and portraits assembled by poet Roy Davids and is estimated at between £15,000-20,000.

Byron wrote the 56 line work, signed with his initial (‘B’) and dated ‘26 May 1811’, in Malta at the very end of his Grand Tour of the Continent, which had lasted nearly two years. A week later, on 3 June, he set sail for England.

In a letter to his friend Hobhouse on 3 November, Byron referred to the poem which, he says, he gave to Commander Fraser because it contained a compliment to his wife. He did not intend “the thing to be bandied about”, he adds, but “no sooner were we sailed than they were set in circulation, and I am told by a lately arrived traveller, that they are all, but particularly Oakes (H.M. Commissioner for Malta), in a pucker, and yet I am sure there is nothing to annoy anybody, or a single personal allusion throughout, as far as I remember, for I kept no copy.”

The poem is thoroughly characteristic of Byron in his most humorously bantering vein, complete with atrocious rhymes (‘yawn, Sirs’ / ‘Dancers’; ‘prate is’ / ‘Gratis’; ‘got us’ / ‘Hothouse’ etc.).

Adieu ye joys of La Valette!

Adieu Sirocco, Sun, & sweat!

Adieu thou Palace rarely entered!

Adieu ye Mansions where

– I've ventured!

Adieu ye cursed streets of stairs!...

The poem was first published in a pirated edition, Hone’s sixth edition of Poems on his Domestic Circumstances (1816), and was later included in the more authoritative Works of Lord Byron (1832).

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