chapter  9
5 Pages

Verse commentaries on Byron’s poetry 1812–1815

(a) Extract (omitting stanzas IV, VII, VIII, XI, XII) from Rejected Addresses: or The New Theatrum Poetarum, 1812. Drury Lane Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire in February 1809, was reopened in October 1812. The committee of management had invited entries for ‘a fair and free competition for an Address, to be spoken upon the opening of the Theatre’; but all the resulting entries were rejected, and the Committee invited Byron to compose the Address instead. This provided the occasion for Rejected Addresses, published anonymously by the brothers James Smith (1775–1839) and Horace Smith (1779–1849). It consisted of a series of parodies of contemporary poets, purporting to be their entries for the competition. Byron himself enjoyed the joke: ‘I like the volume of “rejected A.” better and better’, he told John Murray on 23 October (LJ, II, 180).