Lara, A Tale

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Lara, A Tale is a rhymed, tragic narrative poem by Lord Byron; first published in 1814. The first work composed after Byron abandoned the idea of giving up writing and buying back his copyrights, it is regarded by critics as a continuation of the autobiographical work begun in The Corsair.[1] Unlike The Corsair, it was published anonymously, in conjunction with Samuel Rogers' Jacqueline.[2]

This powerful narrative poem tells of the fateful return of Count Lara to his home after spending years abroad traveling the orient. One of Byron's footnotes explains that, even though the name "Lara" is of Spanish origin, "no circumstance of local or national description fix[es] the scene or hero of the poem to any country or age". [3]

Returning to his patrimony with a retinue consisting of one foreign-born page, Count Lara resumes the management of his landed estates. Lara's first efforts are crowned with success: only to be undermined by the jealousy and envy of his peers. After a successful duel to defend his honour, the count becomes inexorably caught up in local blood-feuds; which quickly escalate to open warfare between his own followers and the private armies of his enemies.[4]

Fighting against insuperable odds with desperate courage, Count Lara rallies the remnant of his shattered forces and makes for the border to regroup. During a forced night march he is intercepted by a large opposing force: and in the course of the ensuing battle he is mortally wounded, and is retired from the fighting due to the good offices of his ever-faithful oriental page.

As Count Lara lies dying he is confronted by his nemesis, Count Otho, but ignores the latter's taunts to address his dying words to his page in a foreign tongue unknown to his countrymen. Otho arranges the obsequies, but Count Lara's page refuses to desert the graveside, his grief rendering him immune to Otho's threats and pleas not to abandon his former master.[5]


  1. ^ Byron, George Gordon; Lara; The Siege of Corinth; Parisina; The Prisoner of Chillon; The Dream Kessinger publications reprint 2004, editor's notes p16
  2. ^ London Quarterly Review Vol. 11 1814
  3. ^ Byron, George, Gordon. "Lara." The Corsair and Lara. Ed. Peter Cochran. 2009. 52-85. p.52.
  4. ^ Byron, George Gordon. The Poems of Lord Byron. London: Oxford University Press, 1945. pp. 303-319.
  5. ^ Byron, George Gordon. The Poems of Lord Byron. London: Oxford University Press, 1945. pp. 318-319.

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