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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/13

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PREFACE TO THE FIFTH VOLUME.

The plays and poems contained in this volume were written within the space of two years — ^the last two years of Byron's career as a poet. But that was not all. Cantos VI.— XV. of Dan Juan, The Visim of Judgment, The Blues, The Irish Avatar, and other minor poems, belong to the same period. The end was near, and, as though he had received a warning, he hastened to make the roll complete. Proof is impossible, but the impression remains that the greater part of this volume has been passed over and left unread by at least two generations of readers. Old play-goers recall Macready as " Werner," and many per- sons have read Cain ; but apart from students of literature, readers of Sardanapalus and of The Two Foscari are rare; of The Age of Bronze and The Island rarer still. A few of Byron's later poems have shared the fate of Southey's epics; and, yet, with something of Southey's persistence, Byron believed that posterity would weigh his "regular dramas" in a fresh balance, and that his