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Commentary on "Childe Danny's Pilgrimage"

This poem, which was awarded the Byronic Laurels at the dinner on 7th June 1985, has to be regarded as an important symbolic exegesis of the Byronic spirit, such as is creatively exhumed by the Byron Society. Important features are (1) the strict rhyming metre, in this case in Spenserian stanzas; (2) the imaginative use of fictitious ministering spirits - in this case the river God Isis, and (3) the almost complete absence of what one might call "truth", in these verses.

In fact, although the poet certainly has boldly and accurately captured the "spirit" of the situation, his tendency to exaggerate and, indeed, to lie is quite remarkable. One's initial reaction of moral outrage however, although fully justified, must be put to one side, since the issue needs to be seen in a wider perspective. Indeed, subsequent literary research has now unearthed a few interesting biographical facts about the author. Did you know, for example, that Mr. Paretzky

(i) became Miss New York in 1979, having lied about his sex;

(ii) obtained second place in the All-America Junior Chess Championship in 1983, by lying about his age (he pretended that he was eight years old);

(iii) the academic references that secured him a Rhodes' Scholarship in 1983 were elaborate forgeries; he was able to do this through blackmail of his Director of Studies at College, who he saw, and photographed, in a compromising position with a nanny goat on a geography field trip?

Against such a background of compulsive, psychopathic untruthfulness, it would seem that to expect this deceiving mind to construct a poem that was truthful, as well as lyrical, would be excessive. We must, therefore, be grateful for what we have got (CH).