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Travelling for culture: the Grand Tour
Travelling for culture: the Grand Tour

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3.1 Byron at the Colosseum

To get the most out of Byron’s literary account of a trip to ancient Rome, we need to be able to make sense of his verse, so first you’ll spend some time on the basic skills and techniques that you’ll need. Reading poetry can be a bit daunting, so a good way to start is to listen to Samuel West reading an extract from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto IV.

Activity 7

First, listen to the audio recording of the poem.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 1: Samuel West reads nine stanzas (128–9 and 139–45) excerpted from Jerome J. McGann’s edition of
Audio 1: Samuel West reads nine stanzas (128–9 and 139–45) excerpted from Jerome J. McGann’s edition of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto IV.
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Now listen to the recording again, this time while taking a careful look at the text, in Reading 1 (open this in a new tab or window so you can find your way back to the course easily): Reading 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Make a note of any words or phrases you find difficult to understand. There are three things that may help. Firstly, you will find that quite a lot of words have an apostrophe in them – this is what’s called a contraction, and marks where an ‘e’, for example, has been removed. This is so that the reader knows that they are supposed to squash the whole word up into one syllable. Secondly, Byron goes in quite a lot for personification, that is, dealing with abstract non-human entities (such as Rome, Murder) as though they were persons. Finally, there are going to be some words that won’t be very familiar, for example ‘maws’, perhaps. The dictionary is your friend here.

Note: there is no discussion for this activity.

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