BYRON, George Gordon Noel, Lord (1788-1824). Autograph manuscript, draft of two stanzas of his poem "Oscar of Alva," comprising stanzas 63 and the first twqo lines of stanza 66. n.p., n.d. [February-March 1807]. A small oblong, 58 x 167mm., in ink on rectos and verso, recto with verse 63 numbered at top, lightly browned, edges of verso reinforced with old tape.
AN EARLY BYRON FRAGMENT
An interesting fragment from the working manuscript of Byron's early poem "Oscar of Alva," a supernatural verse epic set in a castle in Scotland where fratricide is avenged by a ghost which appears at his murderer's wedding (suggested by Schiller's story of "Jeronymo and Lorenzo." The manuscript comprises all of stanza 63 (a climactic point where the ghost's voice is heard) and part of stanza 66, with two lines crossed through by the poet. Stanza 63 reads: "'Tis he, I hear my Murderer's voice,' Replied a darkly gleaming Form, The Hall resounds with thundering noises, And loudly rolls the bursting Storm." The third line differs from the line in the 1807 edition, which read "'A murderer's voice!' the roof replies." Stanza 66 here begins "And who the dreadful Stranger [illegible] And thrice he smiled, with his eye so red, On his Angus bending low the [illegible]."
Byron gave his autograph draft of "Oscar of Alva" to Elizabeth Pigott and charged her with the task of transcribing it for publication. In later years, after the poet had attained fame, she cut the manuscript into pieces. Today, some 14 fragments (approximately 100 lines of the poem's 316 total) similar to the present are recorded in institutional collections (see Index of English Literary Manuscripts, vol.1, part 1, p.342). "Oscar of Alva" was published in Byron's Hours of Idleness (Newark, 1807).