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M A Z E P P A
By
Lord Byron

Byron wrote this poem based on the true story of Mazeppa from Voltaire's "The History of Charles XII, King of Sweden."

The Advertisement written in French, preceding the poem, is from a paragraph in Voltaire's book.  My English copy of the book translates it as follows:

The man who filled this position at that time was a Polish noble named Mazeppa, who had been born in the Palatinate of Podolia; he had been a page to King John Casimir and had acquired a little learning at his court. In his youth he had an affair with the wife of another Polish nobleman. When the husband discovered it, he had him tied stark naked on the back of a wild horse and let him loose in that state. The horse, which came from the Ukraine, returned there, carrying Mazeppa, half-dead from fatigue and hunger. Some peasants succoured him, and he remained among them for a long time, distinguishing himself in several expeditions against the Tartars. His superior learning gave him great prestige among the Cossacks; finally, his daily-increasing reputation forced the tsar to make him prince of the Ukraine.
Here is another fact that might be of interest to the reader . . .

Byron despised his penmanship and therefore usually enlisted someone else to make the final copy of the manuscript.  The person who copied the manuscript of Mazeppa, to be forwarded to the publisher, was Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein and wife of the poet, Percy B. Shelley. This was done when they came to visit Byron in Venice in 1818.  Although completed at that time, Mazeppa was not published until June 28, 1819.

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