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I came across this verse in Canto I, stanza 5, of Byron's The Bride of Abydos:

That blood – he hath not heard – no more –

Can someone explain the use of the dashes here and the meaning of no more?

Here is the full stanza:

Much I misdoubt this wayward boy
Will one day work me more annoy –
I never loved him from his birth,
And – but his arm is little worth, (135)
And scarcely in the chace could cope
With timid fawn or antelope,
Far less would venture into strife
Where man contends for fame and life –
I would not trust that look or tone – (140)
No – nor the blood so near my own –
That blood – he hath not heard – no more
I’ll watch him closer than before.

Here is the full poem.

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    I think he's meant to be talking to himself, or thinking, in disjointed sentences, ending with "That's enough of that!" Jul 18, 2023 at 12:23

1 Answer 1

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Byron’s use of dashes and sentence fragments in this passage helps to convey the agitated state of mind of Giaffir, who has just quarrelled with his (supposed) son Selim, but then “quailed and shrunk askance” from the look of rebellion that he has provoked in the young man.

In a couple of places in this passage, Giaffir starts to form a thought, but then breaks off without completing it. First we have, “I never loved him from his birth, and–but his arm is little worth”, where it seems that Giaffir meant to add something after “and”, perhaps explaining why he never loved Selim, but instead he broke off to criticize Selim’s skill at hunting instead.

Then, in the queried line, Giaffir starts to form the thought, “he [Selim] hath not heard—” but then cuts himself off by saying to himself, “no more”. The implication is that whatever it is that Selim has not heard is so unsettling or uncomfortable, that Giaffir prefers not to complete the sentence, even in thought. This creates suspense for the reader, tantalizing us with the implication that there is something important about Selim’s blood (meaning his family relationships) that Giaffir knows, and Selim does not.

Later in the poem it is revealed that

Selim is actually the son of Giaffir’s brother Abdallah, whom Giaffir murdered. This means that Selim and Zuleika are cousins, not siblings or half-siblings, and their love is not forbidden.

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