14 votes
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Meaning of "d-n" in "'T is strange—the Hebrew noun which means 'I am,' the English always used to govern d—n"

This is a very subtle piece of wordplay, so it makes for an excellent question. The meaning, believe it or not, is God, and your answer "damn". This is analysed in An Ingenious Jest in Byron's "Don ...
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6 votes
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Meaning of "Where juries cast up what a wife is worth"?

It may refer to the Common Law Tort of ‘criminal conversation’, where ‘conversation’ means ‘sexual intercourse’. Criminal proceedings could be brought by a spouse, usually the husband, against a third ...
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5 votes
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Meaning of "all game and bottom" in Byron's "Don Juan"

My OED (1st edition) gives under sense 14 for "bottom" the following: Physical resources, 'staying power', power of endurance; said esp. of pugilists, wrestlers, race-horses, etc. It gives five ...
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  • 3,860
5 votes
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Meaning of "Was given to her favorite, and now bore his" in Byron's Don Juan

I think it means that Catherine's barouche, which bore her crest on her trip to the Crimea in 1787, was now Don Juan's and bore his crest. (The classical name of the Crimea was Tauris, which was ...
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  • 3,860
5 votes
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Why is a cuckolded husband "fit for heaven" in Byron's Don Juan?

I don't know how it originated, but the idea that cuckolds go to heaven is apparently an old English proverb/saying, not one that was invented by Byron. A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in ...
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  • 204
5 votes

Why was John Keats called a poet “who was kill’d off by one critique”?

Shelley wrote, in his preface to Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, that the critique directed against Keats's poem Endymion was enough to bring about his sudden death at the age of 25: ...
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4 votes
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Meaning of "faithful to the tomb, so there were quarrels" in Byron's "Don Juan"

I think "like Achates, faithful to the tomb" means "like Achates, who was [Aeneas's] faithful friend forever". Just as Achates would join any fight Aeneas was in, so too the attorney would join any ...
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  • 3,860
4 votes

Meaning of "d-n" in "'T is strange—the Hebrew noun which means 'I am,' the English always used to govern d—n"

This is too long for a comment, but I'd like to add to @Rand al'Thor's excellent answer a bit more about the use of "govern" in talking about grammar. Quoting from the online OED's (paywalled) ...
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  • 2,255
4 votes

Meaning of "from crowns to kicks" in Byron's Don Juan

'T is pleasant purchasing our fellow-creatures; And all are to be sold, ... Based on these lines, I think Byron is talking here about the variety of things that can be used to metaphorically "buy" ...
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  • 204
4 votes
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Meaning of a stanza in Byron's Don Juan

The key to this passage is “like” meaning “to the same extent as”, but I will gloss the whole thing. When I give a numbered sense of a word, it’s from the Oxford English Dictionary. With the most ...
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4 votes
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Meaning of "and those things which for an instant clip enjoyment's wings" in Byron's Don Juan

These lines are somewhat obscure, but maybe they can be understood in the context of the immediately following stanza: But soon they grow again and leave their nest.     ‘Oh!’ saith the Psalmist,...
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4 votes
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Meaning of "pig who sees the wind" in Byron's Don Juan

For a discussion of what Byron is saying here, see R.P. Lessenich's Romantic Disillusionism and the Sceptical Tradition: It is in the service of such debauched monarchs and politicians, spoiled by ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "Hounds, when the huntsman tumbles, are at fault" in Byron's Don Juan

I don't agree that this is litotes, since there is no positive to be wrung from the negative constructions. Let's parse the passage a bit more deeply. First stanza summation: The grenadiers had ...
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  • 196
3 votes

Meaning of "With Ismail's storm to soften it the more" in Byron's "Don Juan"

‘Catherine’ is empress Catherine II ‘the Great’ of Russia, and in the poem she has taken Don Juan as her lover and protégé, as she did Grigory Potemkin, Grigory Orlov, and others in reality. ‘It’ ...
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3 votes

What is the rhythm of the line 'I want a hero, an uncommon want'?

Feet are arbitrary concepts in English verse (see this answer for a detailed discussion of the issue), so when you have a line on its own, with no context, it is impossible to say what its scansion ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "but no one dreams of ever being short" in Byron's Don Juan

There’s a double meaning in this line. The stanza, considered on its own, describes various forms of persuasive argument, together with some satirical commentary. For example, line 4 (“For reason ...
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3 votes

Meaning of "Produced her Don more heirs at love than law"

The last paragraph of the question understands the line correctly: according to the rumour, more of Julia’s uncles and aunts were illegitimate (‘heirs at love’) than legitimate (‘heirs at law’). The ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "So shakes the needle, and so stands the pole, as vibrates my fond heart to my fixed soul"

The "needle" is a magnetic needle, and the "pole" one of the earth's poles. This is the image that immediately springs to mind upon hearing the words "needle" and "pole" together, and it fits with ...
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3 votes
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What does this quote in Don Juan by Lord Byron mean? "Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet The unexpected death of some old lady"

It means, "To be left money or property is sweet (pleasant/agreeable/nice) and the unexpected death of an old lady is extremely sweet (pleasant/agreeable/nice)." I'm glad to see the poem ...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "As roll the waves before the settled wind" in Byron's "Don Juan"

A "settled wind" means the same as a steady wind: one whose direction has settled. (For some reason, the best sources I can find for this are translation sites.) This is as opposed to shifting winds - ...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "a lady with apologies abounds" in Byron's Don Juan

It's been a while since I've read Don Juan, but from what I can remember - Byron isn't talking about Julia apologizing here. This stanza happens in between Alfonso first showing up in Julia's bedroom ...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "Israelites" in Byron's Don Juan: "That all the Israelites are fit to mob its next owner for their double-damn'd post-obits"

I think it's a reference to money lenders, who were (or were perceived to be) Jewish. Heirs of rich people would borrow money to support their life styles, money to be paid back (under the terms of a ...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "but beg security will bolt the door"

The verb "beg" goes with "I", and "security" is personified. Byron first quotes Campbell's poem "Gertrude of Wyoming", and then comments on the phrase "transport and security" from it. The words "...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "'T was the boy's "mite," and, like the "widow's," may Perhaps be weigh'd hereafter, if not now"

In plain English the line is saying "The boy's mite was like the widow's mite". This is most likely a reference to the story from the Christian Bible, specifically in the book of Mark, Chapter 12, ...
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  • 3,696
2 votes

Meaning of "from crowns to kicks" in Byron's Don Juan

In that stanza he's talking about buying people, and that line doesn't make sense unless it's describing the totality of the person being purchased—lock, stock, and barrel, so to speak. So I'm pretty ...
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  • 196
2 votes

Meaning of "such as had not staid long with her destiny" in Byron's "Don Juan"

The quote is suggesting the woman died young but had a good life. such as had not staid long with her destiny Staid in Byron's day was used as the past participle of the verb to stay. Today we ...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "The ear becomes more Irish, and less nice" in Byron's Don Juan

‘Nice’ has three senses in the OED that could work in this line: 3.b. Fastidious, fussy, difficult to please 4.a. Faint-hearted, timorous, cowardly, unmanly. Obsolete 10.b. Of the eye, ear, etc.: ...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "Of which the first ne'er knows the second cause" in Byron's Don Juan

The only way that I can make sense of this line is if Byron messed it up for the sake of the rhythm and the rhyme. If you imagine starting out with the phrase: the first never knows the cause of ...
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2 votes
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Where is the object in this clause in Byron's Don Juan?

Palisado is an obsolete form of palisade, which as a verb means: To equip with a palisade ... a palisade (noun) in this context being: A wall of wooden stakes, used as a defensive barrier. As a ...
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2 votes

Meaning of "which some months the same still is" in Byron's 'Don Juan'

The sense of ‘still’ that works in this line is: still, adv. 3.a. With reference to action or condition: Without change, interruption, or cessation; continually, constantly; on every occasion, ...
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