‘Mazeppa’ is a poem by Lord Byron based on a Ukrainian story about a young man who is punished for an illicit relationship by being tied naked to the back of a wild horse.
In this volume, ‘Mazeppa’ is followed by ‘A Fragment’, Byron’s contribution to the ‘ghost story challenge’ at the Villa Diodati.
What was the ‘ghost story challenge’?
Lord Byron’s suggested one evening at the Villa Diodati in June 1816 that those present – Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont (Mary Shelley’s step-sister), and Byron’s personal physician John Polidori – should turn their hands to the writing of ghost stories. As a result of this Mary Shelley produced Frankenstein, and John Polidori produced The Vampyre, which was adapted from the fragment produced by Byron.