Cain: A Mystery is often relegated to the lower division of Byron's poetry. Many critics
focus on the supposedly flawed quality of Cain's poetry, seeing the play as lacking Byron's
'conversational facility'. Focusing on the relationship between Cain's style and its
content, this essay shows that the play's Cain, as the original poet, must speak in 'stumbling
stanzas' as he struggles heroically with language. By foregrounding Cain's struggle
to connect word and event, Byron raises the status of language from vehicle to subject.
Cain's theme is the discovery of the meaning of the word, and the play's construction mirrors
this preoccupation. The essay argues that the often fragmentary and difficult though
strangely beautiful style of Cain is at the service of serious artistic ends.