Le Corsaire Poetry Challenge

Le Corsaire Poetry Challenge

We are pleased to be working with the Poetry Society and Young Poets Network to encourage young people to get writing, with a poetry challenge inspired by the epic love story of .

When Lord Byron published The Corsair in February 1814, it sold ten thousand copies on the first day. Readers were caught up in the tale of the brooding Byronic hero – one with “a laughing Devil in his sneer” – who risks his life and his true love for the sake of chivalry. You can read the full text of the poem . 

English National Ballet will be the first UK ballet Company to perform Le Corsaire, a ballet inspired by Byron’s text drawing on the thrilling, passionate tale, and themes of intrigue and tragedy which follow the spirit of Byron’s poem.

The exotic setting of Lord Byron’s The Corsair (1814) proved to be a perfect starting point. The ballet Le Corsaire has been developed over many years with characters and scenes added to suit the nature of storytelling though movement.

The Story

Conrad, the leader of the pirates travels to Turkey and falls in love with a beautiful slave girl, Medora. He rescues her from the cruel Pasha, who has bought her as one of his wives, and they escape back to his island grotto. Encouraged by Medora, Conrad means to rescue the rest of the slave girls, but his second-in-command Birbanto encourages the other pirates to mutiny. In the struggle, Medora is stolen away by the slave merchant and taken back to the Pasha. Conrad and his men disguise themselves and sneak into the palace, where they manage to rescue Medora and another slave girl, Gulnare. But, their ship gets caught in a storm as they try to escape, and a tragic shipwreck ensues…You can read a detailed and find out more about .

National Poetry Challenge

English National Ballet and Young Poets Network are looking for young writers to take inspiration from the ballet Le Corsaire, and submit a poem driven by the epic love story between Medora and Conrad. 

For inspiration, we've created this stunning video showing you extracts from the ballet featuring the blossoming love of Conrad and Medora, which culminates in a tragic shipwreck in the final act. The heightened language of love in Lord Byron’s poem The Corsair is mirrored in the emotive music and expressive movement vocabulary of English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire.

If you're an aspiring writer, have a passion for ballet or just fancy trying something new, join the Young Poets Network and be in with a chance of winning our Le Corsaire writing challenge. Discover more and register online today at

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