This essay examines the subjects of candour, poetry and lying in a selection of Byron’s later writings. I have chosen as the focus of my attention passages from Canto XIV of Don Juan (1823) because it appears to me that there are some interesting revisions undertaken there to the poem’s predominating statements about its relation to the world, and its claims – however playful – about truth and falsehood. Those statements tend to repeat in one form or another Byron’s factual aesthetic, an aesthetic manifesting in the repeated claims in the early cantos that the poet is simply reflecting back to us a world unadulterated by the charms of ‘poesy’ or affectation. 1 Later in the poem Byron seeks to modify this model: it is not that he wishes to retract claims for ‘truth’ but that he makes the very question of truth in poetry both problematic and increasingly sophisticated. I think that this has been missed by most of Byron’s commentators. Further, I will suggest that the exploration of truth and falsity in Canto XIV owes its depth of consideration to Byron’s participation in the ‘Bowles controversy’ in which there are two dimensions: the notion of the truly poetic, and the attribution – or otherwise – of moral worth and integrity to poets and their editors and commentators. Finally, I should note that my approach here, as is fitting, follows those Byron critics whose insights derive from the nuanced study of Byron’s use of language. 2