Don Juan
"Canto the Fourth"
by George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)


		1

1   Nothing so difficult as a beginning 
2      In poesy, unless perhaps the end; 
3   For oftentimes when Pegasus seems winning 
4      The race, he sprains a wing, and down we tend, 
5   Like Lucifer when hurl'd from heaven for sinning; 
6      Our sin the same, and hard as his to mend, 
7   Being pride, which leads the mind to soar too far, 
8   Till our own weakness shows us what we are. 


		2

9   But Time, which brings all beings to their level, 
10      And sharp Adversity, will teach at last 
11   Man,---and, as we would hope,---perhaps the devil, 
12      That neither of their intellects are vast: 
13   While youth's hot wishes in our red veins revel, 
14      We know not this---the blood flows on too fast; 
15   But as the torrent widens towards the ocean, 
16   We ponder deeply on each past emotion. 


		3

17   As boy, I thought myself a clever fellow, 
18      And wish'd that others held the same opinion; 
19   They took it up when my days grew more mellow, 
20      And other minds acknowledged my dominion: 
21   Now my sere fancy "falls into the yellow 
22      Leaf," and imagination droops her pinion, 
23   And the sad truth which hovers o'er my desk 
24   Turns what was once romantic to burlesque. 


		4

25   And if I laugh at any mortal thing, 
26      'Tis that I may not weep; and if I weep, 
27   'Tis that our nature cannot always bring 
28      Itself to apathy, for we must steep 
29   Our hearts first in the depths of Lethe's spring, 
30      Ere what we least wish to behold will sleep: 
31   Thetis baptized her mortal son in Styx; 
32   A mortal mother would on Lethe fix. 


		5

33   Some have accused me of a strange design 
34      Against the creed and morals of the land, 
35   And trace it in this poem every line: 
36      I don't pretend that I quite understand 
37   My own meaning when I would be very fine; 
38      But the fact is that I have nothing plann'd, 
39   Unless it were to be a moment merry, 
40   A novel word in my vocabulary. 


		6

41   To the kind reader of our sober clime 
42      This way of writing will appear exotic; 
43   Pulci was sire of the half-serious rhyme, 
44      Who sang when chivalry was more Quixotic, 
45   And revell'd in the fancies of the time, 
46      True knights, chaste dames, huge giants, kings despotic; 
47   But all these, save the last, being obsolete, 
48   I chose a modern subject as more meet. 


		7

49   How I have treated it, I do not know; 
50      Perhaps no better than they have treated me 
51   Who have imputed such designs as show 
52      Not what they saw, but what they wish'd to see; 
53   But if it gives them pleasure, be it so, 
54      This is a liberal age, and thoughts are free: 
55   Meantime Apollo plucks me by the ear, 
56   And tells me to resume my story here. 


		8

57   Young Juan and his lady-love were left 
58      To their own hearts' most sweet society; 
59   Even Time the pitiless in sorrow cleft 
60      With his rude scythe such gentle bosoms; he 
61   Sigh'd to behold them of their hours bereft 
62      Though foe to love; and yet they could not be 
63   Meant to grow old, but die in happy spring, 
64   Before one charm or hope had taken wing. 


		9

65   Their faces were not made for wrinkles, their 
66      Pure blood to stagnate, their great hearts to fail; 
67   The blank grey was not made to blast their hair, 
68      But like the climes that know nor snow nor hail 
69   They were all summer: lightning might assail 
70      And shiver them to ashes, but to trail 
71   A long and snake-like life of dull decay 
72   Was not for them---they had too little clay. 


		10

73   They were alone once more; for them to be 
74      Thus was another Eden; they were never 
75   Weary, unless when separate: the tree 
76      Cut from its forest root of years---the river 
77   Damm'd from its fountain---the child from the knee 
78      And breast maternal wean'd at once for ever, 
79   Would wither less than these two torn apart; 
80   Alas! there is no instinct like the heart--- 


		11

81   The heart---which may be broken: happy they! 
82      Thrice fortunate! who of that fragile mould, 
83   The precious porcelain of human clay, 
84      Break with the first fall: they can ne'er behold 
85   The long year link'd with heavy day on day, 
86      And all which must be borne, and never told; 
87   While life's strange principle will often lie 
88   Deepest in those who long the most to die. 


		12

89   "Whom the gods love die young" was said of yore, 
90      And many deaths do they escape by this: 
91   The death of friends, and that which slays even more--- 
92      The death of friendship, love, youth, all that is, 
93   Except mere breath; and since the silent shore 
94      Awaits at last even those whom longest miss 
95   The old archer's shafts, perhaps the early grave 
96   Which men weep over may be meant to save. 


		13

97   Haidée and Juan thought not of the dead. 
98      The heavens and earth, and air, seem'd made for them: 
99   They found no fault with Time, save that he fled; 
100      They saw not in themselves aught to condemn: 
101   Each was the other's mirror, and but read 
102      Joy sparkling in their dark eyes like a gem, 
103   And knew such brightness was but the reflection 
104   Of their exchanging glances of affection. 


		14

105   The gentle pressure, and the thrilling touch, 
106      The least glance better understood than words, 
107   Which still said all, and ne'er could say too much; 
108      A language, too, but like to that of birds, 
109   Known but to them, at least appearing such 
110      As but to lovers a true sense affords; 
111   Sweet playful phrases, which would seem absurd 
112   To those who have ceased to hear such, or ne'er heard: 


		15

113   All these were theirs, for they were children still, 
114      And children still they should have ever been; 
115   They were not made in the real world to fill 
116      A busy character in the dull scene, 
117   But like two beings born from out a rill, 
118      A nymph and her beloved, all unseen 
119   To pass their lives in fountains and on flowers, 
120   And never know the weight of human hours. 


		16

121   Moons changing had roll'd on, and changeless found 
122      Those their bright rise had lighted to such joys 
123   As rarely they beheld throughout their round; 
124      And these were not of the vain kind which cloys, 
125   For theirs were buoyant spirits, never bound 
126      By the mere senses; and that which destroys 
127   Most love, possession, unto them appear'd 
128   A thing which each endearment more endear'd. 


		17

129   Oh beautiful! and rare as beautiful! 
130      But theirs was love in which the mind delights 
131   To lose itself, when the old world grows dull, 
132      And we are sick of its hack sounds and sights, 
133   Intrigues, adventures of the common school, 
134      Its petty passions, marriages, and flights, 
135   Where Hymen's torch but brands one strumpet more, 
136   Whose husband only knows her not a wh---re. 


		18

137   Hard words; harsh truth; a truth which many know. 
138      Enough.---The faithful and the fairy pair, 
139   Who never found a single hour too slow, 
140      What was it made them thus exempt from care? 
141   Young innate feelings all have felt below 
142      Which perish in the rest, but in them were 
143   Inherent; what we mortals call romantic, 
144   And always envy, though we deem it frantic. 


		19

145   This is in others a factitious state, 
146      An opium dream of too much youth and reading, 
147   But was in them their nature, or their fate: 
148      No novels e'er had set their young hearts bleeding, 
149   For Haidée's knowledge was by no means great, 
150      And Juan was a boy of saintly breeding; 
151   So that there was no reason for their loves 
152   More than for those of nightingales or doves. 


		20

153   They gazed upon the sunset; 'tis an hour 
154      Dear unto all, but dearest to their eyes, 
155   For it had made them what they were: the power 
156      Of love had first o'erwhelm'd them from such skies, 
157   When happiness had been their only dower, 
158      And twilight saw them link'd in passion's ties; 
159   Charm'd with each other, all things charm'd that brought 
160   The past still welcome as the present thought. 


		21

161   I know not why, but in that hour to-night, 
162      Even as they gazed, a sudden tremor came, 
163   And swept, as 'twere, across their heart's delight, 
164      Like the wind o'er a harp-string, or a flame, 
165   When one is shook in sound, and one in sight; 
166      And thus some boding flash'd through either frame, 
167   And called from Juan's breast a faint low sigh, 
168   While one new tear arose in Haidée's eye. 


		22

169   That large black prophet eye seem'd to dilate 
170      And follow far the disappearing sun, 
171   As if their last day of a happy date 
172      With his broad, bright, and dropping orb were gone; 
173   Juan gazed on her as to ask his fate--- 
174      He felt a grief, but knowing cause for none, 
175   His glance inquired of hers for some excuse 
176   For feelings causeless, or at least abstruse. 


		23

177   She turn'd to him, and smiled, but in that sort 
178      Which makes not others smile; then turn'd aside: 
179   Whatever feeling shook her, it seem'd short, 
180      And master'd by her wisdom or her pride; 
181   When Juan spoke, too---it might be in sport--- 
182      Of this their mutual feeling, she replied--- 
183   "If it should be so,---but---it cannot be--- 
184   Or I at least shall not survive to see." 


		24

185   Juan would question further, but she press'd 
186      His lip to hers, and silenced him with this, 
187   And then dismiss'd the omen from her breast, 
188      Defying augury with that fond kiss; 
189   And no doubt of all methods 'tis the best: 
190      Some people prefer wine---'tis not amiss; 
191   I have tried both; so those who would a part take 
192   May choose between the headache and the heartache. 


		25

193   One of the two, according to your choice, 
194      Woman or wine, you'll have to undergo; 
195   Both maladies are taxes on our joys: 
196      But which to choose, I really hardly know; 
197   And if I had to give a casting voice, 
198      For both sides I could many reasons show, 
199   And then decide, without great wrong to either, 
200   It were much better to have both than neither. 


		26

201   Juan and Haidée gazed upon each other 
202      With swimming looks of speechless tenderness, 
203   Which mix'd all feelings, friend, child, lover, brother, 
204      All that the best can mingle and express 
205   When two pure hearts are pour'd in one another, 
206      And love too much, and yet can not love less; 
207   But almost sanctify the sweet excess 
208   By the immortal wish and power to bless. 


		27

209   Mix'd in each other's arms, and heart in heart, 
210      Why did they not then die?---they had lived too long 
211   Should an hour come to bid them breathe apart; 
212      Years could but bring them cruel things or wrong, 
213   The world was not for them, nor the world's art 
214      For beings passionate as Sappho's song; 
215   Love was born with them, in them, so intense, 
216   It was their very spirit---not a sense. 


		28

217   They should have lived together deep in woods, 
218      Unseen as sings the nightingale; they were 
219   Unfit to mix in these thick solitudes 
220      Call'd social, haunts of Hate, and Vice, and Care: 
221   How lonely every freeborn creature broods! 
222      The sweetest song-birds nestle in a pair; 
223   The eagle soars alone; the gull and crow 
224   Flock o'er their carrion, just like men below. 


		29

225   Now pillow'd cheek to cheek, in loving sleep, 
226      Haidée and Juan their siesta took, 
227   A gentle slumber, but it was not deep, 
228      For ever and anon a something shook 
229   Juan, and shuddering o'er his frame would creep; 
230      And Haidée's sweet lips murmur'd like a brook 
231   A wordless music, and her face so fair 
232   Stirr'd with her dream as rose-leaves with the air: 


		30

233   Or as the stirring of a deep clear stream 
234      Within an Alpine hollow, when the wind 
235   Walks o'er it, was she shaken by the dream, 
236      The mystical usurper of the mind--- 
237   O'erpowering us to be whate'er may seem 
238      Good to the soul which we no more can bind; 
239   Strange state of being! (for 'tis still to be) 
240   Senseless to feel, and with seal'd eyes to see. 


		31

241   She dream'd of being alone on the sea-shore, 
242      Chain'd to a rock; she knew not how, but stir 
243   She could not from the spot, and the loud roar 
244      Grew, and each wave rose roughly, threatening her; 
245   And o'er her upper lip they seem'd to pour, 
246      Until she sobb'd for breath, and soon they were 
247   Foaming o'er her lone head, so fierce and high 
248   Each broke to drown her, yet she could not die. 


		32

249   Anon---she was released, and then she stray'd 
250      O'er the sharp shingles with her bleeding feet, 
251   And stumbled almost every step she made; 
252      And something roll'd before her in a sheet, 
253   Which she must still pursue howe'er afraid; 
254      'Twas white and indistinct, nor stopp'd to meet 
255   Her glance nor grasp, for still she gazed and grasp'd, 
256   And ran, but it escaped her as she clasp'd. 


		33

257   The dream changed; in a cave she stood, its walls 
258      Were hung with marble icicles; the work 
259   Of ages on its water-fretted halls, 
260      Where waves might wash, and seals might breed and lurk; 
261   Her hair was dripping, and the very balls 
262      Of her black eyes seem'd turn'd to tears, and murk 
263   The sharp rocks look'd below each drop they caught, 
264   Which froze to marble as it fell, she thought. 


		34

265   And wet, and cold, and lifeless at her feet, 
266      Pale as the foam that froth'd on his dead brow, 
267   Which she essay'd in vain to clear, (how sweet 
268      Were once her cares, how idle seem'd they now!) 
269   Lay Juan, nor could aught renew the beat 
270      Of his quench'd heart; and the sea dirges low 
271   Rang in her sad ears like a mermaid's song, 
272   And that brief dream appear'd a life too long. 


		35

273   And gazing on the dead, she thought his face 
274      Faded, or alter'd into something new--- 
275   Like to her father's features, till each trace 
276      More like and like to Lambro's aspect grew--- 
277   With all his keen worn look and Grecian grace; 
278      And starting, she awoke, and what to view? 
279   Oh! Powers of Heaven! what dark eye meets she there? 
280   'Tis---'tis her father's---fix'd upon the pair! 


		36

281   Then shrieking, she arose, and shrieking fell, 
282      With joy and sorrow, hope and fear, to see 
283   Him whom she deem'd a habitant where dwell 
284      The ocean-buried, risen from death, to be 
285   Perchance the death of one she loved too well: 
286      Dear as her father had been to Haidée, 
287   It was a moment of that awful kind--- 
288   I have seen such---but must not call to mind. 


		37

289   Up Juan sprung to Haidée's bitter shriek, 
290      And caught her falling, and from off the wall 
291   Snatch'd down his sabre, in hot haste to wreak 
292      Vengeance on him who was the cause of all: 
293   Then Lambro, who till now forbore to speak, 
294      Smiled scornfully, and said, "Within my call, 
295   A thousand scimitars await the word; 
296   Put up, young man, put up your silly sword." 


		38

297   And Haidée clung around him; "Juan, 'tis--- 
298      'Tis Lambro---'tis my father! Kneel with me--- 
299   He will forgive us---yes---it must be---yes. 
300      Oh! dearest father, in this agony 
301   Of pleasure and of pain---even while I kiss 
302      Thy garment's hem with transport, can it be 
303   That doubt should mingle with my filial joy? 
304   Deal with me as thou wilt, but spare this boy." 


		39

305   High and inscrutable the old man stood, 
306      Calm in his voice, and calm within his eye--- 
307   Not always signs with him of calmest mood: 
308      He look'd upon her, but gave no reply; 
309   Then turn'd to Juan, in whose cheek the blood 
310      Oft came and went, as there resolved to die; 
311   In arms, at least, he stood, in act to spring 
312   On the first foe whom Lambro's call might bring. 


		40

313   "Young man, your sword"; so Lambro once more said: 
314      Juan replied, "Not while this arm is free." 
315   The old man's cheek grew pale, but not with dread, 
316      And drawing from his belt a pistol, he 
317   Replied, "Your blood be then on your own head." 
318      Then look'd close at the flint, as if to see 
319   'Twas fresh---for he had lately used the lock--- 
320   And next proceeded quietly to cock. 


		41

321   It has a strange quick jar upon the ear, 
322      That cocking of a pistol, when you know 
323   A moment more will bring the sight to bear 
324      Upon your person, twelve yards off, or so; 
325   A gentlemanly distance, not too near, 
326      If you have got a former friend for foe; 
327   But after being fired at once or twice, 
328   The ear becomes more Irish, and less nice. 


		42

329   Lambro presented, and one instant more 
330      Had stopp'd this Canto, and Don Juan's breath, 
331   When Haidée threw herself her boy before; 
332      Stern as her sire: "On me," she cried, "let death 
333   Descend---the fault is mine; this fatal shore 
334      He found---but sought not. I have pledged my faith; 
335   I love him---I will die with him: I knew 
336   Your nature's firmness---know your daughter's too." 


		43

337   A minute past, and she had been all tears, 
338      And tenderness, and infancy: but now 
339   She stood as one who champion'd human fears--- 
340      Pale, statue-like, and stern, she woo'd the blow; 
341   And tall beyond her sex, and their compeers, 
342      She drew up to her height, as if to show 
343   A fairer mark; and with a fix'd eye scann'd 
344   Her father's face---but never stopp'd his hand. 


		44

345   He gazed on her, and she on him; 'twas strange 
346      How like they looked! the expression was the same; 
347   Serenely savage, with a little change 
348      In the large dark eye's mutual-darted flame; 
349   For she too was as one who could avenge, 
350      If cause should be---a lioness, though tame: 
351   Her father's blood before her father's face 
352   Boil'd up, and proved her truly of his race. 


		45

353   I said they were alike, their features and 
354      Their stature differing but in sex and years; 
355   Even to the delicacy of their hand 
356      There was resemblance, such as true blood wears; 
357   And now to see them, thus divided, stand 
358      In fix'd ferocity, when joyous tears, 
359   And sweet sensations, should have welcomed both, 
360   Show what the passions are in their full growth. 


		46

361   The father paused a moment, then withdrew 
362      His weapon, and replaced it; but stood still, 
363   And looking on her, as to look her through, 
364      "Not I ," he said, "have sought this stranger's ill; 
365   Not I have made this desolation: few 
366      Would bear such outrage, and forbear to kill; 
367   But I must do my duty---how thou hast 
368   Done thine, the present vouches for the past. 


		47

369   "Let him disarm; or, by my father's head, 
370      His own shall roll before you like a ball!" 
371   He raised his whistle, as the word he said, 
372      And blew; another answered to the call, 
373   And rushing in disorderly, though led, 
374      And arm'd from boot to turban, one and all, 
375   Some twenty of his train came, rank on rank; 
376   He gave the word, "Arrest or slay the Frank." 


		48

377   Then, with a sudden movement, he withdrew 
378      His daughter; while compress'd within his clasp, 
379   'Twixt her and Juan interposed the crew; 
380      In vain she struggled in her father's grasp--- 
381   His arms were like a serpent's coil: then flew 
382      Upon their prey, as darts an angry asp, 
383   The file of pirates; save the foremost, who 
384   Had fallen, with his right shoulder half cut through. 


		49

385   The second had his cheek laid open; but 
386      The third, a wary, cool old sworder, took 
387   The blows upon his cutlass, and then put 
388      His own well in; so well, ere you could look, 
389   His man was floor'd, and helpless at his foot, 
390      With the blood running like a little brook 
391   From two smart sabre gashes, deep and red--- 
392   One on the arm, the other on the head. 


		50

393   And then they bound him where he fell, and bore 
394      Juan from the apartment: with a sign 
395   Old Lambro bade them take him to the shore, 
396      Where lay some ships which were to sail at nine. 
397   They laid him in a boat, and plied the oar 
398      Until they reach'd some galliots, placed in line; 
399   On board of one of these, and under hatches, 
400   They stowed him, with strict orders to the watches. 


		51

401   The world is full of strange vicissitudes, 
402      And here was one exceedingly unpleasant: 
403   A gentleman so rich in the world's goods, 
404      Handsome and young, enjoying all the present, 
405   Just at the very time when he least broods 
406      On such a thing is suddenly to sea sent, 
407   Wounded and chain'd, so that he cannot move, 
408   And all because a lady fell in love. 


		52

409   Here I must leave him, for I grow pathetic, 
410      Moved by the Chinese nymph of tears, green tea! 
411   Than whom Cassandra was not more prophetic; 
412      For if my pure libations exceed three, 
413   I feel my heart become so sympathetic, 
414      That I must have recourse to black Bohea: 
415   'Tis pity wine should be so deleterious, 
416   For tea and coffee leave us much more serious, 


		53

417   Unless when qualified with thee, Cogniac! 
418      Sweet Naïad of the Phlegethontic rill! 
419   Ah! why the liver wilt thou thus attack, 
420      And make, like other nymphs, thy lovers ill? 
421   I would take refuge in weak punch, but rack 
422      (In each sense of the word), whene'er I fill 
423   My mild and midnight beakers to the brim, 
424   Wakes me next morning with its synonym. 


		54

425   I leave Don Juan for the present, safe--- 
426      Not sound, poor fellow, but severely wounded; 
427   Yet could his corporal pangs amount to half 
428      Of those with which his Haidée's bosom bounded! 
429   She was not one to weep, and rave, and chafe, 
430      And then give way, subdued because surrounded; 
431   Her mother was a Moorish maid, from Fez, 
432   Where all is Eden, or a wilderness. 


		55

433   There the large olive rains its amber store 
434      In marble fonts; there grain, and flower, and fruit, 
435   Gush from the earth until the land runs o'er; 
436      But there too many a poison-tree has root, 
437   And midnight listens to the lion's roar, 
438      And long, long deserts scorch the camel's foot, 
439   Or heaving whelm the helpless caravan, 
440   And as the soil is, so the heart of man. 


		56

441   Afric is all the sun's, and as her earth 
442      Her human clay is kindled; full of power 
443   For good or evil, burning from its birth, 
444      The Moorish blood partakes the planet's hour, 
445   And like the soil beneath it will bring forth: 
446      Beauty and love were Haidée's mother's dower; 
447   But her large dark eye show'd deep Passion's force, 
448   Though sleeping like a lion near a source. 


		57

449   Her daughter, temper'd with a milder ray, 
450      Like summer clouds all silvery, smooth, and fair, 
451   Till slowly charged with thunder they display 
452      Terror to earth, and tempest to the air, 
453   Had held till now her soft and milky way; 
454      But overwrought with passion and despair, 
455   The fire burst forth from her Numidian veins, 
456   Even as the Simoom sweeps the blasted plains. 


		58

457   The last sight which she saw was Juan's gore, 
458      And he himself o'ermaster'd and cut down; 
459   His blood was running on the very floor 
460      Where late he trod, her beautiful, her own; 
461   Thus much she view'd an instant and no more,--- 
462      Her struggles ceased with one convulsive groan; 
463   On her sire's arm, which until now scarce held 
464   Her writhing, fell she like a cedar fell'd. 


		59

465   A vein had burst, and her sweet lips' pure dyes 
466      Were dabbled with the deep blood which ran o'er; 
467   And her head droop'd as when the lily lies 
468      O'ercharged with rain: her summon'd handmaids bore 
469   Their lady to her couch with gushing eyes; 
470      Of herbs and cordials they produced their store, 
471   But she defied all means they could employ, 
472   Like one life could not hold, nor death destroy. 


		60

473   Days lay she in that state unchanged, though chill 
474      With nothing livid, still her lips were red; 
475   She had no pulse, but death seem'd absent still; 
476      No hideous sign proclaim'd her surely dead; 
477   Corruption came not in each mind to kill 
478      All hope; to look upon her sweet face bred 
479   New thoughts of life, for it seem'd full of soul, 
480   She had so much, earth could not claim the whole. 


		61

481   The ruling passion, such as marble shows 
482      When exquisitely chisell'd, still lay there, 
483   But fix'd as marble's unchanged aspect throws 
484      O'er the fair Venus, but for ever fair; 
485   O'er the Laocoon's all eternal throes, 
486      And ever-dying Gladiator's air, 
487   Their energy like life forms all their fame, 
488   Yet looks not life, for they are still the same. 


		62

489   She woke at length, but not as sleepers wake, 
490      Rather the dead, for life seem'd something new, 
491   A strange sensation which she must partake 
492      Perforce, since whatsoever met her view 
493   Struck not on memory, though a heavy ache 
494      Lay at her heart, whose earliest beat still true 
495   Brought back the sense of pain without the cause, 
496   For, for a while, the furies made a pause. 


		63

497   She look'd on many a face with vacant eye, 
498      On many a token without knowing what; 
499   She saw them watch her without asking why, 
500      And reck'd not who around her pillow sat; 
501   Not speechless though she spoke not; not a sigh 
502      Relieved her thoughts; dull silence and quick chat 
503   Were tried in vain by those who served; she gave 
504   No sign, save breath, of having left the grave. 


		64

505   Her handmaids tended, but she heeded not; 
506      Her father watch'd, she turn'd her eyes away; 
507   She recognised no being, and no spot 
508      However dear or cherish'd in their day; 
509   They changed from room to room, but all forgot, 
510      Gentle, but without memory she lay; 
511   At length those eyes, which they would fain be weaning 
512   Back to old thoughts, wax'd full of fearful meaning. 


		65

513   And then a slave bethought her of a harp; 
514      The harper came, and tuned his instrument; 
515   At the first notes, irregular and sharp, 
516      On him her flashing eyes a moment bent, 
517   Then to the wall she turn'd as if to warp 
518      Her thoughts from sorrow through her heart re-sent, 
519   And he begun a long low island song 
520   Of ancient days, ere tyranny grew strong. 


		66

521   Anon her thin wan fingers beat the wall 
522      In time to his old tune; he changed the theme, 
523   And sung of love; the fierce name struck through all 
524      Her recollection; on her flash'd the dream 
525   Of what she was, and is, if ye could call 
526      To be so being; in a gushing stream 
527   The tears rush'd forth from her o'erclouded brain, 
528   Like mountain mists at length dissolved in rain. 


		67

529   Short solace, in vain relief!---thought came too quick, 
530      And whirl'd her brain to madness; she arose 
531   As one who ne'er had dwelt among the sick, 
532      And flew at all she met, as on her foes; 
533   But no one ever heard her speak or shriek, 
534      Although her paroxysm drew towards its close: 
535   Hers was a phrensy which disdain'd to rave, 
536   Even when they smote her, in the hope to save. 


		68

537   Yet she betray'd at times a gleam of sense; 
538      Nothing could make her meet her father's face, 
539   Though on all other things with looks intense 
540      She gazed, but none she ever could retrace; 
541   Food she refused, and raiment; no pretence 
542      Availed for either; neither change of place, 
543   Nor time, nor skill, nor remedy, could give her 
544   Senses to sleep---the power seem'd gone for ever. 


		69

545   Twelve days and nights she wither'd thus; at last, 
546      Without a groan, or sigh, or glance, to show 
547   A parting pang, the spirit from her past: 
548      And they who watch'd her nearest could not know 
549   The very instant, till the change that cast 
550      Her sweet face into shadow, dull and slow, 
551   Glazed o'er her eyes---the beautiful, the black--- 
552   Oh! to possess such lustre---and then lack! 


		70

553   She died, but not alone; she held within 
554      A second principle of life, which might 
555   Have dawn'd a fair and sinless child of sin; 
556      But closed its little being without light, 
557   And went down to the grave unborn, wherein 
558      Blossom and bough lie wither'd with one blight; 
559   In vain the dews of Heaven descend above 
560   The bleeding flower and blasted fruit of love. 


		71

561   Thus lived---thus died she; never more on her 
562      Shall sorrow light, or shame. She was not made 
563   Through years or moons the inner weight to bear, 
564      Which colder hearts endure till they are laid 
565   By age in earth; her days and pleasures were 
566      Brief, but delightful---such as had not staid 
567   Long with her destiny; but she sleeps well 
568   By the sea shore, whereon she loved to dwell. 


		72

569   That isle is now all desolate and bare, 
570      Its dwellings down, its tenants past away; 
571   None but her own and father's grave is there, 
572      And nothing outward tells of human clay; 
573   Ye could not know where lies a thing so fair, 
574      No stone is there to show, no tongue to say 
575   What was; no dirge, except the hollow sea's, 
576   Mourns o'er the beauty of the Cyclades. 


		73

577   But many a Greek maid in a loving song 
578      Sighs o'er her name; and many an islander 
579   With her sire's story makes the night less long; 
580      Valour was his, and beauty dwelt with her; 
581   If she loved rashly, her life paid for wrong--- 
582      A heavy price must all pay who thus err, 
583   In some shape; let none think to fly the danger, 
584   For soon or late Love is his own avenger. 


		74

585   But let me change this theme, which grows too sad, 
586      And lay this sheet of sorrows on the shelf; 
587   I don't much like describing people mad, 
588      For fear of seeming rather touch'd myself--- 
589   Besides I've no more on this head to add; 
590      And as my Muse is a capricious elf, 
591   We'll put about, and try another tack 
592   With Juan, left half-kill'd some stanzas back. 


		75

593   Wounded and fetter'd, "cabin'd, cribb'd, confined," 
594      Some days and nights elapsed before that he 
595   Could altogether call the past to mind; 
596      And when he did, he found himself at sea, 
597   Sailing six knots an hour before the wind; 
598      The shores of Ilion lay beneath their lee--- 
599   Another time he might have liked to see 'em, 
600   But now was not much pleased with Cape Sigaeum. 


		76

601   There, on the green and village-cotted hill, is 
602      (Flank'd by the Hellespont, and by the sea) 
603   Entomb'd the bravest of the brave, Achilles; 
604      They say so---(Bryant says the contrary): 
605   And further downward, tall and towering still, is 
606      The tumulus---of whom? Heaven knows; 't may be 
607   Patroclus, Ajax, or Protesilaus; 
608   All heroes who if living still would slay us. 


		77

609   High barrows, without marble, or a name, 
610      A vast, untill'd, and mountain-skirted plain, 
611   And Ida in the distance, still the same, 
612      And old Scamander, (if 'tis he) remain; 
613   The situation seems still form'd for fame--- 
614      A hundred thousand men might fight again 
615   With ease; but where I sought for Ilion's walls, 
616   The quiet sheep feeds, and the tortoise crawls; 


		78

617   Troops of untended horses; here and there 
618      Some little hamlets, with new names uncouth; 
619   Some shepherds, (unlike Paris) led to stare 
620      A moment at the European youth 
621   Whom to the spot their school-boy feelings bear. 
622      A Turk, with beads in hand, and pipe in mouth, 
623   Extremely taken with his own religion, 
624   Are what I found there---but the devil a Phrygian. 


		79

625   Don Juan, here permitted to emerge 
626      From his dull cabin, found himself a slave; 
627   Forlorn, and gazing on the deep blue surge, 
628      O'ershadow'd there by many a hero's grave; 
629   Weak still with loss of blood, he scarce could urge 
630      A few brief questions; and the answers gave 
631   No very satisfactory information 
632   About his past or present situation. 


		80

633   He saw some fellow captives, who appear'd 
634      To be Italians, as they were in fact; 
635   From them, at least, their destiny he heard, 
636      Which was an odd one; a troop going to act 
637   In Sicily---all singers, duly rear'd 
638      In their vocation; had not been attack'd 
639   In sailing from Livorno by the pirate, 
640   But sold by the impresario at no high rate. 


		81

641   By one of these, the buffo of the party, 
642      Juan was told about their curious case; 
643   For although destined to the Turkish mart, he 
644      Still kept his spirits up---at least his face; 
645   The little fellow really look'd quite hearty, 
646      And bore him with some gaiety and grace, 
647   Showing a much more reconcil'd demeanour 
648   Than did the prima donna and the tenor. 


		82

649   In a few words he told their hapless story, 
650      Saying, "Our Machiavelian impresario, 
651   Making a signal off some promontory, 
652      Hail'd a strange brig; Corpo di Caio Mario! 
653   We were transferr'd on board her in a hurry, 
654      Without a single scudo of salario; 
655   But if the Sultan has a taste for song, 
656   We will revive our fortunes before long. 


		83

657   "The prima donna, though a little old 
658      And haggard with a dissipated life, 
659   And subject, when the house is thin, to cold, 
660      Has some good notes; and then the tenor's wife, 
661   With no great voice, is pleasing to behold; 
662      Last carnival she made a deal of strife 
663   By carrying off Count Cesare Cicogna 
664   From an old Roman princess at Bologna. 


		84

665   "And then there are the dancers; there's the Nini, 
666      With more than one profession gains by all; 
667   Then there's that laughing slut the Pelegrini, 
668      She too was fortunate last carnival, 
669   And made at least five hundred good zecchini, 
670      But spends so fast, she has not now a paul; 
671   And then there's the Grotesca---such a dancer! 
672   Where men have souls or bodies she must answer. 


		85

673   "As for the figuranti, they are like 
674      The rest of all that tribe; with here and there 
675   A pretty person, which perhaps may strike, 
676      The rest are hardly fitted for a fair; 
677   There's one, though tall and stiffer than a pike, 
678      Yet has a sentimental kind of air 
679   Which might go far, but she don't dance with vigour, 
680   The more's the pity, with her face and figure. 


		86

681   "As for the men, they are a middling set; 
682      The Musico is but a crack'd old basin, 
683   But being qualified in one way yet, 
684      May the seraglio do to set his face in, 
685   And as a servant some preferment get; 
686      His singing I no further trust can place in: 
687   From all the pope makes yearly 'twould perplex 
688   To find three perfect pipes of the third sex. 


		87

689   "The tenor's voice is spoilt by affectation, 
690      And for the bass, the beast can only bellow; 
691   In fact, he had no singing education, 
692      An ignorant, noteless, timeless, tuneless fellow, 
693   But being the prima donna's near relation, 
694      Who swore his voice was very rich and mellow, 
695   They hired him, though to hear him you'd believe 
696   An ass was practising recitative. 


		88

697   "'Twould not become myself to dwell upon 
698      My own merits, and though young---I see, Sir---you 
699   Have got a travell'd air, which shows you one 
700      To whom the opera is by no means new: 
701   You've heard of Raucocanti?---I'm the man; 
702      The time may come when you may hear me too; 
703   You was not last year at the fair of Lugo, 
704   But next, when I'm engaged to sing there---do go. 


		89

705   "Our baritone I almost had forgot, 
706      A pretty lad, but bursting with conceit; 
707   With graceful action, science not a jot, 
708      A voice of no great compass, and not sweet, 
709   He always is complaining of his lot, 
710      Forsooth, scarce fit for ballads in the street; 
711   In lovers' parts his passion more to breathe, 
712   Having no heart to show, he shows his teeth." 


		90

713   Here Raucocanti's eloquent recital 
714      Was interrupted by the pirate crew, 
715   Who came at stated moments to invite all 
716      The captives back to their sad births; each threw 
717   A rueful glance upon the waves (which bright all 
718      From the blue skies derived a double blue, 
719   Dancing all free and happy in the sun), 
720   And then went down the hatchway one by one. 


		91

721   They heard next day---that in the Dardanelles, 
722      Waiting for his sublimity's firman, 
723   The most imperative of sovereign spells, 
724      Which every body does without who can, 
725   More to secure them in their naval cells, 
726      Lady to lady, well as man to man, 
727   Were to be chain'd and lotted out per couple, 
728   For the slave market of Constantinople. 


		92

729   It seems when this allotment was made out, 
730      There chanced to be an odd male, and odd female, 
731   Who (after some discussion and some doubt, 
732      If the soprano might be deem'd to be male, 
733   They placed him o'er the women as a scout) 
734      Were link'd together, and it happen'd the male 
735   Was Juan, who,---an awkward thing at his age, 
736   Pair'd off with a Bacchante blooming visage. 


		93

737   With Raucocanti lucklessly was chain'd 
738      The tenor; these two hated with a hate 
739   Found only on the stage, and each more pain'd 
740      With this his tuneful neighbour than his fate; 
741   Sad strife arose, for they were so cross-grain'd, 
742      Instead of bearing up without debate, 
743   That each pull'd different ways with many an oath, 
744   "Arcades ambo," id est ---blackguards both. 


		94

745   Juan's companion was a Romagnole, 
746      But bred within the March of old Ancona, 
747   With eyes that look'd into the very soul 
748      (And other chief points of a "bella donna"), 
749   Bright---and as black and burning as a coal; 
750      And through her clear brunette complexion shone a 
751   Great wish to please---a most attractive dower, 
752   Especially when added to the power. 


		95

753   But all that power was wasted upon him, 
754      For sorrow o'er each sense held stern command; 
755   Her eye might flash on his, but found it dim; 
756      And though thus chain'd, as natural her hand 
757   Touch'd his, nor that---nor any handsome limb 
758      (And she had some not easy to withstand) 
759   Could stir his pulse, or make his faith feel brittle; 
760   Perhaps his recent wounds might help a little. 


		96

761   No matter; we should ne'er too much inquire, 
762      But facts are facts, no knight could be more true, 
763   And firmer faith no ladye-love desire; 
764      We will omit the proofs, save one or two, 
765   'Tis said no one in hand "can hold a fire 
766      By thought of frosty Caucasus," but few 
767   I really think; yet Juan's then ordeal 
768   Was more triumphant, and not much less real. 


		97

769   Here I might enter on a chaste description, 
770      Having withstood temptation in my youth, 
771   But hear that several people take exception 
772      At the first two books having too much truth; 
773   Therefore I'll make Don Juan leave the ship soon, 
774      Because the publisher declares, in sooth, 
775   Through needles' eyes it easier for the camel is 
776   To pass, than those two cantos into families. 


		98

777   'Tis all the same to me; I'm fond of yielding, 
778      And therefore leave them to the purer page 
779   Of Smollet, Prior, Ariosto, Fielding, 
780      Who say strange things for so correct an age; 
781   I once had a great alacrity in wielding 
782      My pen, and liked poetic war to wage, 
783   And recollect the time when all this cant 
784   Would have provoked remarks which now it shan't. 


		99

785   As boys love rows, my boyhood liked a squabble; 
786      But at this hour I wish to part in peace, 
787   Leaving such to the literary rabble, 
788      Whether my verse's fame be doom'd to cease, 
789   While the right hand which wrote it still is able, 
790      Or of some centuries to take a lease; 
791   The grass upon my grave will grow as long, 
792   And sigh to midnight winds, but not to song. 


		100

793   Of poets who come down to us through distance 
794      Of time and tongues, the foster-babes of Fame, 
795   Life seems the smallest portion of existence; 
796      Where twenty ages gather o'er a name, 
797   'Tis as a snowball which derives assistance 
798      From every flake, and yet rolls on the same, 
799   Even till an iceberg it may chance to grow, 
800   But after all 'tis nothing but cold snow. 


		101

801   And so great names are nothing more than nominal, 
802      And love of glory's but an airy lust, 
803   Too often in its fury overcoming all 
804      Who would as 'twere identify their dust 
805   From out the wide destruction, which, entombing all, 
806      Leaves nothing till the coming of the just--- 
807   Save change; I've stood upon Achilles' tomb, 
808   And heard Troy doubted; time will doubt of Rome. 


		102

809   The very generations of the dead 
810      Are swept away, and tomb inherits tomb, 
811   Until the memory of an age is fled, 
812      And, buried, sinks beneath its offspring's doom: 
813   Where are the epitaphs our fathers read? 
814      Save a few glean'd from the sepulchral gloom 
815   Which once-named myriads nameless lie beneath, 
816   And lose their own in universal death. 


		103

817   I canter by the spot each afternoon 
818      Where perish'd in his fame the hero-boy, 
819   Who lived too long for men, but died too soon 
820      For human vanity, the young De Foix! 
821   A broken pillar, not uncouthly hewn, 
822      But which neglect is hastening to destroy, 
823   Records Ravenna's carnage on its face, 
824   While weeds and ordure rankle round the base. 


		104

825   I pass each day where Dante's bones are laid: 
826      A little cupola, more neat than solemn, 
827   Protects his dust, but reverence here is paid 
828      To the bard's tomb, and not the warrior's column: 
829   The time must come, when both alike decay'd, 
830      The chieftain's trophy, and the poet's volume, 
831   Will sink where lie the songs and wars of earth, 
832   Before Pelides' death, or Homer's birth. 


		105

833   With human blood that column was cemented, 
834      With human filth that column is defiled, 
835   As if the peasant's coarse contempt were vented 
836      To show his loathing of the spot he soil'd; 
837   Thus is the trophy used, and thus lamented 
838      Should ever be those blood-hounds, from whose wild 
839   Instinct of gore and glory earth has known 
840   Those sufferings Dante saw in hell alone. 


		106

841   Yet there will still be bards; though fame is smoke, 
842      Its fumes are frankincense to human thought; 
843   And the unquiet feelings, which first woke 
844      Song in the world, will seek what then they sought; 
845   As on the beach the waves at last are broke, 
846      Thus to their extreme verge the passions brought 
847   Dash into poetry, which is but passion, 
848   Or at least was so ere it grew a fashion. 


		107

849   If in the course of such a life as was 
850      At once adventurous and contemplative, 
851   Men who partake all passions as they pass, 
852      Acquire the deep and bitter power to give 
853   Their images again as in a glass, 
854      And in such colours that they seem to live; 
855   You may do right forbidding them to show 'em, 
856   But spoil (I think) a very pretty poem. 


		108

857   Oh! ye, who make the fortunes of all books! 
858      Benign ceruleans of the second sex! 
859   Who advertise new poems by your looks, 
860      Your "imprimatur" will ye not annex? 
861   What, must I go to the oblivious cooks? 
862      Those Cornish plunderers of Parnassian wrecks? 
863   Ah! must I then the only minstrel be, 
864   Proscribed from tasting your Castalian tea! 


		109

865   What, can I prove "a lion" then no more? 
866      A ball-room bard, a foolscap, hot-press darling? 
867   To bear the compliments of many a bore, 
868      And sigh, "I can't get out," like Yorick's starling; 
869   Why then I'll swear, as poet Wordy swore, 
870      (Because the world won't read him, always snarling) 
871   That taste is gone, that fame is but a lottery, 
872   Drawn by the blue-coat misses of a coterie. 


		110

873   Oh! "darkly, deeply, beautifully blue," 
874      As some one somewhere sings about the sky, 
875   And I, ye learned ladies, say of you; 
876      They say your stockings are so (Heaven knows why, 
877   I have examined few pair of that hue); 
878      Blue as the garters which serenely lie 
879   Round the Patrician left-legs, which adorn 
880   The festal midnight, and the levee morn. 


		111

881   Yet some of you are most seraphic creatures--- 
882      But times are alter'd since, a rhyming lover, 
883   You read my stanzas, and I read your features: 
884      And---but no matter, all those things are over; 
885   Still I have no dislike to learned natures, 
886      For sometimes such a world of virtues cover; 
887   I know one woman of that purple school, 
888   The loveliest, chastest, best, but---quite a fool. 


		112

889   Humboldt, "the first of travellers," but not 
890      The last, if late accounts be accurate, 
891   Invented, by some name I have forgot, 
892      As well as the sublime discovery's date, 
893   An airy instrument, with which he sought 
894      To ascertain the atmospheric state, 
895   By measuring "the intensity of blue ": 
896   Oh, Lady Daphne! let me measure you! 


		113

897   But to the narrative: the vessel bound 
898      With slaves to sell off in the capital, 
899   After the usual process, might be found 
900      At anchor under the seraglio wall; 
901   Her cargo, from the plague being safe and sound, 
902      Were landed in the market, one and all, 
903   And there with Georgians, Russians, and Circassians, 
904   Bought up for different purposes and passions. 


		114

905   Some went off dearly; fifteen hundred dollars 
906      For one Circassian, a sweet girl, were given, 
907   Warranted virgin; beauty's brightest colours 
908      Had deck'd her out in all the hues of heaven: 
909   Her sale sent home some disappointed bawlers, 
910      Who bade on till the hundreds reach'd eleven; 
911   But when the offer went beyond, they knew 
912   'Twas for the Sultan, and at once withdrew. 


		115

913   Twelve negresses from Nubia brought a price 
914      Which the West Indian market scarce would bring; 
915   Though Wilberforce, at last, has made it twice 
916      What 'twas ere Abolition; and the thing 
917   Need not seem very wonderful, for vice 
918      Is always much more splendid than a king: 
919   The virtues, even the most exalted, Charity, 
920   Are saving---vice spares nothing for a rarity. 


		116

921   But for the destiny of this young troop, 
922      How some were bought by pachas, some by Jews, 
923   How some to burdens were obliged to stoop, 
924      And others rose to the command of crews 
925   As renegadoes; while in hapless group, 
926      Hoping no very old vizier might choose, 
927   The females stood, as one by one they pick'd 'em, 
928   To make a mistress, or fourth wife, or victim: 


		117

929   All this must be reserved for further song; 
930      Also our hero's lot, howe'er unpleasant, 
931   (Because this Canto has become too long) 
932      Must be postponed discreetly for the present; 
933   I'm sensible redundancy is wrong, 
934      But could not for the muse of me put less in't: 
935   And now delay the progress of Don Juan, 
936   Till what is call'd in Ossian the fifth Duan.