Don Juan
by George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824)


1   Bob Southey! You're a poet---Poet-laureate, 
2      And representative of all the race, 
3   Although 'tis true that you turn'd out a Tory at 
4      Last,---yours has lately been a common case,--- 
5   And now, my Epic Renegade! what are ye at? 
6      With all the Lakers, in and out of place? 
7   A nest of tuneful persons, to my eye 
8   Like "four and twenty Blackbirds in a pye; 


9   "Which pye being open'd they began to sing" 
10      (This old song and new simile holds good), 
11   "A dainty dish to set before the King," 
12      Or Regent, who admires such kind of food;--- 
13   And Coleridge, too, has lately taken wing, 
14      But like a hawk encumber'd with his hood,--- 
15   Explaining metaphysics to the nation--- 
16   I wish he would explain his Explanation. 


17   You, Bob! are rather insolent, you know, 
18      At being disappointed in your wish 
19   To supersede all warblers here below, 
20      And be the only Blackbird in the dish; 
21   And then you overstrain yourself, or so, 
22      And tumble downward like the flying fish 
23   Gasping on deck, because you soar too high, Bob, 
24   And fall, for lack of moisture quite a-dry, Bob! 


25   And Wordsworth, in a rather long "Excursion" 
26      (I think the quarto holds five hundred pages), 
27   Has given a sample from the vasty version 
28      Of his new system to perplex the sages; 
29   'Tis poetry---at least by his assertion, 
30      And may appear so when the dog-star rages--- 
31   And he who understands it would be able 
32   To add a story to the Tower of Babel. 


33   You---Gentlemen! by dint of long seclusion 
34      From better company, have kept your own 
35   At Keswick, and, through still continued fusion 
36      Of one another's minds, at last have grown 
37   To deem as a most logical conclusion, 
38      That Poesy has wreaths for you alone: 
39   There is a narrowness in such a notion, 
40   Which makes me wish you'd change your lakes for ocean. 


41   I would not imitate the petty thought, 
42      Nor coin my self-love to so base a vice, 
43   For all the glory your conversion brought, 
44      Since gold alone should not have been its price. 
45   You have your salary; was't for that you wrought? 
46      And Wordsworth has his place in the Excise. 
47   You're shabby fellows---true---but poets still, 
48   And duly seated on the immortal hill. 


49   Your bays may hide the baldness of your brows--- 
50      Perhaps some virtuous blushes;---let them go--- 
51   To you I envy neither fruit nor boughs--- 
52      And for the fame you would engross below, 
53   The field is universal, and allows 
54      Scope to all such as feel the inherent glow: 
55   Scott, Rogers, Campbell, Moore, and Crabbe, will try 
56   'Gainst you the question with posterity. 


57   For me, who, wandering with pedestrian Muses, 
58      Contend not with you on the winged steed, 
59   I wish your fate may yield ye, when she chooses, 
60      The fame you envy, and the skill you need; 
61   And recollect a poet nothing loses 
62      In giving to his brethren their full meed 
63   Of merit, and complaint of present days 
64   Is not the certain path to future praise. 


65   He that reserves his laurels for posterity 
66      (Who does not often claim the bright reversion) 
67   Has generally no great crop to spare it, he 
68      Being only injured by his own assertion; 
69   And although here and there some glorious rarity 
70      Arise like Titan from the sea's immersion, 
71   The major part of such appellants go 
72   To---God knows where---for no one else can know. 


73   If, fallen in evil days on evil tongues, 
74      Milton appeal'd to the Avenger, Time, 
75   If Time, the Avenger, execrates his wrongs, 
76      And makes the word "Miltonic" mean " sublime ," 
77   He deign'd not to belie his soul in songs, 
78      Nor turn his very talent to a crime; 
79   He did not loathe the Sire to laud the Son, 
80   But closed the tyrant-hater he begun. 


81   Think'st thou, could he---the blind Old Man---arise 
82      Like Samuel from the grave, to freeze once more 
83   The blood of monarchs with his prophecies, 
84      Or be alive again---again all hoar 
85   With time and trials, and those helpless eyes, 
86      And heartless daughters---worn---and pale---and poor; 
87   Would he adore a sultan? he obey 
88   The intellectual eunuch Castlereagh? 


89   Cold-blooded, smooth-faced, placid miscreant! 
90      Dabbling its sleek young hands in Erin's gore, 
91   And thus for wider carnage taught to pant, 
92      Transferr'd to gorge upon a sister shore, 
93   The vulgarest tool that Tyranny could want, 
94      With just enough of talent, and no more, 
95   To lengthen fetters by another fix'd, 
96   And offer poison long already mix'd. 


97   An orator of such set trash of phrase 
98      Ineffably---legitimately vile, 
99   That even its grossest flatterers dare not praise, 
100      Nor foes---all nations---condescend to smile,--- 
101   Not even a sprightly blunder's spark can blaze 
102      From that Ixion grindstone's ceaseless toil, 
103   That turns and turns to give the world a notion 
104   Of endless torments and perpetual motion. 


105   A bungler even in its disgusting trade, 
106      And botching, patching, leaving still behind 
107   Something of which its masters are afraid, 
108      States to be curb'd, and thoughts to be confined, 
109   Conspiracy or Congress to be made--- 
110      Cobbling at manacles for all mankind--- 
111   A tinkering slave-maker, who mends old chains, 
112   With God and man's abhorrence for its gains. 


113   If we may judge of matter by the mind, 
114      Emasculated to the marrow It 
115   Hath but two objects, how to serve, and bind, 
116      Deeming the chain it wears even men may fit, 
117   Eutropius of its many masters,---blind 
118      To worth as freedom, wisdom as to wit, 
119   Fearless---because no feeling dwells in ice, 
120   Its very courage stagnates to a vice. 


121   Where shall I turn me not to view its bonds, 
122      For I will never feel them;---Italy! 
123   Thy late reviving Roman soul desponds 
124      Beneath the lie this State-thing breathed o'er thee--- 
125   Thy clanking chain, and Erin's yet green wounds, 
126      Have voices---tongues to cry aloud for me. 
127   Europe has slaves---allies---kings---armies still, 
128   And Southey lives to sing them very ill. 


129   Meantime---Sir Laureate---I proceed to dedicate, 
130      In honest simple verse, this song to you. 
131   And, if in flattering strains I do not predicate, 
132      'Tis that I still retain my "buff and blue"; 
133   My politics as yet are all to educate: 
134      Apostasy's so fashionable, too, 
135   To keep one creed's a task grown quite Herculean; 
136   Is it not so, my Tory, ultra-Julian?