DON JUAN, by Lord Byron: Canto I

Canto I, st. 76 - 109

LXXVI She vow'd she never would see Juan more, And next day paid a visit to his mother, And look'd extremely at the opening door, Which, by the Virgin's grace let in another; Grateful she was, and yet a little sore-- 'Tis surely Juan now--No! I'm afraid That night the Virgin was no further pray'd.

LXXVII She now determined that a virtuous woman Should rather face and overcome temptation, That flight was base and dastardly, and no man Should ever give her heart the least sensation; That is to say, a thought beyond the common Preference, that we must feel upon occasion, For people who are pleasanter than others, But then they only seem so many brothers.

LXXVIII And even if by chance--and who can tell? The devil's so very sly--she should discover That all within was not so very well, And, if still free, that such or such a lover Might please perhaps, a virtuous wife can quell Such thoughts, and be the better when they're over; And if the man should ask, 'tis but denial: I recommend young ladies to make trial.

LXXIX And then there are such things as love divine, Bright and immaculate, unmix'd and pure, Such as the angels think so very fine, And matrons, who would be no less secure, Platonic, perfect, 'just such love as mine': Thus Julia said--and thought so, to be sure; And so I'd have her think, were I the man On whom her reveries celestial ran.

LXXX Such love is innocent, and may exist Between young persons without any danger: A hand may first, and then a lip be kist; For my part, to such doings I'm a stranger, But hear these freedoms form the utmost list Of all o er which such love may be a ranger: If people go beyond, 'tis quite a crime. But not my fault--I tell them all in time.

LXXXI Love, then, but love within its proper limits Was Julia's innocent determination In young Don Juan's favour, and to him its Exertion might be useful on occasion; And, lighted at too pure a shrine to dim its Ethereal lustre, with what sweet persuasion He might be taught, by love and her together-- I really don't know what, nor Julia either.

LXXXII Fraught with this fine intention, and well fenced In mail of proof--her purity of soul, She, for the future of her strength convinced, And that her honour was a rock, or mole, Exceeding sagely from that hour dispensed With any kind of troublesome control; But whether Julia to the task was equal Is that which must be mention'd in the sequel.

LXXXIII Her plan she deem'd both innocent and feasible, And, surely, with a stripling of sixteen Not scand's fangs could fix on much that's seizable, Or if they did so, satified to mean Nothing but what was good, her breast was peaceable: A quite conscience makes one so serene! Christians have burnt each other, quite persuaded That all the Apostles would have done as they did.

LXXXIV And if in the mean time her husband died, But Heaven forbid that such a thought should cross Her brain, though in a dream! (and then she sigh'd) Never coud she support that common loss; But just suppose that moment should betide, I only say suppose it--inter nos. (This should be entre nous, for Julia thought In French, but then the rhyme would go for nought.

LXXXV I only say, suppose this supposition: Juan being then grown up to man's estate Would fully suit a widow of condition, Even seven years hence it would not be too late; And in the interim (to pursue this vision) The mischief, after all, could not be great, For he would learn the rudiments of love, I mean the seraph way of those above.

LXXXVI So much for Julia. Now we'll turn to Juan, Poor little fellow! he had no idea Of his own case, and never hit the true one; In feelings quick as Ovid's Miss Medea, He puzzled over what he found a new one, But not as yet imagined it could be a Thing quite in course, and not at all alarming, Which, with a little patience, might grow charming.

LXXXVII Silent and pensive, idle, restless, slow, His home deserted for the lonely wood, Tormented with a wound he could not know, His, like all deep grief, plunged in solitude: I'm fond myself of solitude or so, But the, I beg it may be understood, By solitude I mean a Sultan's, not A hermit's, with a haram for a grot.

LXXXVIII 'Oh Love! in such a wilderness as this, Where transport and security entwine, Here is the empire of thy perfect bliss, And here thou art a god indeed divine.' The bard I quote from does not sing amiss, With the exception of the second line, For that same twining 'transport and security' Are twisted to a phrase of some obscurity.

LXXXIX The poet meant, no doubt, and thus appeals To the good sense and senses of mankind, The very thing which everybody feels As all have found on trial, or may find, That no one likes to be disturb'd at meals Or love.--I won't say more about 'entwined' Or 'transport,' as we knew all that before, But beg 'Security' will bolt the door.

XC Young Juan wander'd by the glassy brooks Thinking unutterable things; he threw Himself at length within the leafy nooks Where the wild branch of the cork forest grew; There poets find materials for their books, And every now and then we read them through, So that their plan and prosody are eligible, Unless, like Wordsworth, they prove unintelligible.

XCI He, Juan (and not Wordsworth), so pursued His self-communion with his own high soul, Until his might heart, in its great mood, Had mitigated part, though not the whole Of its disease; he did the best he could With things not very subject to control And turn'd, without perceiving his condition, Like Coleridge, into a metaphysician.

XCII He thought about himself, and the whole earth, Of man the wonderful, and of the stars, And how the deuce they ever could have birth; And then he thought of earthquakes, and of wars, How may miles the moon might have in girth, Of air-balloons, and of the many bars To perfect knowledge of the boundless skies;-- And then he thought of Donna Julia's eyes.

XCIII In thoughts like these true wisdom may discern Longings sublime, and aspirations high, Which some are born with, but the most part learn To plague themselves withal, they know not why: 'Twas strange that one so young should thus concern His brain about the action of the sky; If you think 'twas philosophy that this did, I can't help thinking puberty assisted.

XCIV He pored upon the leaves, and on the flowers, And heard a voice in all the winds; and then He thought of wood-nymphs and immortal bowers, And how the goddesses came down to men: He missd the pathway, he forgot the hours, And when he look'd upon his watch again, He found how much old Time had been a winner-- He also found that he had lost his dinner.

XCV Sometimes he turn'd to gaze upon his book Boscan, or Garcilasso;--by the wind Even as the page is rustled while we look So by the poesy of his own mind Over the mystic leaf his soul was shook, As if 'twere one whereon magicians bind Their spells, and give them to the passing gale According to some good old woman's tale.

XCVI Thus would he while his lonely hours away Dissatisfied, nor knowing what he wanted; Nor glowing reverie, nor poet's lay, Could yield his spirit that for which it panted, A bosom whereon he his head might lay, And hear the heart beat with the love it granted, With----several other things, which I forget, Or which, at least, I need not mention yet.

XCVII Those onely walks, and lengthening reveries, Could not escape the gnelt Julia's eyes; She saw that Juan was not at his ease; But that which chiefly may, and must surprise, Is, that the Donna Inez did not tease Her only son with question or surmise; Whether it was she did not see, or would not, Or, like all very clever people, could not.

XCVIII This may seem strange, but yet 'tis very common; For instance--gentlemen, whose ladies take Leave to o'erstep the written rights of woman, And break the--Which commandment is't they break? (I have forgot the number, and think no man Should rashly quote, for fear of a mistake.) I say, when these same gentlemen are jealous, They make some blunder, which their ladies tell us.

XCIX A real husband always is supicious, But still no less suspects in the wrong place, Jealous of some one who had no such wishes, Or pandering blindly to his own disgrace, By harbouring some dear friend extremely vicious; The last indeed's infallibly the case: And when the spouse and friend are gone off wholly, He wonders at their vice, and not his folly.

C Thus parents also are at times shortsighted; Though watchful as the lynx, they ne'er discover, The while the wicked world beholds delighted, Young Hopeful's mistress, or Miss Fanny's lover, Till some confounded escapade has blighted The plan of twenty years, and all is over; And then the mother cries, the father swears, And wonders why the devil he got heirs.

CI But Inez was so anxious, and so clear Of sight, that I must think, on this occasion, She had some other motive much more near For leaving Juan to this new temptation, But what that motive was, I shan't say here; Perhaps to finish Juan's education, Perhaps to open Don Alfonso's eyes, In case he thought his wife too great a prize.

CII It was upon a day, a summer's day;-- Summer's indeed a very dangerous season, Ans so is spring about the end of May; The sun, no doubt, is the prevailing reason; But whatsoe'er the cause is, one may say, And stand convicted of more truth than treason, That there are months which nature grows more merry in,-- March has its hares, and May must have its heroine.

CIII 'Twas on a summer's day--the sixth of June:-- I like to be particular in dates, Not only of the age, and year, but moon; They are a sort of post-house, where the Fates Change horses, making history change its tune, Then spur away o'er empires and o'er states, Leaving at last not much besides chronology, Excepting the post-obits of theology.

CIV 'Twas on the sixth of June, about the hour Of half-past six--perhaps still nearer seven-- When Julia sate within as pretty a bower As e'er held houri in that heanthish heaven Described by Mahomet, and Anacreon Moore, To whom the lyre and laurels have been given, With all the trophies of triumphant song-- He won them well, and may he wear them long!

CV She sate, but not alone; I know not well How this same interview had taken place, And ever if I knew, I should not tell-- People should hold their tongues in any case; No matter how or why the thing befell, But there were she and Juan, fact to face-- When two such faces are so, 'twould be wise, But very difficult, to shut their eyes.

CVI How beautiful she look'd! her conscious heart Glow'd in her cheek, and yet she felt no wrong, Oh Love! how perfect is thy mystic art, Strengthening the weak, and trampling on the strong! How self-deceitful is the sagest part Of mortals whom thy lure hath led along!-- The precipice she stood on was immense, So was her creed in her own innocence.

CVII She thought of her own strength, and Juan's youth, And of the folly of all prudish fears, Victorious virtue, and domestic truth, And then of Don Alfonso's fifty years: I wish these last had not occurr'd, in sooth, Because that number rarely much endears, And through all climes, the snowy and the sunny Sounds ill in love, whate'er it may in money.

CVIII When people say, 'I've told you fifty times, They mean to scold, and very often do; When poets say, 'I've written fifty rhymes,' They make you dread that they'll recite them too; In gangs of fifty, thieves commit their crimes; At fifty love for love is rare, 'tis true, But then, no doubt, it equally as true is, A good deal may be bought for fifty Louis.

CIX Jula had honour, virtue, truth, and love For Don Alfonso; and she inly swore, By all the vows below to powers above, She never would disgrace the ring she wore, Nor leave a wish which wisdom might reprove; And while she ponder'd this, besides much more, One hand on Juan's careless was thrown, Quite by mistake--she thought it was her own;

Don Juan, Canto I (1819), Byron

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