Don Juan 08-001 ~ 005

Don Juan 08-001
Canto the Eighth


Oh blood and thunder! and oh blood and wounds!
    These are but vulgar oaths, as you may deem,
Too gentle reader! and most shocking sounds:
    And so they are; yet thus is Glory's dream
Unriddled, and as my true Muse expounds
    At present such things, since they are her theme,
So be they her inspirers! Call them Mars,
Bellona, what you will -- they mean but wars.

Don Juan 08-002
Canto the Eighth


All was prepared -- the fire, the sword, the men
    To wield them in their terrible array.
The army, like a lion from his den,
    March'd forth with nerve and sinews bent to slay, --
A human Hydra, issuing from its fen
    To breathe destruction on its winding way,
Whose heads were heroes, which cut off in vain
Immediately in others grew again.


Don Juan 08-004
Canto the Eighth


History can only take things in the gross;
    But could we know them in detail, perchance
In balancing the profit and the loss,
    War's merit it by no means might enhance,
To waste so much gold for a little dross,
    As hath been done, mere conquest to advance.
The drying up a single tear has more
Of honest fame, than shedding seas of gore.

Don Juan 08-004
Canto the Eighth


And why? -- because it brings self-approbation;
    Whereas the other, after all its glare,
Shouts, bridges, arches, pensions from a nation,
    Which (it may be) has not much left to spare,
A higher title, or a loftier station,
    Though they may make Corruption gape or stare,
Yet, in the end, except in Freedom's battles,
Are nothing but a child of Murder's rattles.

Don Juan 08-005
Canto the Eighth


And such they are -- and such they will be found:
    Not so Leonidas and Washington,
Whose every battle-field is holy ground,
    Which breathes of nations saved, not worlds undone.
How sweetly on the ear such echoes sound!
    While the mere victor's may appal or stun
The servile and the vain, such names will be
A watchword till the future shall be free.

George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)