Don Juan 08-021 ~ 025

Don Juan 08-021
Canto the Eighth

Though 't was Don Juan's first of fields, and though
    The nightly muster and the silent march
In the chill dark, when courage does not glow
    So much as under a triumphal arch,
Perhaps might make him shiver, yawn, or throw
    A glance on the dull clouds (as thick as starch,
Which stiffen'd heaven) as if he wish'd for day; --
Yet for all this he did not run away.


Don Juan 08-022
Canto the Eighth

Indeed he could not. But what if he had?
    There have been and are heroes who begun
With something not much better, or as bad:
    Frederic the Great from Molwitz deign'd to run,
For the first and last time; for, like a pad,
    Or hawk, or bride, most mortals after one
Warm bout are broken into their new tricks,
And fight like fiends for pay or politics.


Don Juan 08-023
Canto the Eighth

He was what Erin calls, in her sublime
    Old Erse or Irish, or it may be Punic
(The antiquarians who can settle time,
    Which settles all things, Roman, Greek, or Runic,
Swear that Pat's language sprung from the same clime
    With Hannibal, and wears the Tyrian tunic
Of Dido's alphabet; and this is rational
As any other notion, and not national); --


Don Juan 08-024
Canto the Eighth

But Juan was quite "a broth of a boy,"
    A thing of impulse and a child of song;
Now swimming in the sentiment of joy,
    Or the sensation (if that phrase seem wrong),
And afterward, if he must needs destroy,
    In such good company as always throng
To battles, sieges, and that kind of pleasure,
No less delighted to employ his leisure;


Don Juan 08-025
Canto the Eighth

But always without malice: if he warr'd
    Or loved, it was with what we call "the best
Intentions," which form all mankind's trump card,
    To be produced when brought up to the test.
The statesman, hero, harlot, lawyer -- ward
    Off each attack, when people are in quest
Of their designs, by saying they meant well;
'T is pity "that such meaning should pave hell."

George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)