Don Juan 08-036 ~ 040

Don Juan 08-036
Canto the Eighth

And so, when all his corps were dead or dying,
    Except Don Juan, a mere novice, whose
More virgin valour never dreamt of flying
    From ignorance of danger, which indues
Its votaries, like innocence relying
    On its own strength, with careless nerves and thews, --
Johnson retired a little, just to rally
Those who catch cold in "shadows of Death's valley."


Don Juan 08-037
Canto the Eighth

And there, a little shelter'd from the shot,
    Which rain'd from bastion, battery, parapet,
Rampart, wall, casement, house, -- for there was not
    In this extensive city, sore beset
By Christian soldiery, a single spot
    Which did not combat like the devil, as yet,
He found a number of Chasseurs, all scatter'd
By the resistance of the chase they batter'd.


Don Juan 08-038
Canto the Eighth

And these he call'd on; and, what's strange, they came
    Unto his call, unlike "the spirits from
The vasty deep," to whom you may exclaim,
    Says Hotspur, long ere they will leave their home.
Their reasons were uncertainty, or shame
    At shrinking from a bullet or a bomb,
And that odd impulse, which in wars or creeds
Makes men, like cattle, follow him who leads.


Don Juan 08-039
Canto the Eighth

By Jove! he was a noble fellow, Johnson,
    And though his name, than Ajax or Achilles,
Sounds less harmonious, underneath the sun soon
    We shall not see his likeness: he could kill his
Man quite as quietly as blows the monsoon
    Her steady breath (which some months the same still is):
Seldom he varied feature, hue, or muscle,
And could be very busy without bustle;


Don Juan 08-040
Canto the Eighth

And therefore, when he ran away, he did so
    Upon reflection, knowing that behind
He would find others who would fain be rid so
    Of idle apprehensions, which like wind
Trouble heroic stomachs. Though their lids so
    Oft are soon closed, all heroes are not blind,
But when they light upon immediate death,
Retire a little, merely to take breath.

George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)