Don Juan 05-021
Canto the Fifth

"You take things coolly, sir," said Juan. "Why,"
     Replied the other, "what can a man do?
There still are many rainbows in your sky,
     But mine have vanish'd. All, when life is new,
Commence with feelings warm, and prospects high;
     But time strips our illusions of their hue,
And one by one in turn, some grand mistake
Casts off its bright skin yearly like the snake.
Don Juan 05-022

"'T is true, it gets another bright and fresh,
     Or fresher, brighter; but the year gone through,
This skin must go the way, too, of all flesh,
     Or sometimes only wear a week or two; --
Love's the first net which spreads its deadly mesh;
     Ambition, Avarice, Vengeance, Glory, glue
The glittering lime-twigs of our latter days,
Where still we flutter on for pence or praise."
Don Juan 05-023

"All this is very fine, and may be true,"
     Said Juan; "but I really don't see how
It betters present times with me or you."
     "No?" quoth the other; "yet you will allow
By setting things in their right point of view,
     Knowledge, at least, is gain'd; for instance, now,
We know what slavery is, and our disasters
May teach us better to behave when masters."
Don Juan 05-024

"Would we were masters now, if but to try
     Their present lessons on our Pagan friends here,"
Said Juan, -- swallowing a heart-burning sigh:
     "Heaven help the scholar whom his fortune sends here!"
"Perhaps we shall be one day, by and by,"
     Rejoin'd the other, when our bad luck mends here;
"Meantime (yon old black eunuch seems to eye us)
I wish to G-d that somebody would buy us.
Don Juan 05-025

"But after all, what is our present state?
     'T is bad, and may be better -- all men's lot:
Most men are slaves, none more so than the great,
     To their own whims and passions, and what not;
Society itself, which should create
     Kindness, destroys what little we had got:
To feel for none is the true social art
Of the world's stoics -- men without a heart."

George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)