Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto I

And if she met him, though she smiled no more,
  She look'd a sadness sweeter than her smile,
As if her heart had deeper thoughts in store
  She must not own, but cherish'd more the while
For that compression in its burning core;
  Even innocence itself has many a wile,
And will not dare to trust itself with truth,
And love is taught hypocrisy from youth.

But passion most dissembles, yet betrays
  Even by its darkness; as the blackest sky
Foretells the heaviest tempest, it displays
  Its workings through the vainly guarded eye,
And in whatever aspect it arrays
  Itself, 't is still the same hypocrisy;
Coldness or anger, even disdain or hate,
Are masks it often wears, and still too late.

Then there were sighs, the deeper for suppression,
  And stolen glances, sweeter for the theft,
And burning blushes, though for no transgression,
  Tremblings when met, and restlessness when left;
All these are little preludes to possession,
  Of which young passion cannot be bereft,
And merely tend to show how greatly love is
Embarrass'd at first starting with a novice.

Poor Julia's heart was in an awkward state;
  She felt it going, and resolved to make
The noblest efforts for herself and mate,
  For honour's, pride's, religion's, virtue's sake;
Her resolutions were most truly great,
  And almost might have made a Tarquin quake:
She pray'd the Virgin Mary for her grace,
As being the best judge of a lady's case.

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 —
  Again it opens, it can be no other,
'T is surely Juan now — No! I 'm afraid
That night the Virgin was no further pray'd.

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.

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, 't is but denial:
I recommend young ladies to make trial.

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.

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, 't is quite a crime,
But not my fault — I tell them all in time.

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.

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.

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

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

After Don Juan escapes from Constantinople, he is embroiled in the battle of