Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto II

He had a bed of furs, and a pelisse,
  For Haidee stripped her sables off to make
His couch; and, that he might be more at ease,
  And warm, in case by chance he should awake,
They also gave a petticoat apiece,
  She and her maid — and promised by daybreak
To pay him a fresh visit, with a dish
For breakfast, of eggs, coffee, bread, and fish.

And thus they left him to his lone repose:
  Juan slept like a top, or like the dead,
Who sleep at last, perhaps (God only knows),
  Just for the present; and in his lull'd head
Not even a vision of his former woes
  Throbb'd in accursed dreams, which sometimes spread
Unwelcome visions of our former years,
Till the eye, cheated, opens thick with tears.

Young Juan slept all dreamless: — but the maid,
  Who smooth'd his pillow, as she left the den
Look'd back upon him, and a moment stay'd,
  And turn'd, believing that he call'd again.
He slumber'd; yet she thought, at least she said
  (The heart will slip, even as the tongue and pen),
He had pronounced her name — but she forgot
That at this moment Juan knew it not.

And pensive to her father's house she went,
  Enjoining silence strict to Zoe, who
Better than her knew what, in fact, she meant,
  She being wiser by a year or two:
A year or two 's an age when rightly spent,
  And Zoe spent hers, as most women do,
In gaining all that useful sort of knowledge
Which is acquired in Nature's good old college.

The morn broke, and found Juan slumbering still
  Fast in his cave, and nothing clash'd upon
His rest; the rushing of the neighbouring rill,
  And the young beams of the excluded sun,
Troubled him not, and he might sleep his fill;
  And need he had of slumber yet, for none
Had suffer'd more — his hardships were comparative
To those related in my grand-dad's 'Narrative.'

Not so Haidee: she sadly toss'd and tumbled,
  And started from her sleep, and, turning o'er
Dream'd of a thousand wrecks, o'er which she stumbled,
  And handsome corpses strew'd upon the shore;
And woke her maid so early that she grumbled,
  And call'd her father's old slaves up, who swore
In several oaths — Armenian, Turk, and Greek —
They knew not what to think of such a freak.

But up she got, and up she made them get,
  With some pretence about the sun, that makes
Sweet skies just when he rises, or is set;
  And 't is, no doubt, a sight to see when breaks
Bright Phoebus, while the mountains still are wet
  With mist, and every bird with him awakes,
And night is flung off like a mourning suit
Worn for a husband, — or some other brute.

I say, the sun is a most glorious sight,
  I 've seen him rise full oft, indeed of late
I have sat up on purpose all the night,
  Which hastens, as physicians say, one's fate;
And so all ye, who would be in the right
  In health and purse, begin your day to date
From daybreak, and when coffin'd at fourscore,
Engrave upon the plate, you rose at four.

And Haidee met the morning face to face;
  Her own was freshest, though a feverish flush
Had dyed it with the headlong blood, whose race
  From heart to cheek is curb'd into a blush,
Like to a torrent which a mountain's base,
  That overpowers some Alpine river's rush,
Checks to a lake, whose waves in circles spread;
Or the Red Sea — but the sea is not red.

And down the cliff the island virgin came,
  And near the cave her quick light footsteps drew,
While the sun smiled on her with his first flame,
  And young Aurora kiss'd her lips with dew,
Taking her for a sister; just the same
  Mistake you would have made on seeing the two,
Although the mortal, quite as fresh and fair,
Had all the advantage, too, of not being air.

And when into the cavern Haidee stepp'd
  All timidly, yet rapidly, she saw
That like an infant Juan sweetly slept;
  And then she stopp'd, and stood as if in awe
(For sleep is awful), and on tiptoe crept
  And wrapt him closer, lest the air, too raw,
Should reach his blood, then o'er him still as death
Bent with hush'd lips, that drank his scarce-drawn breath.

And thus like to an angel o'er the dying
  Who die in righteousness, she lean'd; and there
All tranquilly the shipwreck'd boy was lying,
  As o'er him the calm and stirless air:
But Zoe the meantime some eggs was frying,
  Since, after all, no doubt the youthful pair
Must breakfast — and betimes, lest they should ask it,
She drew out her provision from the basket.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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