Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto III


Hail, Muse! et cetera. — We left Juan sleeping,
  Pillow'd upon a fair and happy breast,
And watch'd by eyes that never yet knew weeping,
  And loved by a young heart, too deeply blest
To feel the poison through her spirit creeping,
  Or know who rested there, a foe to rest,
Had soil'd the current of her sinless years,
And turn'd her pure heart's purest blood to tears!

O, Love! what is it in this world of ours
  Which makes it fatal to be loved? Ah, why
With cypress branches hast thou Wreathed thy bowers,
  And made thy best interpreter a sigh?
As those who dote on odours pluck the flowers,
  And place them on their breast — but place to die —
Thus the frail beings we would fondly cherish
Are laid within our bosoms but to perish.

In her first passion woman loves her lover,
  In all the others all she loves is love,
Which grows a habit she can ne'er get over,
  And fits her loosely — like an easy glove,
As you may find, whene'er you like to prove her:
  One man alone at first her heart can move;
She then prefers him in the plural number,
Not finding that the additions much encumber.

I know not if the fault be men's or theirs;
  But one thing 's pretty sure; a woman planted
(Unless at once she plunge for life in prayers)
  After a decent time must be gallanted;
Although, no doubt, her first of love affairs
  Is that to which her heart is wholly granted;
Yet there are some, they say, who have had none,
But those who have ne'er end with only one.

'T is melancholy, and a fearful sign
  Of human frailty, folly, also crime,
That love and marriage rarely can combine,
  Although they both are born in the same clime;
Marriage from love, like vinegar from wine —
  A sad, sour, sober beverage — by time
Is sharpen'd from its high celestial flavour
Down to a very homely household savour.

There 's something of antipathy, as 't were,
  Between their present and their future state;
A kind of flattery that 's hardly fair
  Is used until the truth arrives too late —
Yet what can people do, except despair?
  The same things change their names at such a rate;
For instance — passion in a lover 's glorious,
But in a husband is pronounced uxorious.

Men grow ashamed of being so very fond;
  They sometimes also get a little tired
(But that, of course, is rare), and then despond:
  The same things cannot always be admired,
Yet 't is 'so nominated in the bond,'
  That both are tied till one shall have expired.
Sad thought! to lose the spouse that was adorning
Our days, and put one's servants into mourning.

There 's doubtless something in domestic doings
  Which forms, in fact, true love's antithesis;
Romances paint at full length people's wooings,
  But only give a bust of marriages;
For no one cares for matrimonial cooings,
  There 's nothing wrong in a connubial kiss:
Think you, if Laura had been Petrarch's wife,
He would have written sonnets all his life?

All tragedies are finish'd by a death,
  All comedies are ended by a marriage;
The future states of both are left to faith,
  For authors fear description might disparage
The worlds to come of both, or fall beneath,
  And then both worlds would punish their miscarriage;
So leaving each their priest and prayer-book ready,
They say no more of Death or of the Lady.

The only two that in my recollection
  Have sung of heaven and hell, or marriage, are
Dante and Milton, and of both the affection
  Was hapless in their nuptials, for some bar
Of fault or temper ruin'd the connection
  (Such things, in fact, it don't ask much to mar):
But Dante's Beatrice and Milton's Eve
Were not drawn from their spouses, you conceive.

Some persons say that Dante meant theology
  By Beatrice, and not a mistress — I,
Although my opinion may require apology,
  Deem this a commentator's fantasy,
Unless indeed it was from his own knowledge he
  Decided thus, and show'd good reason why;
I think that Dante's more abstruse ecstatics
Meant to personify the mathematics.

Haidee and Juan were not married, but
  The fault was theirs, not mine; it is not fair,
Chaste reader, then, in any way to put
  The blame on me, unless you wish they were;
Then if you 'd have them wedded, please to shut
  The book which treats of this erroneous pair,
Before the consequences grow too awful;
'T is dangerous to read of loves unlawful.

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