Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto IV

That isle is now all desolate and bare,
  Its dwellings down, its tenants pass'd away;
None but her own and father's grave is there,
  And nothing outward tells of human clay;
Ye could not know where lies a thing so fair,
  No stone is there to show, no tongue to say
What was; no dirge, except the hollow sea's,
Mourns o'er the beauty of the Cyclades.

But many a Greek maid in a loving song
  Sighs o'er her name; and many an islander
With her sire's story makes the night less long;
  Valour was his, and beauty dwelt with her:
If she loved rashly, her life paid for wrong —
  A heavy price must all pay who thus err,
In some shape; let none think to fly the danger,
For soon or late Love is his own avenger.

But let me change this theme which grows too sad,
  And lay this sheet of sorrows on the shelf;
I don't much like describing people mad,
  For fear of seeming rather touch'd myself —
Besides, I 've no more on this head to add;
  And as my Muse is a capricious elf,
We 'll put about, and try another tack
With Juan, left half-kill'd some stanzas back.

Wounded and fetter'd, 'cabin'd, cribb'd, confined,'
  Some days and nights elapsed before that he
Could altogether call the past to mind;
  And when he did, he found himself at sea,
Sailing six knots an hour before the wind;
  The shores of Ilion lay beneath their lee —
Another time he might have liked to see 'em,
But now was not much pleased with Cape Sigaeum.

There, on the green and village-cotted hill, is
  (Flank'd by the Hellespont and by the sea)
Entomb'd the bravest of the brave, Achilles;
  They say so (Bryant says the contrary):
And further downward, tall and towering still, is
  The tumulus — of whom? Heaven knows! 't may be
Patroclus, Ajax, or Protesilaus —
All heroes, who if living still would slay us.

High barrows, without marble or a name,
  A vast, untill'd, and mountain-skirted plain,
And Ida in the distance, still the same,
  And old Scamander (if 't is he) remain;
The situation seems still form'd for fame —
  A hundred thousand men might fight again
With case; but where I sought for Ilion's walls,
The quiet sheep feeds, and the tortoise crawls;

Troops of untended horses; here and there
  Some little hamlets, with new names uncouth;
Some shepherds (unlike Paris) led to stare
  A moment at the European youth
Whom to the spot their school-boy feelings bear;
  A turk, with beads in hand and pipe in mouth,
Extremely taken with his own religion,
Are what I found there — but the devil a Phrygian.

Don Juan, here permitted to emerge
  From his dull cabin, found himself a slave;
Forlorn, and gazing on the deep blue surge,
  O'ershadow'd there by many a hero's grave;
Weak still with loss of blood, he scarce could urge
  A few brief questions; and the answers gave
No very satisfactory information
About his past or present situation.

He saw some fellow captives, who appear'd
  To be Italians, as they were in fact;
From them, at least, their destiny he heard,
  Which was an odd one; a troop going to act
In Sicily (all singers, duly rear'd
  In their vocation) had not been attack'd
In sailing from Livorno by the pirate,
But sold by the impresario at no high rate.

By one of these, the buffo of the party,
  Juan was told about their curious case;
For although destined to the Turkish mart, he
  Still kept his spirits up — at least his face;
The little fellow really look'd quite hearty,
  And bore him with some gaiety and grace,
Showing a much more reconciled demeanour,
Than did the prima donna and the tenor.

In a few words he told their hapless story,
  Saying, 'Our Machiavellian impresario,
Making a signal off some promontory,
  Hail'd a strange brig — Corpo di Caio Mario!
We were transferr'd on board her in a hurry,
  Without a Single scudo of salario;
But if the Sultan has a taste for song,
We will revive our fortunes before long.

'The prima donna, though a little old,
  And haggard with a dissipated life,
And subject, when the house is thin, to cold,
  Has some good notes; and then the tenor's wife,
With no great voice, is pleasing to behold;
  Last carnival she made a deal of strife
By carrying off Count Cesare Cicogna
From an old Roman princess at Bologna.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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