Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto V

But nature teaches more than power can spoil,
  And, when a strong although a strange sensation
Moves — female hearts are such a genial soil
  For kinder feelings, whatsoe'er their nation,
They naturally pour the 'wine and oil,'
  Samaritans in every situation;
And thus Gulbeyaz, though she knew not why,
Felt an odd glistening moisture in her eye.

But tears must stop like all things else; and soon
  Juan, who for an instant had been moved
To such a sorrow by the intrusive tone
  Of one who dared to ask if 'he had loved,'
Call'd back the stoic to his eyes, which shone
  Bright with the very weakness he reproved;
And although sensitive to beauty, he
Felt most indignant still at not being free.

Gulbeyaz, for the first time in her days,
  Was much embarrass'd, never having met
In all her life with aught save prayers and praise;
  And as she also risk'd her life to get
Him whom she meant to tutor in love's ways
  Into a comfortable tete-a-tete,
To lose the hour would make her quite a martyr,
And they had wasted now almost a quarter.

I also would suggest the fitting time
  To gentlemen in any such like case,
That is to say in a meridian clime —
  With us there is more law given to the chase,
But here a small delay forms a great crime:
  So recollect that the extremest grace
Is just two minutes for your declaration —
A moment more would hurt your reputation.

Juan's was good; and might have been still better,
  But he had got Haidee into his head:
However strange, he could not yet forget her,
  Which made him seem exceedingly ill-bred.
Gulbeyaz, who look'd on him as her debtor
  For having had him to her palace led,
Began to blush up to the eyes, and then
Grow deadly pale, and then blush back again.

At length, in an imperial way, she laid
  Her hand on his, and bending on him eyes
Which needed not an empire to persuade,
  Look'd into his for love, where none replies:
Her brow grew black, but she would not upbraid,
  That being the last thing a proud woman tries;
She rose, and pausing one chaste moment, threw
Herself upon his breast, and there she grew.

This was an awkward test, as Juan found,
  But he was steel'd by sorrow, wrath, and pride:
With gentle force her white arms he unwound,
  And seated her all drooping by his side,
Then rising haughtily he glanced around,
  And looking coldly in her face, he cried,
'The prison'd eagle will not pair, nor
Serve a Sultana's sensual phantasy.

'Thou ask'st if I can love? be this the proof
  How much I have loved — that I love not thee!
In this vile garb, the distaff, web, and woof,
  Were fitter for me: Love is for the free!
I am not dazzled by this splendid roof,
  Whate'er thy power, and great it seems to be;
Heads bow, knees bend, eyes watch around a throne,
And hands obey — our hearts are still our own.'

This was a truth to us extremely trite;
  Not so to her, who ne'er had heard such things:
She deem'd her least command must yield delight,
  Earth being only made for queens and kings.
If hearts lay on the left side or the right
  She hardly knew, to such perfection brings
Legitimacy its born votaries, when
Aware of their due royal rights o'er men.

Besides, as has been said, she was so fair
  As even in a much humbler lot had made
A kingdom or confusion anywhere,
  And also, as may be presumed, she laid
Some stress on charms, which seldom are, if e'er,
  By their possessors thrown into the shade:
She thought hers gave a double 'right divine;'
And half of that opinion 's also mine.

Remember, or (if you can not) imagine,
  Ye, who have kept your chastity when young,
While some more desperate dowager has been waging
  Love with you, and been in the dog-days stung
By your refusal, recollect her raging!
  Or recollect all that was said or sung
On such a subject; then suppose the face
Of a young downright beauty in this case.

Suppose, — but you already have supposed,
  The spouse of Potiphar, the Lady Booby,
Phaedra, and all which story has disclosed
  Of good examples; pity that so few by
Poets and private tutors are exposed,
  To educate — ye youth of Europe — you by!
But when you have supposed the few we know,
You can't suppose Gulbeyaz' angry brow.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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




Quiz