Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto V

Some talk of an appeal unto some passion,
  Some to men's feelings, others to their reason;
The last of these was never much the fashion,
  For reason thinks all reasoning out of season.
Some speakers whine, and others lay the lash on,
  But more or less continue still to tease on,
With arguments according to their 'forte;'
But no one dreams of ever being short.-

But I digress: of all appeals, — although
  I grant the power of pathos, and of gold,
Of beauty, flattery, threats, a shilling, — no
  Method 's more sure at moments to take hold
Of the best feelings of mankind, which grow
  More tender, as we every day behold,
Than that all-softening, overpowering knell,
The tocsin of the soul — the dinner-bell.

Turkey contains no bells, and yet men dine;
  And Juan and his friend, albeit they heard
No Christian knoll to table, saw no line
  Of lackeys usher to the feast prepared,
Yet smelt roast-meat, beheld a huge fire shine,
  And cooks in motion with their clean arms bared,
And gazed around them to the left and right
With the prophetic eye of appetite.

And giving up all notions of resistance,
  They follow'd close behind their sable guide,
Who little thought that his own crack'd existence
  Was on the point of being set aside:
He motion'd them to stop at some small distance,
  And knocking at the gate, 't was open'd wide,
And a magnificent large hall display'd
The Asian pomp of Ottoman parade.

I won't describe; description is my forte,
  But every fool describes in these bright days
His wondrous journey to some foreign court,
  And spawns his quarto, and demands your praise —
Death to his publisher, to him 't is sport;
  While Nature, tortured twenty thousand ways,
Resigns herself with exemplary patience
To guide-books, rhymes, tours, sketches, illustrations.

Along this hall, and up and down, some, squatted
  Upon their hams, were occupied at chess;
Others in monosyllable talk chatted,
  And some seem'd much in love with their own dress.
And divers smoked superb pipes decorated
  With amber mouths of greater price or less;
And several strutted, others slept, and some
Prepared for supper with a glass of rum.

As the black eunuch enter'd with his brace
  Of purchased Infidels, some raised their eyes
A moment without slackening from their pace;
  But those who sate ne'er stirr'd in anywise:
One or two stared the captives in the face,
  Just as one views a horse to guess his price;
Some nodded to the negro from their station,
But no one troubled him with conversation.

He leads them through the hall, and, without stopping,
  On through a farther range of goodly rooms,
Splendid but silent, save in one, where, dropping,
  A marble fountain echoes through the glooms
Of night which robe the chamber, or where popping
  Some female head most curiously presumes
To thrust its black eyes through the door or lattice,
As wondering what the devil a noise that is.

Some faint lamps gleaming from the lofty walls
  Gave light enough to hint their farther way,
But not enough to show the imperial halls,
  In all the flashing of their full array;
Perhaps there 's nothing — I 'll not say appals,
  But saddens more by night as well as day,
Than an enormous room without a soul
To break the lifeless splendour of the whole.

Two or three seem so little, one seems nothing:
  In deserts, forests, crowds, or by the shore,
There solitude, we know, has her full growth in
  The spots which were her realms for evermore;
But in a mighty hall or gallery, both in
  More modern buildings and those built of yore,
A kind of death comes o'er us all alone,
Seeing what 's meant for many with but one.

A neat, snug study on a winter's night,
  A book, friend, single lady, or a glass
Of claret, sandwich, and an appetite,
  Are things which make an English evening pass;
Though certes by no means so grand a sight
  As is a theatre lit up by gas.
I pass my evenings in long galleries solely,
And that 's the reason I 'm so melancholy.

Alas! man makes that great which makes him little:
  I grant you in a church 't is very well:
What speaks of Heaven should by no means be brittle,
  But strong and lasting, till no tongue can tell
Their names who rear'd it; but huge houses fit ill —
  And huge tombs worse — mankind, since Adam fell:
Methinks the story of the tower of Babel
Might teach them this much better than I 'm able.

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