Don Juan By Lord Byron Canto XI

The milliners who furnish 'drapery Misses'
  Throughout the season, upon speculation
Of payment ere the honey-moon's last kisses
  Have waned into a crescent's coruscation,
Thought such an opportunity as this is,
  Of a rich foreigner's initiation,
Not to be overlook'd — and gave such credit,
That future bridegrooms swore, and sigh'd, and paid it.

The Blues, that tender tribe who sigh o'er sonnets,
  And with the pages of the last Review
Line the interior of their heads or bonnets,
  Advanced in all their azure's highest hue:
They talk'd bad French or Spanish, and upon its
  Late authors ask'd him for a hint or two;
And which was softest, Russian or Castilian?
And whether in his travels he saw Ilion?

Juan, who was a little superficial,
  And not in literature a great Drawcansir,
Examined by this learned and especial
  Jury of matrons, scarce knew what to answer:
His duties warlike, loving or official,
  His steady application as a dancer,
Had kept him from the brink of Hippocrene,
Which now he found was blue instead of green.

However, he replied at hazard, with
  A modest confidence and calm assurance,
Which lent his learned lucubrations pith,
  And pass'd for arguments of good endurance.
That prodigy, Miss Araminta Smith
  (Who at sixteen translated 'Hercules Furens'
Into as furious English), with her best look,
Set down his sayings in her common-place book.

Juan knew several languages — as well
  He might — and brought them up with skill, in time
To save his fame with each accomplish'd belle,
  Who still regretted that he did not rhyme.
There wanted but this requisite to swell
  His qualities (with them) into sublime:
Lady Fitz-Frisky, and Miss Maevia Mannish,
Both long'd extremely to be sung in Spanish.

However, he did pretty well, and was
  Admitted as an aspirant to all
The coteries, and, as in Banquo's glass,
  At great assemblies or in parties small,
He saw ten thousand living authors pass,
  That being about their average numeral;
Also the eighty 'greatest living poets,'
As every paltry magazine can show its.

In twice five years the 'greatest living poet,'
  Like to the champion in the fisty ring,
Is call'd on to support his claim, or show it,
  Although 't is an imaginary thing.
Even I — albeit I 'm sure I did not know it,
  Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be king —
Was reckon'd a considerable time,
The grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme.

But Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero
  My Leipsic, and my Mount Saint Jean seems Cain:
'La Belle Alliance' of dunces down at zero,
  Now that the Lion 's fall'n, may rise again:
But I will fall at least as fell my hero;
  Nor reign at all, or as a monarch reign;
Or to some lonely isle of gaolers go,
With turncoat Southey for my turnkey Lowe.

Sir Walter reign'd before me; Moore and Campbell
  Before and after; but now grown more holy,
The Muses upon Sion's hill must ramble
  With poets almost clergymen, or wholly;
And Pegasus hath a psalmodic amble
  Beneath the very Reverend Rowley Powley,
Who shoes the glorious animal with stilts,
A modern Ancient Pistol — by the hilts?

Then there 's my gentle Euphues, who, they say,
  Sets up for being a sort of moral me;
He 'll find it rather difficult some day
  To turn out both, or either, it may be.
Some persons think that Coleridge hath the sway;
  And Wordsworth has supporters, two or three;
And that deep-mouth'd Boeotian 'Savage Landor'
Has taken for a swan rogue Southey's gander.

John Keats, who was kill'd off by one critique,
  Just as he really promised something great,
If not intelligible, without Greek
  Contrived to talk about the gods of late,
Much as they might have been supposed to speak.
  Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate;
'T is strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuff'd out by an article.

The list grows long of live and dead pretenders
  To that which none will gain — or none will know
The conqueror at least; who, ere Time renders
  His last award, will have the long grass grow
Above his burnt-out brain, and sapless cinders.
  If I might augur, I should rate but low
Their chances; they 're too numerous, like the thirty
Mock tyrants, when Rome's annals wax'd but dirty.

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