Don Juan: Canto the Second

Original Text: 
Byron, Works. 17 vols. London: John Murray, 1832-33. PR 4351 M6 1832 ROBA
186     Was steering duly for the port Leghorn;
187For there the Spanish family Moncada
188     Were settled long ere Juan's sire was born:
189They were relations, and for them he had a
190     Letter of introduction, which the morn
191Of his departure had been sent him by
192His Spanish friends for those in Italy.
193His suite consisted of three servants and
194     A tutor, the licentiate Pedrillo,
195Who several languages did understand,
196     But now lay sick and speechless on his pillow,
197And, rocking in his hammock, long'd for land,
198     His headache being increas'd by every billow;
199And the waves oozing through the port-hole made
200His berth a little damp, and him afraid.
201'Twas not without some reason, for the wind
202     Increas'd at night, until it blew a gale;
203And though 'twas not much to a naval mind,
204     Some landsmen would have look'd a little pale,
205For sailors are, in fact, a different kind:
206     At sunset they began to take in sail,
207For the sky show'd it would come on to blow,
208And carry away, perhaps, a mast or so.
209At one o'clock the wind with sudden shift
210     Threw the ship right into the trough of the sea,
211Which struck her aft, and made an awkward rift,
212     Started the stern-post, also shatter'd the
213Whole of her stern-frame, and, ere she could lift
214     Herself from out her present jeopardy,
215The rudder tore away: 'twas time to sound
216The pumps, and there were four feet water found.
217One gang of people instantly was put
218     Upon the pumps, and the remainder set
219To get up part of the cargo, and what not,
220     But they could not come at the leak as yet;
221At last they did get at it really, but
222     Still their salvation was an even bet:
223The water rush'd through in a way quite puzzling,
224While they thrust sheets, shirts, jackets, bales of muslin,
226     Would have been vain, and they must have gone down,
227Despite of all their efforts and expedients,
228     But for the pumps: I'm glad to make them known
229To all the brother tars who may have need hence,
230     For fifty tons of water were upthrown
231By them per hour, and they had all been undone,
232But for the maker, Mr. Mann, of London.
233As day advanc'd the weather seem'd to abate,
234     And then the leak they reckon'd to reduce,
235And keep the ship afloat, though three feet yet
236     Kept two hand- and one chain-pump still in use.
237The wind blew fresh again: as it grew late
238     A squall came on, and while some guns broke loose,
239A gust--which all descriptive power transcends--
240Laid with one blast the ship on her beam ends.
241There she lay, motionless, and seem'd upset;
242     The water left the hold, and wash'd the decks,
243And made a scene men do not soon forget;
244     For they remember battles, fires and wrecks,
245Or any other thing that brings regret,
246     Or breaks their hopes, or hearts, or heads, or necks:
247Thus drownings are much talked of by the divers
248And swimmers who may chance to be survivors.
249Immediately the masts were cut away,
250     Both main and mizen; first the mizen went,
251The mainmast follow'd: but the ship still lay
252     Like a mere log, and baffled our intent.
253Foremast and bowsprit were cut down, and they
254     Eas'd her at last (although we never meant
255To part with all till every hope was blighted),
256And then with violence the old ship righted.
257It may be easily suppos'd, while this
258     Was going on, some people were unquiet,
259That passengers would find it much amiss
260     To lose their lives, as well as spoil their diet;
261That even the able seaman, deeming his
262     Days nearly o'er, might be dispos'd to riot,
263As upon such occasions tars will ask
264For grog, and sometimes drink rum from the cask.
265There's nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms
266     As rum and true religion: thus it was,
267Some plunder'd, some drank spirits, some sung psalms,
268     The high wind made the treble, and as bass
269The hoarse harsh waves kept time; fright cur'd the qualms
270     Of all the luckless landsmen's sea-sick maws:
271Strange sounds of wailing, blasphemy, devotion,
272Clamour'd in chorus to the roaring ocean.
274     Our Juan, who, with sense beyond his years,
275Got to the spirit-room, and stood before
276     It with a pair of pistols; and their fears,
277As if Death were more dreadful by his door
278     Of fire than water, spite of oaths and tears,
279Kept still aloof the crew, who, ere they sunk,
280Thought it would be becoming to die drunk.
281"Give us more grog," they cried, "for it will be
282     All one an hour hence." Juan answer'd, "No!
283'Tis true that Death awaits both you and me,
284     But let us die like men, not sink below
285Like brutes"--and thus his dangerous post kept he,
286     And none lik'd to anticipate the blow;
287And even Pedrillo, his most reverend tutor,
288Was for some rum a disappointed suitor.
289The good old gentleman was quite aghast,
290     And made a loud and pious lamentation;
291Repented all his sins, and made a last
292     Irrevocable vow of reformation;
293Nothing should tempt him more (this peril past)
294     To quit his academic occupation,
295In cloisters of the classic Salamanca,
296To follow Juan's wake, like Sancho Panca.
297But now there came a flash of hope once more;
298     Day broke, and the wind lull'd: the masts were gone,
299The leak increas'd; shoals round her, but no shore,
300     The vessel swam, yet still she held her own.
301They tried the pumps again, and though, before,
302     Their desperate efforts seem'd all useless grown,
303A glimpse of sunshine set some hands to bale--
304The stronger pump'd, the weaker thrumm'd a sail.
305Under the vessel's keel the sail was pass'd,
306     And for the moment it had some effect;
307But with a leak, and not a stick of mast,
308     Nor rag of canvas, what could they expect?
309But still 'tis best to struggle to the last,
310     'Tis never too late to be wholly wreck'd:
311And though 'tis true that man can only die once,
312'Tis not so pleasant in the Gulf of Lyons.
313There winds and waves had hurl'd them, and from thence,
314     Without their will, they carried them away;
315For they were forc'd with steering to dispense,
316     And never had as yet a quiet day
317On which they might repose, or even commence
318     A jurymast or rudder, or could say
319The ship would swim an hour, which, by good luck,
320Still swam--though not exactly like a duck.
321The wind, in fact, perhaps was rather less,
322     But the ship labour'd so, they scarce could hope
323To weather out much longer; the distress
324     Was also great with which they had to cope
325For want of water, and their solid mess
326     Was scant enough: in vain the telescope
327Was us'd--nor sail nor shore appear'd in sight,
328Nought but the heavy sea, and coming night.
329Again the weather threaten'd, again blew
330     A gale, and in the fore and after-hold
331Water appear'd; yet, though the people knew
332     All this, the most were patient, and some bold,
333Until the chains and leathers were worn through
334     Of all our pumps--a wreck complete she roll'd,
335At mercy of the waves, whose mercies are
336Like human beings during civil war.
337Then came the carpenter, at last, with tears
338     In his rough eyes, and told the captain he
339Could do no more: he was a man in years,
340     And long had voyag'd through many a stormy sea,
341And if he wept at length they were not fears
342     That made his eyelids as a woman's be,
343But he, poor fellow, had a wife and children,
344Two things for dying people quite bewildering.
345The ship was evidently settling now
346     Fast by the head; and, all distinction gone,
347Some went to prayers again, and made a vow
348     Of candles to their saints--but there were none
349To pay them with; and some looked o'er the bow;
350     Some hoisted out the boats; and there was one
351That begg'd Pedrillo for an absolution,
352Who told him to be damn'd--in his confusion.
353Some lash'd them in their hammocks; some put on
354     Their best clothes, as if going to a fair;
355Some curs'd the day on which they saw the sun,
356     And gnash'd their teeth, and, howling, tore their hair;
357And others went on as they had begun,
358     Getting the boats out, being well aware
359That a tight boat will live in a rough sea,
360Unless with breakers close beneath her lee.
361The worst of all was, that in their condition,
362     Having been several days in great distress,
363'Twas difficult to get out such provision
364     As now might render their long suffering less:
365Men, even when dying, dislike inanition;
366     Their stock was damag'd by the weather's stress:
367Two casks of biscuit, and a keg of butter,
368Were all that could be thrown into the cutter.
369But in the long-boat they contriv'd to stow
370     Some pounds of bread, though injur'd by the wet;
371Water, a twenty-gallon cask or so;
372     Six flasks of wine; and they contriv'd to get
373A portion of their beef up from below,
374     And with a piece of pork, moreover, met,
375But scarce enough to serve them for a luncheon--
376Then there was rum, eight gallons in a puncheon.
377The other boats, the yawl and pinnace, had
378     Been stove in the beginning of the gale;
379And the long-boat's condition was but bad,
380     As there were but two blankets for a sail,
381And one oar for a mast, which a young lad
382     Threw in by good luck over the ship's rail;
383And two boats could not hold, far less be stor'd,
384To save one half the people then on board.
385'Twas twilight, and the sunless day went down
386     Over the waste of waters; like a veil,
387Which, if withdrawn, would but disclose the frown
388     Of one whose hate is mask'd but to assail.
389Thus to their hopeless eyes the night was shown,
390     And grimly darkled o'er the faces pale,
391And the dim desolate deep: twelve days had Fear
392Been their familiar, and now Death was here.
393Some trial had been making at a raft,
394     With little hope in such a rolling sea,
395A sort of thing at which one would have laugh'd,
396     If any laughter at such times could be,
397Unless with people who too much have quaff'd,
398     And have a kind of wild and horrid glee,
399Half epileptical, and half hysterical--
400Their preservation would have been a miracle.
401At half-past eight o'clock, booms, hencoops, spars,
402     And all things, for a chance, had been cast loose,
403That still could keep afloat the struggling tars,
404     For yet they strove, although of no great use:
405There was no light in heaven but a few stars,
406     The boats put off o'ercrowded with their crews;
407She gave a heel, and then a lurch to port,
408And, going down head foremost--sunk, in short.
409Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell,
410     Then shriek'd the timid, and stood still the brave,
411Then some leap'd overboard with dreadful yell,
412     As eager to anticipate their grave;
413And the sea yawn'd around her like a hell,
414     And down she suck'd with her the whirling wave,
415Like one who grapples with his enemy,
416And strives to strangle him before he die.
417And first one universal shriek there rush'd,
418     Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash
419Of echoing thunder; and then all was hush'd,
420     Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash
421Of billows; but at intervals there gush'd,
422     Accompanied by a convulsive splash,
423A solitary shriek, the bubbling cry
424Of some strong swimmer in his agony.
425The boats, as stated, had got off before,
426     And in them crowded several of the crew;
427And yet their present hope was hardly more
428     Than what it had been, for so strong it blew
429There was slight chance of reaching any shore;
430     And then they were too many, though so few--
431Nine in the cutter, thirty in the boat,
432Were counted in them when they got afloat.
433All the rest perish'd; near two hundred souls
434     Had left their bodies; and what's worse, alas!
435When over Catholics the ocean rolls,
436     They must wait several weeks before a mass
437Takes off one peck of purgatorial coals,
438     Because, till people know what's come to pass,
439They won't lay out their money on the dead--
440It costs three francs for every mass that's said.
441Juan got into the long-boat, and there
442     Contriv'd to help Pedrillo to a place;
443If seem'd as if they had exchang'd their care,
444     For Juan wore the magisterial face
445Which courage gives, while poor Pedrillo's pair
446     Of eyes were crying for their owner's case:
447Battista, though (a name called shortly Tita),
448Was lost by getting at some aqua-vita.
449Pedro, his valet, too, he tried to save,
450     But the same cause, conducive to his loss,
451Left him so drunk, he jump'd into the wave,
452     As o'er the cutter's edge he tried to cross,
453And so he found a wine-and-watery grave;
454     They could not rescue him although so close,
455Because the sea ran higher every minute,
456And for the boat--the crew kept crowding in it.
457A small old spaniel--which had been Don José's,
458     His father's, whom he lov'd, as ye may think,
459For on such things the memory reposes
460     With tenderness--stood howling on the brink,
461Knowing (dogs have such intellectual noses!),
462     No doubt, the vessel was about to sink;
463And Juan caught him up, and ere he stepp'd
464     Off threw him in, then after him he leap'd.
465He also stuff'd his money where he could
466     About his person, and Pedrillo's too,
467Who let him do, in fact, whate'er he would,
468     Not knowing what himself to say, or do,
469As every rising wave his dread renew'd;
470     But Juan, trusting they might still get through,
471And deeming there were remedies for any ill,
472Thus re-embark'd his tutor and his spaniel.
473'Twas a rough night, and blew so stiffly yet,
474     That the sail was becalm'd between the seas,
475Though on the wave's high top too much to set,
476     They dar'd not take it in for all the breeze:
477Each sea curl'd o'er the stern, and kept them wet,
478     And made them bale without a moment's ease,
479So that themselves as well as hopes were damp'd,
480And the poor little cutter quickly swamp'd.
481Nine souls more went in her: the long-boat still
482     Kept above water, with an oar for mast,
483Two blankets stitch'd together, answering ill
484     Instead of sail, were to the oar made fast;
485Though every wave roll'd menacing to fill,
486     And present peril all before surpass'd,
487They griev'd for those who perish'd with the cutter,
488And also for the biscuit-casks and butter.
489The sun rose red and fiery, a sure sign
490     Of the continuance of the gale: to run
491Before the sea until it should grow fine
492     Was all that for the present could be done:
493A few tea-spoonfuls of their rum and wine
494     Were serv'd out to the people, who begun
495To faint, and damag'd bread wet through the bags,
496And most of them had little clothes but rags.
497They counted thirty, crowded in a space
498     Which left scarce room for motion or exertion;
499They did their best to modify their case,
500     One half sate up, though numb'd with the immersion,
501While t'other half were laid down in their place,
502     At watch and watch; thus, shivering like the tertian
503Ague in its cold fit, they fill'd their boat,
504With nothing but the sky for a great coat.
505'Tis very certain the desire of life
506     Prolongs it: this is obvious to physicians,
507When patients, neither plagu'd with friends nor wife,
508     Survive through very desperate conditions,
509Because they still can hope, nor shines the knife
511Despair of all recovery spoils longevity,
512And makes men's misery of alarming brevity.
513'Tis said that persons living on annuities
514     Are longer liv'd than others--God knows why,
515Unless to plague the grantors--yet so true it is
516     That some, I really think, do never die:
517Of any creditors the worst a Jew it is,
518     And that 's their mode of furnishing supply:
519In my young days they lent me cash that way,
521'Tis thus with people in an open boat,
522     They live upon the love of life, and bear
523More than can be believ'd, or even thought,
524     And stand like rocks the tempest's wear and tear;
525And hardship still has been the sailor's lot,
526     Since Noah's ark went cruising here and there;
527She had a curious crew as well as cargo,
529But man is a carnivorous production,
530     And must have meals, at least one meal a day;
531He cannot live, like woodcocks, upon suction,
532     But, like the shark and tiger, must have prey;
533Although his anatomical construction
534     Bears vegetables in a grumbling way,
535Your labouring people think, beyond all question,
536Beef, veal and mutton better for digestion.
537And thus it was with this our hapless crew;
538     For on the third day there came on a calm,
539And though at first their strength it might renew,
540     And lying on their weariness like balm,
541Lull'd them like turtles sleeping on the blue
542     Of ocean, when they woke they felt a qualm,
543And fell all ravenously on their provision,
544Instead of hoarding it with due precision.
545The consequence was easily foreseen--
546     They ate up all they had, and drank their wine,
547In spite of all remonstrances, and then
548     On what, in fact, next day were they to dine?
549They hop'd the wind would rise, these foolish men!
550     And carry them to shore; these hopes were fine,
551But as they had but one oar, and that brittle,
552It would have been more wise to save their victual.
553The fourth day came, but not a breath of air,
554     And Ocean slumber'd like an unwean'd child:
555The fifth day, and their boat lay floating there,
556     The sea and sky were blue, and clear, and mild--
557With their one oar (I wish they had had a pair)
558     What could they do? and Hunger's rage grew wild:
559So Juan's spaniel, spite of his entreating,
560Was kill'd, and portion'd out for present eating.
561On the sixth day they fed upon his hide,
562     And Juan, who had still refus'd, because
563The creature was his father's dog that died,
564     Now feeling all the vulture in his jaws,
565With some remorse receiv'd (though first denied)
566     As a great favour one of the fore-paws,
567Which he divided with Pedrillo, who
568Devour'd it, longing for the other too.
570     Blister'd and scorch'd, and, stagnant on the sea,
571They lay like carcasses; and hope was none,
572     Save in the breeze that came not; savagely
573They glar'd upon each other--all was done,
574     Water, and wine, and food--and you might see
575The longings of the cannibal arise
576(Although they spoke not) in their wolfish eyes.
577At length one whisper'd his companion, who
578     Whisper'd another, and thus it went round,
579And then into a hoarser murmur grew,
580     An ominous, and wild, and desperate sound;
581And when his comrade's thought each sufferer knew,
582     'Twas but his own, suppress'd till now, he found;
583And out they spoke of lots for flesh and blood,
584And who should die to be his fellow's food.
585But ere they came to this, they that day shar'd
586     Some leathern caps, and what remain'd of shoes;
587And then they look'd around them, and despair'd,
588     And none to be the sacrifice would choose;
589At length the lots were torn up, and prepar'd,
590     But of materials that must shock the Muse--
591Having no paper, for the want of better,
592They took by force from Juan Julia's letter.
593The lots were made, and mark'd, and mix'd, and handed,
594     In silent horror, and their distribution
595Lull'd even the savage hunger which demanded,
596     Like the Promethean vulture, this pollution;
597None in particular had sought or plann'd it,
598     'Twas Nature gnaw'd them to this resolution,
599By which none were permitted to be neuter--
600And the lot fell on Juan's luckless tutor.
601He but requested to be bled to death:
602     The surgeon had his instruments, and bled
603Pedrillo, and so gently ebb'd his breath,
604     You hardly could perceive when he was dead.
605He died as born, a Catholic in faith,
606     Like most in the belief in which they're bred,
607And first a little crucifix he kiss'd,
608And then held out his jugular and wrist.
609The surgeon, as there was no other fee,
610     Had his first choice of morsels for his pains;
611But being thirstiest at the moment, he
612     Preferr'd a draught from the fast-flowing vems:
613Part was divided, part thrown in the sea,
614     And such things as the entrails and the brain;
615Regal'd two sharks, who follow'd o'er the billow--
616The sailors ate the rest of poor Pedrillo.
617The sailors ate him, all save three or four,
618     Who were not quite so fond of animal food
619To these was added Juan, who, before
620     Refusing his own spaniel, hardly could
621Feel now his appetite increas'd much more;
622     'Twas not to be expected that he should,
623Even in extremity of their disaster,
624Dine with them on his pastor and his master.
625'Twas better that he did not; for, in fact,
626     The consequence was awful in the extreme;
627For they, who were most ravenous in the act,
628     Went raging mad--Lord! how they did blaspheme!
629And foam and roll, with strange convulsions rack'd,
630     Drinking salt-water like a mountain-stream,
631Tearing, and grinning, howling, screeching, swearing,
632And, with hyæena-laughter, died despairing.
633Their numbers were much thinn'd by this infliction,
634     And all the rest were thin enough, Heaven knows;
635And some of them had lost their recollection,
636     Happier than they who still perceiv'd their woes;
637But others ponder'd on a new dissection,
638     As if not warn'd sufficiently by those
639Who had already perish'd, suflfering madly,
640For having us'd their appetites so sadly.
722     The scattering clouds, shone, spanning the dark sea,
723Resting its bright base on the quivering blue;
724     And all within its arch appear'd to be
725Clearer than that without, and its wide hue
726     Wax'd broad and waving, like a banner free,
727Then chang'd like to a bow that's bent, and then
728Forsook the dim eyes of these shipwreck'd men.
729It chang'd, of course; a heavenly chameleon,
730     The airy child of vapour and the sun,
731Brought forth in purple, cradled in vermilion,
732     Baptiz'd in molten gold, and swath'd in dun,
733Glittering like crescents o'er a Turk's pavilion,
734     And blending every colour into one,
735Just like a black eye in a recent scuffle
736(For sometimes we must box without the muffle).
737Our shipwreck'd seamen thought it a good omen--
738     It is as well to think so, now and then;
739'Twas an old custom of the Greek and Roman,
740     And may become of great advantage when
741Folks are discourag'd; and most surely no men
742     Had greater need to nerve themselves again
743Than these, and so this rainbow look'd like hope--
746     Webfooted, not unlike a dove in size
747And plumage (probably it might have err'd
748     Upon its course), pass'd oft before their eyes,
749And tried to perch, although it saw and heard
750     The men within the boat, and in this guise
751It came and went, and flutter'd round them till
752Night fell--this seem'd a better omen still.
753But in this case I also must remark,
754     'Twas well this bird of promise did not perch,
755Because the tackle of our shatter'd bark
756     Was not so safe for roosting as a church;
757And had it been the dove from Noah's ark,
758     Returning there from her successful search,
759Which in their way that moment chanc'd to fall,
760They would have eat her, olive-branch and all.
761With twilight it again came on to blow,
762     But not with violence; the stars shone out,
763The boat made way; yet now they were so low,
764     They knew not where or what they were about;
765Some fancied they saw land, and some said "No!"
766     The frequent fog-banks gave them cause to doubt--
767Some swore that they heard breakers, others guns,
768And all mistook about the latter once.
769As morning broke, the light wind died away,
770     When he who had the watch sung out and swore,
771If 'twas not land that rose with the sun's ray,
772     He wish'd that land he never might see more;
773And the rest rubb'd their eyes and saw a bay,
774     Or thought they saw, and shap'd their course for shore;
775For shore it was, and gradually grew
776Distinct, and high, and palpable to view.
777And then of these some part burst into tears,
778     And others, looking with a stupid stare,
779Could not yet separate their hopes from fears,
780     And seem'd as if they had no further care;
781While a few pray'd (the first time for some years)
782     And at the bottom of the boat three were
783Asleep: they shook them by the hand and head,
784And tried to awaken them, but found them dead.
785The day before, fast sleeping on the water,
786     They found a turtle of the hawk's-bill kind,
787And by good fortune, gliding softly, caught her,
788     Which yielded a day's life, and to their mind
789Prov'd even still a more nutritious matter,
790     Because it left encouragement behind:
791They thought that in such perils, more than chance
792Had sent them this for their deliverance.
793The land appear'd a high and rocky coast,
794     And higher grew the mountains as they drew,
795Set by a current, toward it: they were lost
796     In various conjectures, for none knew
797To what part of the earth they had been toss'd,
798     So changeable had been the winds that blew;
799Some thought it was Mount Ætna, some the highlands
801Meantime the current, with a rising gale,
802     Still set them onwards to the welcome shore,
804     Their living freight was now reduc'd to four,
805And three dead, whom their strength could not avail
806     To heave into the deep with those before,
807Though the two sharks still follow'd them, and dash'd
808The spray into their faces as they splash'd.
809Famine, despair, cold, thirst and heat had done
810     Their work on them by turns, and thinn'd them to
811Such things a mother had not known her son
812     Amidst the skeletons of that gaunt crew;
813By night chill'd, by day scorch'd, thus one by one
814     They perish'd, until wither'd to these few,
815But chiefly by a species of self-slaughter,
816In washing down Pedrillo with salt water.
817As they drew nigh the land, which now was seen
818     Unequal in its aspect here and there,
819They felt the freshness of its growing green,
820     That wav'd in forest-tops, and smooth'd the air,
821And fell upon their glaz'd eyes like a screen
822     From glistening waves, and skies so hot and bare--
823Lovely seem'd any object that should sweep
824Away the vast, salt, dread, eternal Deep.
825The shore look'd wild, without a trace of man,
826     And girt by formidable waves; but they
827Were mad for land, and thus their course they ran,
828     Though right ahead the roaring breakers lay:
829A reef between them also now began
830     To show its boiling surf and bounding spray,
831But finding no place for their landing better,
832They ran the boat for shore, and overset her.
833But in his native stream, the Guadalquivir,
834     Juan to lave his youthful limbs was wont;
835And having learnt to swim in that sweet river,
836     Had often turn'd the art to some account:
837A better swimmer you could scarce see ever,
838     He could, perhaps, have pass'd the Hellespont,
839As once (a feat on which ourselves we prided)
841So here, though faint, emaciated and stark,
842     He buoy'd his boyish limbs, and strove to ply
843With the quick wave, and gain, ere it was dark,
844     The beach which lay before him, high and dry:
845The greatest danger here was from a shark,
846     That carried off his neighbour by the thigh;
847As for the other two, they could not swim,
848So nobody arriv'd on shore but him.
849Nor yet had he arriv'd but for the oar,
850     Which, providentially for him, was wash'd
851Just as his feeble arms could strike no more,
852     And the hard wave o'erwhelm'd him as 'twas dash'd
853Within his grasp; he clung to it, and sore
854     The waters beat while he thereto was lash'd;
855At last, with swimming, wading, scrambling, he
856Roll'd on the beach, half-senseless, from the sea:
857There, breathless, with his digging nails he clung
858     Fast to the sand, lest the returning wave,
859From whose reluctant roar his life he wrung,
860     Should suck him back to her insatiate grave:
861And there he lay, full length, where he was flung,
862     Before the entrance of a cliff-worn cave,
863With just enough of life to feel its pain,
864And deem that it was sav'd, perhaps in vain.
1386     Paid daily visits to her boy, and took
1387Such plentiful precautions, that still he
1388     Remain'd unknown within his craggy nook;
1389At last her father's prows put out to sea,
1390     For certain merchantmen upon the look,
1393Then came her freedom, for she had no mother,
1394     So that, her father being at sea, she was
1395Free as a married woman, or such other
1396     Female, as where she likes may freely pass,
1397Without even the encumbrance of a brother,
1398     The freest she that ever gaz'd on glass:
1399I speak of Christian lands in this comparison,
1400Where wives, at least, are seldom kept in garrison.
1401Now she prolong'd her visits and her talk
1402     (For they must talk), and he had learnt to say
1403So much as to propose to take a walk--
1404     For little had he wander'd since the day
1405On which, like a young flower snapp'd from the stalk,
1406     Drooping and dewy on the beach he lay--
1407And thus they walk'd out in the afternoon,
1408And saw the sun set opposite the moon.
1409It was a wild and breaker-beaten coast,
1410     With cliffs above, and a broad sandy shore,
1411Guarded by shoals and rocks as by an host,
1412     With here and there a creek, whose aspect wore
1413A better welcome to the tempest-tost;
1414     And rarely ceas'd the haughty billow's roar,
1415Save on the dead long summer days, which make
1416The outstretch'd ocean glitter like a lake.
1417And the small ripple spilt upon the beach
1418     Scarcely o'erpass'd the cream of your champagne,
1419When o'er the brim the sparkling bumpers reach,
1420     That spring-dew of the spirit! the heart's rain!
1421Few things surpass old wine; and they may preach
1422     Who please--the more because they preach in vain,
1423Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter,
1424Sermons and soda-water the day after.
1425Man, being reasonable, must get drunk;
1426     The best of life is but intoxication:
1427Glory, the grape, love, gold, in these are sunk
1428     The hopes of all men, and of every nation;
1429Without their sap, how branchless were the trunk
1430     Of Life's strange tree, so fruitful on occasion:
1431But to return--get very drunk, and when
1432You wake with headache, you shall see what then.
1433Ring for your valet--bid him quickly bring
1434     Some hock and soda-water, then you'll know
1436     For not the blest sherbet, sublim'd with snow,
1437Nor the first sparkle of the desert-spring,
1438     Nor Burgundy in all its sunset glow,
1439After long travel, ennui, love, or slaughter,
1440Vie with that draught of hock and soda-water!
1441The coast--I think it was the coast that I
1442     Was just describing--Yes, it was the coast--
1443Lay at this period quiet as the sky,
1444     The sands untumbled, the blue waves untoss'd,
1445And all was stillness, save the sea-bird's cry,
1446     And dolphin's leap, and the little billow cross'd
1447By some low rock or shelve, that made it fret
1448Against the boundary it scarcely wet.
1449And forth they wander'd, her sire being gone,
1450     As I have said, upon an expedition;
1451And mother, brother, guardian, she had none,
1452     Save Zoe, who, although with due precision
1453She waited on her lady with the sun,
1454     Thought daily service was her only mission,
1455Bringing warm water, wreathing her long tresses,
1456And asking now and then for cast-off dresses.
1457It was the cooling hour, just when the rounded
1458     Red sun sinks down behind the azure hill,
1459Which then seems as if the whole earth it bounded,
1460     Circling all Nature, hush'd, and dim, and still,
1461With the far mountain-crescent half surrounded
1462     On one side, and the deep sea calm and chill
1463Upon the other, and the rosy sky
1464With one star sparkling through it like an eye.
1465And thus they wander'd forth, and hand in hand,
1466     Over the shining pebbles and the shells,
1467Glided along the smooth and harden'd sand,
1468     And in the worn and wild receptacles
1469Work'd by the storms, yet work'd as it were plann'd
1470     In hollow halls, with sparry roofs and cells,
1471They turn'd to rest; and, each clasp'd by an arm,
1472Yielded to the deep twilight's purple charm.
1473They look'd up to the sky, whose floating glow
1474     Spread like a rosy ocean, vast and bright;
1475They gaz'd upon the glittering sea below,
1476     Whence the broad moon rose circling into sight;
1477They heard the wave's splash, and the wind so low,
1478     And saw each other's dark eyes darting light
1479Into each other--and, beholding this,
1480Their lips drew near, and clung into a kiss;
1481A long, long kiss, a kiss of youth, and love,
1482     And beauty, all concentrating like rays
1483Into one focus, kindled from above;
1484     Such kisses as belong to early days,
1485Where heart, and soul, and sense, in concert move,
1486     And the blood's lava, and the pulse a blaze,
1487Each kiss a heart-quake--for a kiss's strength,
1488I think, it must be reckon'd by its length.
1489By length I mean duration; theirs endur'd
1490     Heaven knows how long--no doubt they never reckon'd;
1491And if they had, they could not have secur'd
1492     The sum of their sensations to a second:
1493They had not spoken, but they felt allur'd,
1494     As if their souls and lips each other beckon'd,
1495Which, being join'd, like swarming bees they clung--
1496Their hearts the flowers from whence the honey sprung.
1497They were alone, but not alone as they
1498     Who shut in chambers think it loneliness;
1499The silent ocean, and the starlight bay,
1500     The twilight glow, which momently grew less,
1501The voiceless sands, and dropping caves, that lay
1502     Around them, made them to each other press,
1503As if there were no life beneath the sky
1504Save theirs, and that their life could never die.
1505They fear'd no eyes nor ears on that lone beach;
1506     They felt no terrors from the night; they were
1507All in all to each other: though their speech
1508     Was broken words, they thought a language there,
1509And all the burning tongues the passions teach
1510     Found in one sigh the best interpreter
1511Of Nature's oracle--first love--that all
1512Which Eve has left her daughters since her fall.
1513Haidée spoke not of scruples, ask'd no vows,
1514     Nor offer'd any; she had never heard
1515Of plight and promises to be a spouse,
1516     Or perils by a loving maid incurr'd;
1517She was all which pure ignorance allows,
1518     And flew to her young mate like a young bird;
1519And, never having dreamt of falsehood, she
1520Had not one word to say of constancy.
1521She lov'd, and was belovéd--she ador'd,
1523Their intense souls, into each other pour'd,
1524     If souls could die, had perish'd in that passion,
1525But by degrees their senses were restor'd,
1526     Again to be o'ercome, again to dash on;
1527And, beating 'gainst his bosom, Haidée's heart
1528Felt as if never more to beat apart.
1529Alas! they were so young, so beautiful,
1530     So lonely, loving, helpless, and the hour
1531Was that in which the heart is always full,
1532     And, having o'er itself no further power,
1533Prompts deeds Eternity can not annul,
1534     But pays off moments in an endless shower
1535Of hell-fire--all prepar'd for people giving
1536Pleasure or pain to one another living.
1537Alas! for Juan and Haidée! they were
1538     So loving and so lovely--till then never,
1539Excepting our first parents, such a pair
1540     Had run the risk of being damn'd for ever;
1541And Haidée, being devout as well as fair,
1542     Had, doubtless, heard about the Stygian river,
1543And Hell and Purgatory--but forgot
1544Just in the very crisis she should not.
1545They look upon each other, and their eyes
1546     Gleam in the moonlight; and her white arm clasps
1547Round Juan's head, and his around her lies
1548     Half buried in the tresses which it grasps;
1549She sits upon his knee, and drinks his sighs,
1550     He hers, until they end in broken gasps;
1551And thus they form a group that's quite antique,
1552Half naked, loving, natural, and Greek.
1553And when those deep and burning moments pass'd,
1554     And Juan sunk to sleep within her arms,
1555She slept not, but all tenderly, though fast,
1556     Sustain'd his head upon her bosom's charms;
1557And now and then her eye to Heaven is cast,
1558     And then on the pale cheek her breast now warms,
1559Pillow'd on her o'erflowing heart, which pants
1560With all it granted, and with all it grants.


185] In a letter to John Murray, August 23, 1821, Byron writes of the Trinidada's shipwreck that there "was not a single circumstance of it not taken from fact; not, indeed, from any single shipwreck, but from actual facts of different wrecks." His main source was Shipwrecks and Disasters at Sea, edited by Sir J. G. Dalyell (1812), to which his verbal indebtedness is very close. He also used Captain William Bligh's A Narrative of the Mutiny of the Bounty (1790). For detailed evidence see the annotated editions of Don Juan by Thomas Moore, by E. H. Coleridge, and by W. W. Pratt. Back to Line
225] One of Dalyell's narrators says he owes his life to Mr. Mann's pumps. Back to Line
273] This scene, including most of the words of the dialogue, comes from the account in Dalyell of the sinking on February 5, 1805, of the "Earl of Abergavenny," in which the captain, John Wordsworth (brother of William), was among the drowned. See Wordsworth's Elegiac Stanzas. Back to Line
510] shears of Atropos. In Greek mythology Atropos was the one of the three Fates who cut the thread of life. Back to Line
520] troublesome to pay. Byron's debts to Jewish moneylenders were large, most of them contracted in early youth. Back to Line
528] the Argo: the ship in which Jason sought the Golden Fleece. Back to Line
569] The cannibalistic episode, including the lots, the surgeon's draught of blood, and the aftermath of raging madness, is taken from "Sufferings of Twelve Men, the Crew of the Thomas, in an Open Boat, 1797" in Dalyell. Back to Line
721] LXXXI-XC: In these omitted stanzas Byron describes the deaths of two children and the reactions of their fathers, also the partial relief, first of a catch of three birds and then of a heavy fall of rain. Back to Line
744] kaleidoscope: a very recent invention, which Byron first saw in November 1818. "Spooney arrived here today, but has left in Chancery Lane all my books, everything in short, except a damned (something) SCOPE. I have broke the glass, and cut a finger in ramming it together" (Letter to Hobhouse). Back to Line
745] beautiful white bird: just a seagull. Back to Line
800] Candia: Crete. Back to Line
803] Charon: ferryman across the river Styx to the underworld of classical mythology. Back to Line
840] Leander, Mr. Ekenhead and I did. The legendary Leander swam nightly across the Dardanelles (Hellespont) from Abydos to Sestos to see Hero. Byron and Lt. Ekenhead of the "Salsette" swam across on May 10, 1810. Back to Line
1385] CIX-CLXXIII: These omitted stanzas tell how the "fair Haidée" and her maid Zoë discover Juan and nurse him back to health. Back to Line
1391] Io: maiden beloved of Zeus and carried off by the Phoenicians. Back to Line
1392] Ragusan vessels, bound for Scio. Ragusa was an Adriatic port and Scio an Aegean island. Back to Line
1435] A pleasure worthy Xerxes: see Don Juan, I, cxviii: "'Tis said that Xerxes offered a reward/To those who could invent him a new pleasure." Back to Line
1522] after Nature's fashion. Whether this phrase modifies "pour'd," "perish'd" or (by one editor's deletion of the first edition's semi-colon) "worshipp'd" is uncertain. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
M. T. Wilson
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.519.