The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday


Don Juan
Canto the Fourth
By George Gordon, Lord Byron


Nothing so difficult as a beginning
     In poesy, unless perhaps the end;
For oftentimes when Pegasus seems winning
     The race, he sprains a wing, and down we tend,
Like Lucifer when hurl'd from heaven for sinning;
     Our sin the same, and hard as his to mend,
Being pride, which leads the mind to soar too far,
Till our own weakness shows us what we are.

But Time, which brings all beings to their level,
     And sharp Adversity, will teach at last
Man, -- and, as we would hope, -- perhaps the devil,
     That neither of their intellects are vast:
While youth's hot wishes in our red veins revel,
     We know not this -- the blood flows on too fast;
But as the torrent widens towards the ocean,
We ponder deeply on each past emotion.

As boy, I thought myself a clever fellow,
     And wish'd that others held the same opinion;
They took it up when my days grew more mellow,
     And other minds acknowledged my dominion:
Now my sere fancy "falls into the yellow
     Leaf," and Imagination droops her pinion,
And the sad truth which hovers o'er my desk
Turns what was once romantic to burlesque.

And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
     'Tis that I may not weep; and if I weep,
'Tis that our nature cannot always bring
     Itself to apathy, for we must steep
Our hearts first in the depths of Lethe's spring,
     Ere what we least wish to behold will sleep:
Thetis baptized her mortal son in Styx;
A mortal mother would on Lethe fix.

Some have accused me of a strange design
     Against the creed and morals of the land,
And trace it in this poem every line:
     I don't pretend that I quite understand
My own meaning when I would be very fine;
     But the fact is that I have nothing plann'd,
Unless it were to be a moment merry,
A novel word in my vocabulary.

To the kind reader of our sober clime
     This way of writing will appear exotic;
Pulci was sire of the half-serious rhyme,
     Who sang when chivalry was more Quixotic,
And revell'd in the fancies of the time,
     True knights, chaste dames, huge giants, kings despotic:
But all these, save the last, being obsolete,
I chose a modern subject as more meet.

How I have treated it, I do not know;
     Perhaps no better than they have treated me
Who have imputed such designs as show
     Not what they saw, but what they wish'd to see:
But if it gives them pleasure, be it so;
     This is a liberal age, and thoughts are free:
Meantime Apollo plucks me by the ear,
And tells me to resume my story here.

--------


ashinae is a goddess and I bow and slobber at her feet. She knows why. *bows and slobbers*

Today we are going hiking at Great Falls (the Maryland side this time) with my in-laws, the doing...something...with them for dinner. It is absolutely gorgeous out, low eighties, low humidity, and I only have to write one article so I am quite content.


Potomac River Warning, Great Falls, Virginia
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