For these you may be stript of -- but be-loved
As an abstraction -- for -- you know not what!
These are the wishes of a moderate lover --
And so you love.
Arn. Ah ! could I be beloved,
Would I ask wherefore?
Cœs. Yes! and not believe
The answer -- You are jealous.
Arn. And of whom?
Cœs. It may be of yourself, for Jealousy
Is as a shadow of the Sun. The Orb
Is mighty -- as you mortals deem -- and to
Your little Universe seems universal; 140 But, great as He appears, and is to you,
The smallest cloud -- the slightest vapour of
Your humid earth enables you to look
Upon a Sky which you revile as dull,
Though your eyes dare not gaze on it when cloudless.
Nothing can blind a mortal like to light.
Now Love in you is as the Sun -- a thing
Beyond you -- and your Jealousy's of
A cloud of your own raising.
Arn. Not so always!
There is a cause at times.
Cces. Oh, yes ! when atoms jostle, 150
The System is in peril. But I speak
Of things you know not. Well, to earth again!
This precious thing of dust -- this bright
This marvellous Virgin. is a marble maid -
An Idol, but a cold one to your heat
Promethean, and unkindled by your torch.
Arn. Slave !
Cœs. In the victor's Chariot, when Rome triumph'd,
There was a Slave of yore to tell him truth ! You are a Conqueror -- command your
Arn. Teach me the way to win the
woman's love. 160 Cces. Leave her.
Arn. Were that the path -
I'd not pursue it.
Cces. No doubt! for if you did, the remedy
Would be for a disease already cured.
Arn. All wretched as I am, I would not
My unrequited love, for all that's happy.
Cœs. You have possess'd the woman - still possess. What need you more?
Arn. To be myself possessd -
To be her heart as she is mine.
[The composition of Don Juan began in the autumn of 1818 and extended, with intermissions, until a few months before Byron's death. The fragment of the seventeenth Canto, which is here reproduced from the new Murray edition, was actually carried with him to Greece. The dates of composition and publication are as follows: Canto I. was written in September, 1818; Canto II. in December, 1818, and January, 1819; Cantos I. and II. were published July 15, 1819; Cantos III. and IV. were written in the following winter; Canto V. in October and November of 1820; Cantos III., IV., and V. were published August 8, 1821; Cantos VI. to XVI. were written between June, 1822, and March, 1823; Cantos VI., VII., VIII. were published July 15, 1823; Cantos IX., X., XI., August 29, 1823; Cantos XII., XIII., XIV., December 17, 1823; Cantos XV., XVI., March 26, 1824. The first five cantos were issued by Murray without name of either author or publisher -- and wisely, for the storm of obloquy roused by their mingled voluptuousness and scepticism was tremendous. Naturally the authorship was an open secret, for who but Byron could have written them? The remaining cantos were prudently declined by Mr. Murray, and were finally brought out by John Hunt. -- Byron shows no particular knowledge of the Don Juan story as treated by earlier poets, and the subject was manifestly a mere pretext in his hands for writing indiscriminately on whatever came into his mind. He speaks somewhere as intending to follow the regular epic tradition, with a picture of hell and the like; but it is hard to see how any miraculous conclusion could have been tacked on to the plot as it was progressing in the sixteenth and seventeenth cantos. Were this the proper place for such a discussion, it might be argued that Don Juan, in its actual form, was the only epic manner left for a poet of the nineteenth century to adopt with power of conviction. In one sense Don Juan is a satire, to many critics the greatest satire ever written; but it is something still more than that. It is the epic of modern life.]