Page images


(Don JUAN, Canto ii. Stanzas 49-53.)

'Twas twilight, and the sunless day went down

Over the waste of waters ; like a veil, Which, if withdrawn, would but disclose the frown

Of one whose hate is mask'd but to assail. Thus to their hopeless eyes the night was shown,

And grimly darkled o'er the faces pale, And the dim desolate deep : twelve days had Fear Been their familiar, and now Death was here.

Some trial had been making at a raft,

With little hope in such a rolling sea,
A sort of thing at which one would have laugh’d,

If any laughter at such times could be,
Unless with people who too much have quaff'd,

And have a kind of wild and horrid glee,
Half epileptical, and half hysterical :-
Their preservation would have been a miracle.

At half-past eight o'clock, booms, hencoops, spars,

And all things, for a chance, had been cast loose, That still could keep afloat the struggling tars,

For yet they strove, although of no great use : There was no light in heaven but a few stars,

The boats put off o'ercrowded with their crews; She gave a heel, and then a lurch to port, And, going down head foremost-sunk, in short.

Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell

Then shriek'd the timid, and stood still the brave,Then some leap'd overboard with dreadful yell,

As eager to anticipate their grave;
And the sea yawn’d around her like a hell,

And down she suck'd with her the whirling wave,
Like one who grapples with his enemy,
And strives to strangle him before he die.

And first one universal shriek there rush'd,

Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash Of echoing thunder ; and then all was hushid,

Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash
Of billows; but at intervals there gush’d,

Accompanied with a convulsive splash,
A solitary shriek, the bubbling cry
Of some strong swimmer in his agony.


(DON JUAN, Canto ii. Stanzas III-118.)

How long in his damp trance young Juan lay

He knew not, for the earth was gone for him, And Time had nothing more of night nor day

For his congealing blood, and senses dim ; And how this heavy faintness pass'd away

He knew not, till each painful pulse and limb, And tingling vein seem'd throbbing back to life, For Death, though vanquish’d, still retired with strife.

His eyes he open'd, shut, again unclosed,

For all was doubt and dizziness; he thought He still was in the boat, and had but dozed,

And felt again with his despair o'erwrought, And wish'd it death in which he had reposed,

And then once more his feelings back were brought, And slowly by his swimming eyes was seen A lovely female face of seventeen.

'Twas bending close o'er his, and the small mouth

Seem'd almost prying into his for breath ; And, chafing him, the soft warm hand of youth

Recall’d his answering spirits back from death ;
And bathing his chill temples, tried to soothe

Each pulse to animation, till beneath
Its gentle touch and trembling care, a sigh

To these kind efforts made a low reply.

and warm,

Then was the cordial pour'd, and mantle flung

Around his scarce-clad limbs ; and the fair arm
Raised higher the faint head which o'er it hung;

And her transparent cheek, all pure
Pillow'd his death-like forehead; then she wrung

His dewy curls, long drench'd by every storm;
And watch'd with eagerness each throb that drew
A sigh from his heaved bosom-and hers, too.


And lifting him with care into the cave,

The gentle girl, and her attendant,
Young, yet her elder, and of brow less grave,

And more robust of figure,—then begun
To kindle fire, and as the new flames gave

Light to the rocks that roof'd them, which the sun Had never seen, the maid, or whatsoe'er She was, appear'd distinct, and tall, and fair

Her brow was overhung with coins of gold,

That sparkled o'er the auburn of her hair, Her clustering hair, whose longer locks were rollid

In braids behind ; and though her stature were Even of the highest for a female mould,

They nearly reach'd her heel ; and in her air There was a something which bespoke command, As one who was a lady in the land.

Her hair, I said, was auburn ; but her eyes

Were black as death, their lashes the same hue, Of downcast length, in whose silk shadows lies

Deepest attraction ; for when to the view Forth from its raven fringe the full glance flies,

Ne'er with such force the swiftest arrow flew ; 'Tis as the snake late coil'd, who pours his length, And hurls at once his venom and his strength.

Her brow was white and low, her cheek's pure dye

Like twilight rosy still with the set sun; Short upper lip-sweet lips ! that make us sigh

Ever to have seen such ; for she was one Fit for the model of a statuary

(A race of mere impostors, when all's doneI've seen much finer women, ripe and real, Than all the nonsense of their stone ideal).


(DON JUAN, Canto iii. Stanzas 70-75.)

Of all the dresses I select Haidée's :

She wore two jelicks-one was of pale yellow ; Of azure, pink, and white was her chemise

'Neath which her breast heaved like a little billow; With buttons form’d of pearls as large as peas,

All gold and crimson shone her jelick’s fellow, And the striped white gauze baracan that bound her, Like fleecy clouds about the moon flow'd round her.

One large gold bracelet clasp'd each lovely arm,

Lockless—so pliable from the pure gold
That the hand stretch'd and shut it without harm,

The limb which it adorn'd its only mould ;
So beautiful—its very shape would charm,

And clinging as if loath to lose its hold, The purest ore enclosed the whitest skin That e'er by precious metal was held in.

Around, as princess of her father's land,

A like gold bar above her instep rollid Announced her rank; twelve rings were on her hand ;

Her hair was starr'd with gems; her veil's fine fold Below her breast was fasten'd with a band

Of lavish pearls, whose worth could scarce be told; Her orange silk full Turkish trousers furld About the prettiest ankle in the world.

« PreviousContinue »