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CANTO IV.

1. 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 hurld 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.

II.
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.

III.
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.

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IV. And if I laugh at any mortal thing,

'T is that I may not weep; and if I weep, 'T is that our nature cannot always bring

Itself to apathy, which we must steep
First in the icy 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.

V.
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 was to be a moment merry-
A novel word in my vocabulary.

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VI.
To the kind reader of our sober clime

This way of writing will appear exotic :
Pulci was sire of the half-serious rhyme,

Who sung 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.

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VII.
How I have treated it, I do not know-

Perhaps no better than they ’ve 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.

VIII.
Young Juan and his lady-love were left

To their own hearts' mosi sweet society ;
Even Time, the pitiless, in sorrow cleft
With his rude scythe such gentle bosoms ; he

; Sigh’d to behold them of their hours bereft,

Though foe to love ; and yet they could not be Meant to grow old, but die in happy spring, Before one charm or hope had taken wing.

IX.
Their faces were not made for wrinkles, their

Pure blood to stagnate, their great hearts to fail ;
The blank gray was not made to blast their hair,

But, like the climes that know nor snow nor hail,
They were all summer : lightning might assail

And shiver them to ashes, but to trail
A long and snake-like life of dull decay
Was not for them--they had too little clay.

X.
They were alone once more ; for them to be

Thus was another Eden; they were never
Weary, unless when separate : the tree

Cut from its forest root of years—the river Damm'd from its fountain the child from the knee

And breast maternal wean'd at once for ever, Would wither less than these two torn apart; Alas! there is no instinct like the heart

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XI.
The heart—which may be broken. Happy they !

Thrice fòrtunate! who, of that fragile mould,
The precious porcelain of human clay,

Break with the first fall : they can ne'er behold The long year link'd with heavy day on day,

And all which must be borne, and never told ; While life's strange principle will often lie Deepest in those who long the most to die.

XII.
“Whom the gods love die young," was said of yore,'

And many deaths do they escape by this :
The death of friends, and that which slays even more-

The death of friendship, love, youth, all that is,
Except mere breath : and since the silent shore

Awaits at least even those whom longest miss The old archer's shafts, perhaps the early grave Which men weep over may be meant to save.

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XIII.
Haidee and Juan thought not of the dead ;

The heavens, and earth, and air, seem'd made for them; They found no fault with Time, save that he fled;

They saw not in themselves aught to condemn.
Each was the other's mirror, and but read
Joy sparkling in their dark

eyes
And knew such brightness was but the reflection
Of their exchanging glances of affection.

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XIV.
The gentle pressure and the thrilling touch,

The least glance better understood than words,
Which still said all, and ne'er could say too much ;

A language, too, but like to that of birds,
Known but to them, at least appearing such

As but to lovers a true sense affords;
Sweet playful phrases, which would seem absurd
To those who 've ceased to hear such, or ne'er heard ;

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XV.
All these were theirs, for they were children still,

And children still they should have ever been;
They were not made in the real world to fill

A busy character in the dull scene ; But like two beings born from out a rill,

A nymph and her beloved, all unseen To pass

their lives in fountains and on flowers, And never know the weight of human hours.

XVI. Moons changing had rollid on, and changeless found

Those their bright rise had lighted to such joys As rarely they beheld throughout their round:

And these were not of the vain kind which cloys ; For theirs were buoyant spirits, never bound

By the mere senses; and that which destroys
Most love, possession, unto them appear'd
A thing which each endearment more endear'd.

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XVII. Oh beautiful! and rare as beautiful !

But theirs was love in which the mind delights To lose itself, when the old world grows dull,

And we are sick of its hack sounds and sights, Intrigues, adventures of the common school,

Its petty passions, marriages, and flights, Where Hymen's torch but brands one strumpet more, Whose husband only knows her not a wh-re.

XVIIJ Hard words; harsh truth; a truth which many know.

Enough.—The faithful and the fairy pair, . Who never found a single hour too slow,

What was it made them thus exempt from care?
Young innate feelings all have felt below,

Which perish in the rest, but in them were
Inherent; what we mortals call romantic,
And always envy, though we deem it frantic.

XIX. This is in others a factitious state,

An opium dream of too much youth and reading; But was in them their nature or their fate: No novels e'er had set their

young hearts bleeding, For Haidee's knowledge was by no means great,

And Juan was a boy of saintly breeding ;
So that there was no reason for their loves
More than for those of nightingales or doves.'

XX.
They gazed upon the sunset; 't is an hour

Dear unto all, but dearest to their eyes,
For it had made them what they were: the power

Of love had first o'erwhelm'd them from such skies,
When happiness had been their only dower,

And twilight saw them link'd in passion's ties; Charm'd with each other, all things charm’d, that brought The past still welcome as the present thought.

XXI.
I know not why, but in that hour to-night,

Even as they gazed, a sudden tremor came,
And swept, as 't were, across their hearts' delight,

Like the wind o'er a harp-string, or a flame,
When one is shook in sound, and one in sight ;

And thus some boding flash'd through either frame,
And call’d from Juan's breast a faint low sigh,
While one new tear arose in Haidee's eye.

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XXII.
That large black prophet eye seem'd to dilate

And follow far the disappearing sun,
As if their last day of a happy date

With his broad, bright, and dropping orb were gone. Juan gazed on her as to ask his fate

He felt a grief, but knowing cause for none,
His glance inquired of hers for some excuse
For feelings causeless, or at least abstruse.

XXIII.
She turn d to him, and smiled, but in that sort

Which makes not others smile ; then turn'd aside :
Whatever feeling shook her, it seem'd short,

And master'd by her wisdom or her pride. When Juan spoke, too_it might be in sport

Of this their mutual feeling, she replied “ If it should be so,-but-it cannot beOr I at least shall not survive to see."

XXIV.
Juan would question further, but she press'd

His lips to hers, and silenced him with this,
And then dismiss'd the omen from her breast,

Defying augury with that fond kiss ;
And no doubt of all methods 't is the best :

Some people prefer wine-—'t is not amiss :
I have tried both ; so those who wou
May chuse between the head-ache and the heart-ache.

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