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LXXVII. High barrows, without marble or a name, A vast, untill'd, and mountain-skirted plain, And Ida in the distance, still the same,
And old Scamander (if 'tis he), remain;
Troops of untended horses; here and there
Whom to the spot their school-boy feelings bear;
"And then there are the dancers; there's the Nini,
But spends so fast, she has not now a paul; And then there's the Grotesca-such a dancer! Where men have souls or bodies, she must answer. LXXXV.
"As for the figuranti, they are like
The rest of all that tribe; with here and there A pretty person, which perhaps may strike, The rest are hardly fitted for a fair;
There's one, though tall, and stiffer than a pike, Yet has a sentimental kind of air,
Which might go far, but she don't dance with vigour, Are what I found there-but the devil a Phrygian. The more's the pity, with her face and figure.
Don Juan, here permitted to emerge
From his dull cabin, found himself a slave; Forlorn, and gazing on the deep-blue surge,
O'ershadow'd there by many a hero's grave: Weak still with loss of blood, he scarce could urge A few brief questions; and the answers gave No very satisfactory information
About his past or present situation.
He saw some fellow-captives, who appear'd
Which was an odd one; a troop going to act
In Sicily-all singers, duly rear'd
In their vocation,-had not been attack'd,
By one of these, the buffo of the party,
Juan was told about their curious case;
And bore him with some gaiety and grace,
In a few words he told their hapless story,
Hail'd a strange brig; Corpo di Caio Mario!
"The prima donra, though a little old,
And haggard with a dissipated life,
Has some good notes; and then the tenor's wife,
Last carnival she made a deal of strife, By carrying off Count Cesar Cicogna, From an o'd Roman princess at Bologna.
"As for the men, they are a middling set; The Musico is but a crack'd o.a basin,
But, being qualified in one way yet,
May the seraglio do to set his face in, And as a servant some preferment get;
His singing I no further trust can place in: From all the pope makes yearly, 't would perplex To find three perfect pipes of the third sex.
"The tenor's voice is spoilt by affectation,
An ignorant, noteless, timeless, tuneless fellow, But being the prima donna's near relation,
Who swore his voice was very rich and mellow, They hired him, though to hear him you'd believe An ass was practising recitative.
""T would not become myself to dwell upon
My own merits, and though young-I see, sir-you Have got a travell'd air, which shows you one To whom the opera is by no means new: You've heard of Raucocanti ?-I'm the man;
The time may come when you may hear me too; You was not last year at the fair of Lugo, But next, when I'm engaged to sing there-do go. LXXXIX.
"Our barytone I almost had forgot,
A pretty lad, but bursting with conceit; With graceful action, science not a jot,
A voice of no great compass, and not sweet, He always is complaining of his lot,
Forsooth, scarce fit for ballads in the street;
Here Raucocanti's eloquent recital
Who came at stated moments to invite all
The captives back to their sad births; each threw A rueful glance upon the waves (which bright all, From the blue skies derived a double blue, Dancing all free and happy in the sun), And then went down the hatchway one by one
'They heard, next day, that in the Dardanelles,
Lady to lady, well as man to man,
It seems when this allotment was made out,
If the soprano might be doom'd to be male,
Were link'd together, and it happen'd the male Was Juan, who-an awkward thing at his agePair'd off with a Bacchante's blooming visage. XCIII.
With Raucocanti lucklessly was chain'd
The tenor; these two hated with a hate
Instead of bearing up without debate,
Juan's companion was a Romagnole,
But bred within the March of old Ancona,
(And other chief points of a "bella donna"),
But all that power was wasted upon him,
For sorrow o'er each sense held stern command;
No matter; we should ne'er too much inquire,
We will omit the proofs, save one or two.
Here I might enter on a chaste description,
At the first two books having too much truth;
'Tis all the same to me, I'm fond of yielding,
Who say strange things for so correct an age;
As boys love rows, my boyhood liked a squabble;
Whether my verse's fame be doom'd to cease
Of poets, who come down to us through distance
And so great names are nothing more than nominal,
Too often in its fury overcoming all
Who would, as 't were, identify their dust
The very generations of the dead
Are swept away, and tomb inherits tomb,
And, buried, sinks beneath its offspring's doon.
Save a few glean'd from the sepulchral gloom, Which once-named myriads nameless lie beneath, And lose their own in universal death.
I canter by the spot each afternoon
Where perish'd in his fame the hero-boy, Who lived too long for men, but died too soon For human vanity, the young De Foix!
A broken pillar not uncouthly hewn,
But which neglect is hastening to destroy,
I pass each day where Dante's bones are laid;
The chieftain's trophy and the poet's volume,
With human blood that column was cemented,
Should ever be those blood-hounds, from whose wild
Yet there will still be bards; though fame is smoke, Its fumes are frankincense to human thought; And the unquiet feelings, which first woke
Song in the world, will seek what then they sought; As on the beach the waves at last are broke, Thus to their extreme verge the passions brought, Dash into poetry, which is but passion, Or at least was so ere it grew a fashion.
If in the course of such a life as was
At once adventurous and contemplative, Men who partake all passions as they pass, Acquire the deep and bitter power to give Their images again, as in a glass,
And in such colours that they seem to live; You may do right forbidding them to show 'em, But spoil (I think) a very pretty poem.
Oh! ye, who make the fortunes of all books!
Those Cornish plunderers of Parnassian wrecks?
What, can I prove "a lion" then no more?
And sigh "I can't get out," like Yorick's starling. Why then I'll swear, as poet Wordy swore
(Because the world won't read him, always snarling), That taste is gone, that fame is but a lottery, Drawn by the blue-coat misses of a coterie. CX.
Oh! "darkly, deeply, beautifully blue,"
As some one somewhere sings about the sky, And I, ye learned ladies, say of you;
They say your stockings are so (Heaven knows why, I have examined few pair of that hue); Blue as the garters which serenely lie Round the patrician left-iegs, which adorn The festal midnight and the levee morn. CXI.
Yet some of you are most seraphic creatures-
For sometimes such a world of virtues cover;
CXII. Humboldt, "the first of travellers," but not The last, if late accounts be accurate, Invented, by some name I have forgot, As well as the sublime discovery's date, An airy instrument, with which he sought To ascertain the atmospheric state, By measuring "the intensity of blue:" Oh, Lady Daphne! let me measure you! CXIII.
But to the narrative.-The vessel bound With slaves to sell off in the capital, After the usual process, might be found
At anchor under the seraglio wall;
Some went off dearly: fifteen hundred dollars
Had deck'd her out in all the hues of heaven:
Twelve negresses from Nubia brought a price
Is always much more splendid than a king:
But for the destiny of this young troop,
How some were bought by pachas, some by Jews, How some to burdens were obliged to stoop,
And others rose to the command of crews As renegadoes; while in hapless group,
Hoping no very old vizier might choose, The females stood, as one by one they pick'd 'em, To make a mistress, or fourth wife, or victim.
All this must be reserved for further song;
But could not for the muse of me put less in 't •
WHEN amatory poets sing their loves
In liquid lines mellifluously bland,
And praise their rhymes as Venus yokes her doves,
They little think what mischief is in hand;
The greater their success the worse it proves,
As Ovid's verse may make you understand; Even Petrarch's self, if judged with due severity, Is the Platonic pimp of all posterity.
I therefore do denounce all amorous writing,
The European with the Asian shore
Sprinkled with palaces; the ocean stream,' Here and there studded with a seventy-four; Sophia's cupola with golden gleam;
The cypress groves; Olympus high and hoar; The twelve isles, and the more than I could dream, Far less describe, present the view very Which charm'd the charming Mary Montagu.
I have a passion for the name of "Mary,"
All feelings changed, but this was last to vary,
A spell from which even yet I am not quite free: But I grow sad-and let a tale grow cold, Which must not be pathetically told.
The wind swept down the Euxine and the wave
A crowd of shivering slaves of every nation,
Juan was juvenile, and thus was full,
As most at his age are, of hope, and health; Yet I must own he look'd a little dull,
And now and then a tear stole down by stealth; Perhaps his recent loss of blood might pull
His spirit down; and then the loss of wealth,
Were things to shake a stoic; ne'ertheless,
Like a backgammon-board the place was dotted
Some bought the jet, while others chose the pale.
He had an English look; that is, was square
One arm had on a bandage rather bloody;
But seeing at his elbow a mere lad,
Of a high spirit evidently, though At present weigh'd down by a doom which had O'erthrown even men, he soon began to show A kind of blunt compassion for the sad
Lot of so young a partner in the woe, Which for himself he seem'd to deem no worse
Turns up more dangerous breakers than the Euxine.Than any other scrape, a thing of course.
"I'was a raw day of Autumn's bleak beginning, When nights are equal, but not so the days; The Parc then cut short the further spinning Of seamen's fates, and the loud tempests raise The waters, and repentance for past sinning
In all who o'er the great deep take their ways: They vow to amend their lives, and yet they don't; Because if drown'd, they can't—if spared, they won't.
"My boy!"-said he, "amidst this motley crew Of Georgians, Russians, Nubians, and what not, All ragamuffins differing but in hue.
With whom it is our luck to cast our lot, The only gentlemen seem I and you,
So let us be acquainted, as we ought: If I could yield you any consolation, 'T would give me pleasure.—Pray, what is your nation?”
When Juan answer'd "Spanish!" he replied,
Fortune has play'd you here a pretty freak,
"Pray, sir," said Juan, "if I may presume,
What brought you here?”—“Oh! nothing very rareSix Tartars and a drag-chain""To this doom
By what conducted, if the question's fair,
Is that which I would learn."-"I served for some
"Have you no friends?"-"I had-but, by God's blessing,
And long besides."—"Oh! if 't is really so,
"But droop not: Fortune, at your time of life,
"'Tis not," said Juan, "for my present doom
"On the rough deep. But this last blow-" and here
"My third"-"Your third!" quoth Juan, turning round;
One person thrice in holy wedlock bound!"
"Well, then, your third," said Juan; "what did she? She did not run away, too, did she, sir?"
"You take things coolly, sir," said Juan. "Why,"
But mine have vanish'd. All, when life is new,
"Tis true, it gets another bright and fresh,
The glittering lime-twigs of our latter days,
"All this is very fine, and may be true,"
Said Juan; "but I really don't see how
"Would we were masters now, if but to try
"Perhaps we shall be one day, by and by,"
Rejoin'd the other, "when our bad luck mends here,
"But after all, what is our present state?
'Tis bad, and may be better-all men's lot.
Kindness, destroys what little we had got:
Just now a black old neutral personage
Of the third sex stepp'd up, and peering over
If they were fitted for the purposed cage:
As is a slave by his intended bidder.
'Tis pleasant purchasing our fellow-creatures; And ali are to be sold, if you consider
Their passions, and are dext'rous; some by features Are bought up, others by a warlike leader,
Some by a place-as tend their years or natures The most by ready cash-but all have prices,
"No, faith."—"What then?”—“I ran away from her." From crowns to kicks, according to their vices.