Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Extracts from Don Juan: First Love
By Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
[From Canto I.]

                    ’TIS sweet to hear
  At midnight on the blue and moonlit deep
The song and oar of Adria’s gondolier,
  By distance mellow’d, o’er the waters sweep;
’Tis sweet to see the evening star appear;        5
  ’Tis sweet to listen as the night-winds creep
From leaf to leaf; ’tis sweet to view on high
The rainbow, based on ocean, span the sky.
 
’Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog’s honest bark
  Bay deep-mouth’d welcome as we draw near home;        10
’Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark
  Our coming, and look brighter when we come;
’Tis sweet to be awaken’d by the lark,
  Or lull’d by falling waters; sweet the hum
Of bees, the voice of girls, the song of birds,        15
The lisp of children, and their earliest words.
 
Sweet is the vintage, when the showering grapes
  In Bacchanal profusion reel to earth,
Purple and gushing; sweet are our escapes
  From civic revelry to rural mirth;        20
Sweet to the miser are his glittering heaps,
  Sweet to the father is his first-born’s birth,
Sweet is revenge—especially to women,
Pillage to soldiers, prize-money to seamen.
 
Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet        25
  The unexpected death of some old lady
Or gentleman of seventy years complete,
  Who ’ve made ‘us youth’ wait too—too long already
For an estate, or cash, or country seat,
  Still breaking, but with stamina so steady        30
That all the Israelites are fit to mob its
Next owner for their double-damn’d post-obits.
 
’Tis sweet to win, no matter how, one’s laurels,
  By blood or ink; ’tis sweet to put an end
To strife; ’tis sometimes sweet to have our quarrels,        35
  Particularly with a tiresome friend:
Sweet is old wine in bottles, ale in barrels;
  Dear is the helpless creature we defend
Against the world; and dear the schoolboy spot
We ne’er forget, though there we are forgot.        40
 
But sweeter still than this, than these, than all,
  Is first and passionate love—it stands alone.
Like Adam’s recollection of his fall;
  The tree of knowledge has been pluck’d—all ’s known—
And life yields nothing further to recall        45
  Worthy of this ambrosial sin, so shown,
No doubt in fable, as the unforgiven
Fire which Prometheus filch’d for us from heaven.
 
 
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