Lord George Gordon Byron

Here you will find the Long Poem Don Juan: Dedication of poet Lord George Gordon Byron

Don Juan: Dedication

Difficile est proprie communia dicere 
 HOR. Epist. ad PisonI 
 Bob Southey! You're a poet--Poet-laureate, 
 And representative of all the race; 
 Although 'tis true that you turn'd out a Tory at 
 Last--yours has lately been a common case; 
 And now, my Epic Renegade! what are ye at? 
 With all the Lakers, in and out of place? 
 A nest of tuneful persons, to my eye 
 Like "four and twenty Blackbirds in a pye;II 
 "Which pye being open'd they began to sing" 
 (This old song and new simile holds good), 
 "A dainty dish to set before the King," 
 Or Regent, who admires such kind of food; 
 And Coleridge, too, has lately taken wing, 
 But like a hawk encumber'd with his hood, 
 Explaining Metaphysics to the nation-- 
 I wish he would explain his Explanation.III 

 You, Bob! are rather insolent, you know, 
 At being disappointed in your wish 
 To supersede all warblers here below, 
 And be the only Blackbird in the dish; 
 And then you overstrain yourself, or so, 
 And tumble downward like the flying fish 
 Gasping on deck, because you soar too high, Bob, 
 And fall, for lack of moisture quite a-dry, Bob!IV 

 And Wordsworth, in a rather long "Excursion" 
 (I think the quarto holds five hundred pages), 
 Has given a sample from the vasty version 
 Of his new system to perplex the sages; 
 'Tis poetry--at least by his assertion, 
 And may appear so when the dog-star rages-- 
 And he who understands it would be able 
 To add a story to the Tower of Babel.V 

 You--Gentlemen! by dint of long seclusion 
 From better company, have kept your own 
 At Keswick, and, through still continu'd fusion 
 Of one another's minds, at last have grown 
 To deem as a most logical conclusion, 
 That Poesy has wreaths for you alone: 
 There is a narrowness in such a notion, 
 Which makes me wish you'd change your lakes for Ocean.VI 

 I would not imitate the petty thought, 
 Nor coin my self-love to so base a vice, 
 For all the glory your conversion brought, 
 Since gold alone should not have been its price. 
 You have your salary; was't for that you wrought? 
 And Wordsworth has his place in the Excise. 
 You're shabby fellows--true--but poets still, 
 And duly seated on the Immortal Hill.VII 

 Your bays may hide the baldness of your brows-- 
 Perhaps some virtuous blushes--let them go-- 
 To you I envy neither fruit nor boughs-- 
 And for the fame you would engross below, 
 The field is universal, and allows 
 Scope to all such as feel the inherent glow: 
 Scott, Rogers, Campbell, Moore and Crabbe, will try 
 'Gainst you the question with posterity.VIII 

 For me, who, wandering with pedestrian Muses, 
 Contend not with you on the winged steed, 
 I wish your fate may yield ye, when she chooses, 
 The fame you envy, and the skill you need; 
 And, recollect, a poet nothing loses 
 In giving to his brethren their full meed 
 Of merit, and complaint of present days 
 Is not the certain path to future praise.IX 

 He that reserves his laurels for posterity 
 (Who does not often claim the bright reversion) 
 Has generally no great crop to spare it, he 
 Being only injur'd by his own assertion; 
 And although here and there some glorious rarity 
 Arise like Titan from the sea's immersion, 
 The major part of such appellants go 
 To--God knows where--for no one else can know.X 

 If, fallen in evil days on evil tongues, 
 Milton appeal'd to the Avenger, Time, 
 If Time, the Avenger, execrates his wrongs, 
 And makes the word "Miltonic" mean " sublime ," 
 He deign'd not to belie his soul in songs, 
 Nor turn his very talent to a crime; 
 He did not loathe the Sire to laud the Son, 
 But clos'd the tyrant-hater he begun.XI 

 Think'st thou, could he--the blind Old Man--arise 
 Like Samuel from the grave, to freeze once more 
 The blood of monarchs with his prophecies 
 Or be alive again--again all hoar 
 With time and trials, and those helpless eyes, 
 And heartless daughters--worn--and pale--and poor; 
 Would he adore a sultan? he obey 
 The intellectual eunuch Castlereagh?XII 

 Cold-blooded, smooth-fac'd, placid miscreant! 
 Dabbling its sleek young hands in Erin's gore, 
 And thus for wider carnage taught to pant, 
 Transferr'd to gorge upon a sister shore, 
 The vulgarest tool that Tyranny could want, 
 With just enough of talent, and no more, 
 To lengthen fetters by another fix'd, 
 And offer poison long already mix'd.XIII 

 An orator of such set trash of phrase 
 Ineffably--legitimately vile, 
 That even its grossest flatterers dare not praise, 
 Nor foes--all nations--condescend to smile, 
 Not even a sprightly blunder's spark can blaze 
 From that Ixion grindstone's ceaseless toil,