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Don Juan: Impressions on Canto the Ninth

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  • CARRIE KEELER
    This canto was as smooth to read as a hot knife through butter. And what a cutting start: Oh, Wellington! (or Villanton -- Now *this* is the Byron I
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2000
      This canto was as smooth to read as a hot knife
      through butter. And what a cutting start: "Oh,
      Wellington! (or 'Villanton'--" Now *this* is the
      Byron I love, that "best of cut-throats" engaged in a
      "windpipe-splitting art." He carves up the Wellington
      nicely, pinking him here ("There is no doubt you
      deserve your ration/But pray give back a little to the
      nation"), shaving him there ("he may like being
      praised for every lucky blunder"), slicing him once
      ("And I shall be delighted who/Save you and yours have
      gained by Waterloo"), again ("your Sabine farm"), and
      yet again ("You *did great* things, but not being
      *great* in mind/Have left *undone* the *greatest*--and
      mankind").

      Ouch!

      But Byron, being Byron, dices up the rest of society,
      too: the average ("It is not that I adulate the
      people:/Without *me* there are demagogues enough...I
      wish men to be free/As much from mobs as kings--from
      you as me"), the advisors ("Your wise men don't know
      much of navigation;/And swimming long in the abyss of
      thought/is apt to tire"), and everyone all together
      ("And deem, because we *see,* we are *all-seeing.*")

      Ouch!

      "And thus death laughs--it is sad merriment/But still
      it is so." And so, too, Byron sometimes laughs--it is
      sad merriment, but still it is so.

      A favorite by which to close:

      "the next grand/Is that which may be christened love
      canonical/Because the clergy take the thing in hand"
      Yikes!

      See ya,
      Carrie

      =====
      "I am afraid that my natural idleness will in the end get the better of what little ambition I have." Charles James Fox

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