Don Juan by George Gordon Byron, T. Steffan

By George Gordon Byron, T. Steffan

Byron's exuberant masterpiece tells of the adventures of Don Juan, starting along with his illicit love affair on the age of 16 in his local Spain and his next exile to Italy. Following a dramatic shipwreck, his exploits take him to Greece, the place he's bought as a slave, and to Russia, the place he turns into a favourite of the Empress Catherine who sends him directly to England. Written in ottava rima stanza shape, Byron's Don Juan blends excessive drama with earthy humor, outrageous satire of his contemporaries, and sharp mockery of Western societies, with England coming below specific assault.

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Sample text

T H E MEANING OF SIMPLICITY I hide behind simple things so you'll find me; if you don't find me, you'll find the things, you'll touch what my hand has touched, our hand-prints will merge. T h e August moon glitters in the kitchen like a tin-plated pot (it gets that way because of what I'm saying to you), it lights u p the empty house and the house's kneeling silence— always the silence remains kneeling. Every word is a doorway to a meeting, one often cancelled, and that's when a word is true: when it insists on the meeting.

3. Why L· it our fault? Under your tongue are the delicate sprigs of brill, seeds from grapes and peach fibers. In the shade cast by your eyelashes there is warm country. I can lie down and rest myself unquestioning, he said. Now what does it mean, this "farther ahead"? Why is it your fault, unsuspecting, for staying among the leaves— beautiful, simple, in the golden shape of your heat? And why is it my fault for going ahead in the night, captive in my freedom, he said, the punished one punishing?

At the far end an unknown face, a sound—your voice? Your voice distrusted your ear. The next day the sun climbed down the fields, like a descent of farmers with sickles and pitchforks. You came out into the road shouting, not knowing what you were shouting, stopping a moment with a smile under your voice as under the pink, radiant umbrella of a woman sauntering along the railing of a park. There you recognized abruptly that this was your true voice in accord with all the unsuspecting voices filling the air.

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