Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
VI. Lovers
First Love
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
 
From “Don Juan,” Canto I.

                    ’T IS sweet to hear,
  At midnight on the blue and moonlit deep,
The song and oar of Adria’s gondolier,
  By distance mellowed, o’er the waters sweep;
’T is sweet to see the evening star appear;        5
  ’T is sweet to listen as the night-winds creep
From leaf to leaf; ’t is sweet to view on high
The rainbow, based on ocean, span the sky.
 
’T is sweet to hear the watch-dog’s honest bark
  Bay deep-mouthed welcome as we draw near home;        10
’T is sweet to know there is an eye will mark
  Our coming, and look brighter when we come;
’T is sweet to be awakened by the lark,
  Or lulled 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.
*        *        *        *        *
’T is sweet to win, no matter how, one’s laurels,        25
  By blood or ink; ’t is sweet to put an end
To strife; ’t is sometimes sweet to have our quarrels,
  Particularly with a tiresome friend;
Sweet is old wine in bottles, ale in barrels;
  Dear is the helpless creature we defend        30
Against the world; and dear the schoolboy spot
We ne’er forget, though there we are forgot.
 
But sweeter still than this, than these, than all,
  Is first and passionate love,—it stands alone,
Like Adam’s recollection of his fall;        35
  The tree of knowledge has been plucked,—all ’s known,—
And life yields nothing further to recall
  Worthy of this ambrosial sin, so shown,
No doubt in fable, as the unforgiven
Fire which Prometheus filched for us from heaven.        40
 
 
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