Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
Haidée and Don Juan
By Lord Byron (1788–1824)
(From Don Juan: Canto II. 1819)

IT was the cooling hour, just when the rounded
  Red sun sinks down behind the azure hill,
Which then seems as if the whole earth it bounded,
  Circling all nature, hushed, and dim, and still,
With the far mountain-crescent half surrounded        5
  On one side, and the deep sea calm and chill,
Upon the other, and the rosy sky,
With one star sparkling through it like an eye.
And thus they wandered forth, and hand in hand,
  Over the shining pebbles and the shells,        10
Glided along the smooth and hardened sand,
  And in the worn and wild receptacles
Worked by the storms, yet worked as it were planned,
  In hollow halls, with sparry roofs and cells,
They turned to rest; and, each clasped by an arm,        15
Yielded to the deep twilight’s purple charm.
They looked up to the sky, whose floating glow
  Spread like a rosy ocean, vast and bright;
They gazed upon the glittering sea below,
  Whence the broad moon rose circling into sight;        20
They heard the waves splash, and the wind so low,
  And saw each other’s dark eyes darting light
Into each other—and, beholding this,
Their lips drew near, and clung into a kiss;
A long, long kiss, a kiss of youth, and love,
  And beauty, all concentrating like rays
Into one focus, kindled from above;
  Such kisses as belong to early days,
Where heart, and soul, and sense, in concert move,
  And the blood’s lava, and the pulse a blaze,        30
Each kiss a heart-quake,—for a kiss’s strength,
I think it must be reckoned by its length.
By length I mean duration; theirs endured
  Heaven knows how long—no doubt they never reckoned;
And if they had, they could not have secured        35
  The sum of their sensations to a second:
They had not spoken, but they felt allured,
  As if their souls and lips each other beckoned,
Which, being joined, like swarming bees they clung—
Their hearts the flowers from whence the honey sprung.        40
They were alone, but not alone as they
  Who shut in chambers think it loneliness;
The silent ocean, and the starlight bay,
  The twilight glow, which momently grew less,
The voiceless sands, and dropping caves, that lay        45
  Around them, made them to each other press,
As if there were no life beneath the sky
Save theirs, and that their life could never die.
They feared no eyes nor ears on that lone beach,
  They felt no terrors from the night; they were        50
All in all to each other; though their speech
  Was broken words, they thought a language there,—
And all the burning tongues the Passions teach
  Found in one sigh the best interpreter
Of nature’s oracle—first love,—that all        55
Which Eve has left her daughters since her fall.
Haidée spoke not of scruples, asked no vows,
  Nor offered any; she had never heard
Of plight and promises to be a spouse,
  Or perils by a loving maid incurred;        60
She was all which pure ignorance allows,
  And flew to her young mate like a young bird,
And never having dreamt of falsehood, she
Had not one word to say of constancy.
She loved, and was beloved—she adored,
  And she was worshipped; after nature’s fashion,
Their intense souls, into each other poured,
  If souls could die, had perished in that passion,—
But by degrees their senses were restored,
  Again to be o’ercome, again to dash on;        70
And, beating ’gainst his bosom, Haidée’s heart
Felt as if never more to beat apart.
Alas! they were so young, so beautiful,
  So lonely, loving, helpless, and the hour
Was that in which the heart is always full,        75
  And, having o’er itself no further power,
Prompts deeds eternity cannot annul,
  But pays off moments in an endless shower
Of hell-fire—all prepared for people giving
Pleasure or pain to one another living.        80
Alas! for Juan and Haidée! they were
  So loving and so lovely—till then never,
Excepting our first parents, such a pair
  Had run the risk of being damned for ever;
And Haidée, being devout as well as fair,        85
  Had, doubtless, heard about the Stygian river,
And hell and purgatory—but forgot
Just in the very crisis she should not.
They look upon each other, and their eyes
  Gleam in the moonlight; and her white arm clasps        90
Round Juan’s head, and his around her lies
  Half buried in the tresses which it grasps;
She sits upon his knee, and drinks his sighs,
  He hers, until they end in broken gasps;
And thus they form a group that ’s quite antique,        95
Half naked, loving, natural, and Greek.
And when those deep and burning moments passed,
  And Juan sunk to sleep within her arms,
She slept not, but all tenderly, though fast,
  Sustained his head upon her bosom’s charms;        100
And now and then her eye to heaven is cast,
  And then on the pale cheek her breast now warms,
Pillowed on her o’erflowing heart, which pants
With all it granted, and with all it grants.
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