Don Juan

Poems about Don Juan


(Don Juan playlist) **Art: Don Juan and Haydee by Alfred Roll, depicting a scene from Byron’s poem where Don Juan has washed up on the beach of Cyclades (a Greek Island) after a shipwreck, and is ministered to by Haidée and her maid Zoe (source)

“Toujours” (Always) by Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki) (1880-1918; Rome, Italy / Paris, France; playwright, short-story writer, novelist, art-critic; Surrealism) [tr. Donald Revell]
– from The Yale Anthology of Twentieth Century French Poetry

Nous irons plus loin sans advancer jamais

 Et de planète en planète
De nébuleuse en nébuleuse
Le don Juan des mille et rois comètes
Même sans bouger de la terre
Cherche les forces neuves
Et prend au sérieux les fantômes (…)

We’ll go even further never advancing

From planet to planet
Nebula to nebula
Never leaving the ground
The Don Juan of 1003 comets
Seeks new forces
Takes spooks seriously (…)

“Don Juan’s Spaniel” from Don Juan: Canto II (LVIII; LXX-LXXII) (1823-1824) by George Gordon Byron, Lord (1788-1824; London, England; politician, soldier, epic poet)
– from The Dog in British Poetry

A small old spaniel,—which had been Don Jose’s,
His father’s, whom he loved, as ye may think,
For on such things the memory reposes
With tenderness — stood howling on the brink,
Knowing (dogs have such intellectual noses!),
No doubt, the vessel was about to sink;
And Juan caught him up, and ere he stepp’d
Off, threw him in, then after him he leap’d.
*             *               *            *
The fourth day came, but not a breath of air,
And Ocean slumber’d like an unwean’d child:
The fifth day, and their boat lay floating there,
The sea and sky were blue, and clear, and mild–
With their one oar (I wish they had had a pair)
What could they do? and Hunger’s rage grew wild:
So Juan’s spaniel, spite of his entreating,
Was kill’d, and portion’d out for present eating.

On the sixth day they fed upon his hide,
And Juan, who had still refus’d, because
The creature was his father’s dog that died,
Now feeling all the vulture in his jaws,
With some remorse receiv’d (though first denied)
As a great favour one of the fore-paws,
Which he divided with Pedrillo, who
Devour’d it, longing for the other too.

“Alas, they were so young, so beautiful” (full text) [the story of Don Juan and Haidee runs through Cantos II-IV] from Don Juan: Canto II (1823-1824) by George Gordon Byron, Lord (1788-1824; London, England; politican, soldier, epic poet)
– from Erotic Literature: Twenty-Four Centuries of Sensual Writing

Alas! they were so young, so beautiful,
So lonely, loving, helpless, and the hour
Was that in which the heart is always full,
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.

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,
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
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,
Half naked, loving, natural, and Greek.

And when those deep and burning moments pass’d,
And Juan sunk to sleep within her arms,
She slept not, but all tenderly, though fast,
Sustain’d his head upon her bosom’s charms;
And now and then her eye to heaven is cast,
And then on the pale cheek her breast now warms,
Pillow’d on her o’erflowing heart, which pants
With all it granted, and with all it grants. (…)

“De plus en plus femme” (More and More Woman) by Pierre-Jean Jouve (1887-1976; Arras, France; writer, novelist) [tr. Mary Ann Caws]
– from The Yale Anthology of Twentieth Century French Poetry

Oui féminine et grasse et vermeille
Je me suis vu sur le sommier écartelé
Pour recevoir l’hôte de pierre
Lèvres! celui que je suis et que je hais

J’étais cave et j’étais mouillée
De bonheurs montant plus laves que le lait
Que retiennent les étoiles de ma gorge
Et j’arrivais disais-je à cette mort exquise

Je me relevais fécondé.

Yes feminine and fat and scarlet
I saw myself spread on the mattress
To receive the stone guest
Lips! The one I am and hate

I was hollow and I was wet
With rising joy more lava than milk
Retaining the stars of my breast
And I reached I said this exquisite death

Fecund I stood up once more.

“Don Juan’s Note Book” by Harry Kemp

TO lose in love, Love holds the least of crimes;
Even I, Don Juan, was crossed in love at times….
Be calm in everything you do or say—
The sudden motion scares the bird away …
Wait till you see she wants you, then be bold:             5
Your force is now increased a hundredfold …
Though you pretend to hang on every phrase,
Don’t listen to her words, but to her face;
Hear her eyes’ “yes” when her lips falter “no”—
And then be quick—for love blows cold when slow:                 10
Though Woman yearns to make the sacrifice,
Snatch at the moment or you’ll lose the prize […]

“Don Juan (After He’d Consumed Tons of Lipstick)” by Marin Sorescu (1936-1997; Bulzești, Dolj County, Romania; playwright, prose writer, essayist, translator) [tr. Adam J. Sorkin]
– from The Poetry of Men’s Lives: An International Anthology

După ce le-a mâncat tone de ruj,
Înşelate în aşteptările lor cele mai sfinte,
Au găsit mijlocul să se răzbune
Pe Don Juan.

În fiecare dimineaţă,
În faţa oglinzii,
După ce îşi creionează sprâncenele,
Îşi fac buzele
Cu şoricioaică,
Pun şoricioaică în păr,
Pe umerii albi, în ochi, pe gânduri,
Pe sâni,
Şi aşteaptă.

Ies albe în balcoane,
Îl caută prin parcuri,
Dar Don Juan, cuprins parcă de-o presimţire,
S-a făcut şoarece de bibliotecă.

After he’d consumed tons of lipstick,
The women,
Cheated of their holiest expectations,
Discovered a means of revenging themselves
On Don Juan.

Each morning,
Before the mirror,
When they’ve penciled on their eyebrows,
They paint their lips
With rat poison,
They daub rat poison on their hair,
On white shoulders, on eyes, on thoughts,
On breasts,
And they wait.

They show themselves white on balconies,
They search through parks,
But Don Juan, as though forewarned,
Has turned into a bookworm in the library. (…)

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