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Lord Byron (1788–1824). Poetry of Byron. 1881.

II. Descriptive and Narrative

Haidée again

(Don Juan, Canto iii. Stanzas 70–75.)

OF all the dresses I select Haidée’s:

She wore two jelicks—one was of pale yellow;

Of azure, pink, and white was her chemise—

’Neath which her breast heaved like a little billow;

With buttons form’d of pearls as large as peas,

All gold and crimson shone her jelick’s fellow,

And the striped white gauze baracan that bound her

Like fleecy clouds about the moon flow’d round her.

One large gold bracelet clasp’d each lovely arm,

Lockless—so pliable from the pure gold

That the hand stretch’d and shut it without harm,

The limb which it adorn’d its only mould;

So beautiful—its very shape would charm,

And clinging as if loath to lose its hold,

The purest ore enclosed the whitest skin

That e’er by precious metal was held in.

Around, as princess of her father’s land,

A like gold bar above her instep roll’d

Announced her rank; twelve rings were on her hand;

Her hair was starr’d with gems; her veil’s fine fold

Below her breast was fasten’d with a band

Of lavish pearls, whose worth could scarce be told;

Her orange silk full Turkish trousers furl’d

About the prettiest ankle in the world.

Her hair’s long auburn waves down to her heel

Flow’d like an Alpine torrent which the sun

Dyes with his morning light,—and would conceal

Her person if allow’d at large to run,

And still they seem resentfully to feel

The silken fillet’s curb, and sought to shun

Their bonds whene’er some Zephyr caught began

To offer his young pinion as her fan.

Round her she made an atmosphere of life,

The very air seem’d lighter from her eyes,

They were so soft and beautiful, and rife

With all we can imagine of the skies,

And pure as Psyche ere she grew a wife—

Too pure even for the purest human ties;

Her overpowering presence made you feel

It would not be idolatry to kneel.

Her eyelashes, though dark as night, were tinged

(It is the country’s custom), but in vain;

For those large black eyes were so blackly fringed,

The glossy rebels mock’d the jetty stain,

And in their native beauty stood avenged:

Her nails were touch’d with henna; but again

The power of art was turn’d to nothing, for

They could not look more rosy than before.