Home  »  Poetry of Byron  »  Italy

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

IV. Satiric


(Beppo, Stanzas 41–45.)

WITH all its sinful doings, I must say,

That Italy’s a pleasant place to me,

Who love to see the Sun shine every day,

And vines (not nail’d to walls) from tree to tree

Festoon’d, much like the back scene of a play,

Or melodrame, which people flock to see,

When the first act is ended by a dance

In vineyards copied from the south of France.

I like on Autumn evenings to ride out,

Without being forced to bid my groom be sure

My cloak is round his middle strapp’d about,

Because the skies are not the most secure;

I know too that, if stopp’d upon my route,

Where the green alleys windingly allure,

Reeling with grapes red waggons choke the way,—

In England ’twould be dung, dust, or a dray.

I also like to dine on becaficas,

To see the Sun set, sure he’ll rise to-morrow,

Not through a misty morning, twinkling weak as

A drunken man’s dead eye in maudlin sorrow,

But with all Heaven t’himself; that day will break as

Beauteous as cloudless, not be forced to borrow

That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers

Where reeking London’s smoky caldron simmers.

I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,

Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,

And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,

With syllables which breathe of the sweet South,

And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in,

That not a single accent seems uncouth,

Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting guttural,

Which we’re obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all.

I like the women too (forgive my folly),

From the rich peasant cheek of ruddy bronze,

And large black eyes that flash on you a volley

Of rays that say a thousand things at once,

To the high dama’s brow, more melancholy,

But clear, and with a wild and liquid glance,

Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,

Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.