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

IV. Satiric


(Don Juan, Canto xvi. Stanzas 96–98.)

——————JUAN, when he cast a glance

On Adeline while playing her grand rôle,

Which she went through as though it were a dance

(Betraying only now and then her soul

By a look scarce perceptibly askance

Of weariness or scorn), began to feel

Some doubt how much of Adeline was real;

So well she acted all and every part

By turns—with that vivacious versatility,

Which many people take for want of heart.

They err—’tis merely what is call’d mobility,

A thing of temperament—and not of art,

Though seeming so from its supposed facility;

And false—though true; for surely they’re sincerest

Who are strongly acted on by what is nearest.

This makes your actors, artists, and romancers,

Heroes sometimes, though seldom—sages never;

But speakers, bards, diplomatists, and dancers,

Little that’s great, but much of what is clever;

Most orators, but very few financiers,

Though all Exchequer chancellors endeavour,

Of late years, to dispense with Cocker’s rigours,

And grow quite figurative with their figures.