"The Devil's In The Moon For Mischief"

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Last Updated on June 3, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 295

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Context: Don Juan, now growing up, is "Tall, handsome, slender, but well knit: . . ." Since his father's death he has been in the charge of his mother, who, remembering her late lord's frailties, has provided, as his sole companions, the households ancient maids, his tutors and confessor, and, (alas! for ". . . a breeding . . . strictly moral") her lovely friend, Donna Julia, a young wife of twenty-three, who, when Juan was younger ". . . saw, and, as a pretty child,/ Caress'd him often– . . ." But now the pretty child is suddenly sixteen, and a subtle change takes place. Donna Julia is blushingly selfconscious, while Juan broods in the "lonely wood,/ Tormented with a wound he [cannot] know, . . ." One summer's day toward evening, the two find themselves together in a sequestered bower, Donna Julia full of honor, virtue, and resolve never to disgrace the marriage ring she wears; Juan, as is love's way when it is new, tremblingly fearful lest he do wrong as in gratitude he kisses the little hand so carelessly placed on his. And then the moon comes up.

The sun set, and up rose the yellow moon:
The devil's in the moon for mischief; they
Who call'd her CHASTE, methinks, began too soon
Their nomenclature; there is not a day,
The longest, not the twenty-first of June,
Sees half the business in a wicked way,
On which three single hours of moonshine smile–
On them she looks so modest all the while.
There is a dangerous silence in that hour,
A stillness, which leaves room for the full soul
To open all itself, without the power
Of calling wholly back its self-control;
The silver light which, hallowing tree and tower,
Sheds beauty and deep softness o'er the whole,
Breathes also to the heart, and o'er it throws
A loving languor, which is not repose.


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