"Sermons And Soda-water"

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Last Updated on June 3, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 310

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Context: Lord Byron's precocious hero, Don Juan, has already, at sixteen, succeeded in causing a divorce and one of the most notorious scandals in all Spain. For his waywardness he has been banished from his homeland and packed off to sea accompanied by his mother's expectations that the salt air will wean him from the ways–especially amorous–of the world and restore his lost innocence. Alas! for this moral lady's hopes, a great storm comes up and dashes to destruction the ship and its company, all except for Juan, whom it deposits half-drowned on an island shore. Along the beach, with her maid, comes the beautiful Haidée, "The greatest heiress of the Eastern Isles." The two ladies find the battered castaway unconscious on the sand, place him in a cave, and nurse him back to health. Inevitably the handsome youth and his lovely rescuer fall in love. The poet describes the "wild and breaker-beaten coast" along which the lovers walk, and then pauses to digress a bit. (Sermons and Soda-water has been used as the title for a volume of short stories by the contemporary John O'Hara.)

It was a wild and breaker-beaten coast,
With cliffs above, and a broad sandy shore
Guarded by shoals and rocks as by an host,
With here and there a creek, whose aspect wore
A better welcome to the tempest-tost;
And rarely ceased the haughty billow's roar,
Save on the dead long summer days, which make
The outstretch'd ocean glitter like a lake.
And the small ripple spilt upon the beach
Scarcely o'erpassed the cream of your champagne,
When o'er the brim the sparkling bumpers reach,
That spring-dew of the spirit! the heart's rain!
Few things surpass old wine; and they may preach
Who please,–the more because they preach in vain,–
Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter,
Sermons and soda-water the day after.


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