11/05/2021     |     Literature

Don Juan, Canto X

Canto X of Byron's famous poem sees hero Juan travel to London from Russia and marvel at the "mighty mass of brick, of smoke, and shipping". This short film by Joshua Black starring Isaac Money offers a contemporary view on that moment as curious and mischievous as the poem's notorious creator.

"Don Juan, Canto X" (stanzas 81, 82)
by Lord Byron

THE SUN went down, the smoke rose up as from
A half-unquench’d volcano, o’er a space
Which well beseem’d the “Devil’s drawing-room,”
As some have qualified that wondrous place:
But Juan felt, though not approaching home,
As one who, though he were not of the race,
Revered the soil, of those true sons the mother,
Who butcher’d half the earth, and bullied t’other.

A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,
Dirty and dusky, but as wide as eye
Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping
In sight, then lost amidst the forestry
Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping
On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy;
A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown
On a fool’s head—and there is London Town!