Read A SERENADE. of Wit and Wisdom of Don Quixote , free online book, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, on

And he forthwith imagined that some damsel belonging to the duchess had become enamored of him.  Though somewhat fearful of the beautiful foe, he resolved to fortify his heart, and on no account to yield; so, commending himself with fervent devotion to his mistress, Dulcinea del Toboso, he determined to listen to the music; and to let the damsel know he was there he gave a feigned sneeze, at which they were not a little pleased, as they desired above all things that he should hear them.  The harp being now tuned, Altisidora began the following song: ­

  Wake, sir knight, now love’s invading,
    Sleep in Holland sheets no more;
  When a nymph is serenading,
    ’Tis an arrant shame to snore.

  Hear a damsel tall and tender,
    Moaning in most rueful guise,
  With heart almost burned to cinder
    By the sunbeams of thine eyes.

  To free damsels from disaster
    Is, they say, your daily care: 
  Can you then deny a plaster
    To a wounded virgin here?

  Tell me, doughty youth, who cursed thee
    With such humors and ill-luck? 
  Was’t some sullen bear dry-nursed thee,
    Or she-dragon gave thee suck?

  Dulcinea, that virago,
    Well may brag of such a Cid,
  Now her fame is up, and may go
    From Toledo to Madrid.

  Would she but her prize surrender,
    (Judge how on thy face I dote!)
  In exchange I’d gladly send her
    My best gown and petticoat.

  Happy I, would fortune doom me
    But to have me near thy bed,
  Stroke thee, pat thee, currycomb thee,
    And hunt o’er thy knightly head.

  But I ask too much, sincerely,
    And I doubt I ne’er must do’t,
  I’d but kiss your toe, and fairly
    Get the length thus of your foot.

  How I’d rig thee, and what riches
    Should be heaped upon thy bones! 
  Caps and socks, and cloaks and breeches,
    Matchless pearls and precious stones.

  Do not from above, like Nero,
    See me burn and slight my woe,
  But to quench my fires, my hero,
    Cast a pitying eye below.

  I’m a virgin-pullet, truly;
    One more tender ne’er was seen. 
  A mere chicken fledged but newly; ­
    Hang me if I’m yet fifteen.

  Wind and limb, all’s tight about me,
    My hair dangles to my feet;
  I am straight, too: ­if you doubt me,
    Trust your eyes, come down and see’t.

  I’ve a bob nose has no fellow,
    And a sparrow’s mouth as rare;
  Teeth, like bright topazes, yellow;
    Yet I’m deemed a beauty here.

  You know what a rare musician
    (If you hearken) courts your choice;
  I dare say my disposition
    Is as taking as my voice.

Here ended the song of the amorous Altisidora, and began the alarm of the courted Don Quixote, who, fetching a deep sigh, said within himself:  “Why am I so unhappy a knight-errant that no damsel can see but she must presently fall in love with me?  Why is the peerless Dulcinea so unlucky that she must not be suffered singly to enjoy this my incomparable constancy?  Queens, what would ye have with her?  Empresses, why do ye persecute her?  Damsels from fourteen to fifteen, why do ye plague her?  Leave, leave the poor creature; let her triumph and glory in the lot which love bestowed upon her in the conquest of my heart and the surrender of my soul.  Take notice, enamored multitude, that to Dulcinea alone I am paste and sugar, and to all others flint.  To her I am honey, and to the rest of ye aloes.  To me, Dulcinea alone is beautiful, discreet, lively, modest, and well-born; all the rest of her sex foul, foolish, fickle, and base-born.  To be hers, and hers alone, nature sent me into the world.  Let Altisidora weep or sing, let the lady despair on whose account I was buffeted in the castle of the enchanted Moor; boiled or roasted, Dulcinea’s I must be, clean, well-bred, and chaste, in spite of all the necromantic powers on earth.”