From Byron's Don Juan:

'T was the boy's "mite," and, like the "widow's," may
Perhaps be weigh'd hereafter, if not now;

But whether such things do or do not weigh,
All who have loved, or love, will still allow
Life has nought like it. God is love, they say,
And Love's a god, or was before the brow
Of earth was wrinkled by the sins and tears
Of -- but Chronology best knows the years.

What is the meaning of the lines in bold? I looked up the meanings of mite, but I'm completely puzzled at the meaning of the lines. The oddly placed quotations marks do not make it easier to understand..

  • Mite may be a misspelling of might which would make sense of the comparison with the widow's may given both word's mean the same. Jan 8, 2018 at 13:42
  • @user14111 I was guessing based on the similarity in meaning of might and may and the fact that spelling wasn't fully standardised in Byron's time. I didn't have any actual evidence which was why I didn't write it up as an answer. Jan 8, 2018 at 18:17
  • 1
    I assume you have looked up "widow's mite"?
    – user14111
    Jan 8, 2018 at 23:33
  • 1
    @user14111 - oops, I haven't. Now it all became comprehensible.Thanks! Jan 9, 2018 at 6:37

1 Answer 1


In plain English the line is saying "The boy's mite was like the widow's mite".

This is most likely a reference to the story from the Christian Bible, specifically in the book of Mark, Chapter 12, Verse 41-44.

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, 'Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.

So the story is of how a poor widow gave all she had to the church and therefore was view as giving the most of all those that had donated.

Without further context, I am guessing the boy in Don Juan made a similar gesture of giving all he had to something or someone.

  • 2
    I think this answer would be clearer if you took the quotation from the King James version (the one Byron would have been familiar with) in which the widow's coins were actually called mites: "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing."
    – user14111
    Jan 11, 2018 at 22:47

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