Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Morning Poetry, Thrill Of Victory Edition

  One of the many events today in London is swimming and that makes me think of Byron, who was a fantastic swimmer.  In 1810 while he was on his tour of Greece, Turkey and Albania he swam from Sestos to Abydos, recreating Leander's fabled nightly swim to Hero.  It's difficult to imagine a more hardcore fanboy exploit, isn't it?  It took Byron four hours to swim the Hellensport Strait (in a letter to a friend he says it's about a mile) which connects the Agean Sea to the Sea of Marmara in modern Turkey.  He was incredibly proud of his accomplishment and of course wrote about it in "Written After Swimming from Sestos to Abydos."

Plus, he probably looked hot doing it
Portrait by R. Westall
If, in the month of dark December,                                                      
Leander, who was nightly wont
(What maid will not the tale remember?)
To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont!

If, when the wintry tempest roared,
He sped to Hero, nothing loath,
And thus of old thy current poured,
Fair Venus! how I pity both!

For me, degenerate modern wretch,
Though in the genial month of May,
My dripping limbs I faintly stretch,
And think I've done a feat today.

But since he crossed the rapid tide,
According to the doubtful story,
To woo -and -Lord knows what beside,
And swam for Love, as I for Glory;

'Twere hard to say who fared the best:
Sad mortals! thus the gods still plague you!
He lost his labour, I my jest;
For he was drowned, and I've the ague.

Okay, so if Byron was a hardcore fanboy for recreating the feat of a fictional character then what do we call these guys?  They've organized a swim across the Hellensport for the last eight years but others have also done it off and on since Byron's death in 1824.  In 2010 one of the swimmers was the next Lord Byron, the Honorable Charles Byron.  I think they might want to double check the pedigree there because I don't know that I see a family resemblance.

All right, have a great day whatever you're doing today.  The next post will be back on the road. 


  1. Olympics and poetry! Love the tie-in. Hope your day goes swimmingly. :)

  2. A fascinating bit of trivia! Thanks for tracking that down and sharing it. :)

    1. Thanks, B! And there wasn't much tracking's been in my head since 11th grade, lol! This blog has been fabulous for emptying out all the useless information I've been storing in there for years. If I post enough maybe I'll start to remember where my keys are...

    2. I have that problem, too. How do I make space for new information?

    3. LOL, when you figure it out let me know!


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