It's enjoyable discovering what inspires people to ideas and that's one reason I went into teaching; that and I like to learn new things, after all were only here for a short while and so much has happened.

Lord Byron composed this poem based on the myth about Hero and Leander. Leander, who lived on the Asiatic shore, loved Hero, a maiden from the other side. He would swim to her nightly across the straight until at last he drowned trying in a storm.

In 1810 on May 3rd, Byron swam the strait where the Black Sea empties into the Mediterranean, the Hellespont, that divides Asia from Europe. Together with a British Navy officer by the name of Lt. Ekenhead they arrived at Abydos on the Asiatic from Sestos in Europe.

He composed the poem just a week after his swimming feat. In his biography of Byron, Leslie Marchand illustrates Byron's sharp and very quick witted response:

This was a feat that gave Byron much satisfaction, and one in which he took unremitting pride. The day the deed was performed he wrote an enthusiastic letter . . . : "This morning I swam from Sestos to Abydos, the immediate distance is not above a mile but the current renders it hazardous, so much so, that I doubt whether Leander's conjugal powers must not have been exhausted in his passage to Paradise."

Not the first time a thinly veiled idea verging on indecency has been turned into good prose.


The Mediadrome - Words - Poems of the Week: Lord Byron: words_articles/poems_byron.htm

Public domain text exists at The Poets’ Corner:

Blair, Bob. Untitled:
accessed August 24, 2003.