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Though smile and sigh alike are vain,
When sever'd hearts repine,
And mourns in search of thine.
Written at Athens.
JANUARY 16, 1810.
The spell is broke, the charm is flown!
Thus is it with life's fitful fever: We madly smile when we should groan;
Delirium is our best deceiver. Each lucid interval of thought
Recalls the woes of Nature's charter, And he that acts as wise men ought,
But lives, as saints have died, a martyr.
Written after swimming from Sestos to Abydos. *
MAY 9, 1810.
IF in the month of dark December
Leander, who was nightly wont
To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont!
On the 3d of May, 1810, while the Salsette frigate (Captain Bathurst) was lying in the Dardanelles, Lieutenant Ekenhead of that frigate and the writer of these rhymes swam from the European shore to the Asiatic-by-the-bye, from Abydos to Sestos would have been more correct. The whole distance from the place whence we started to our land. ing on the other side, including the length we were carried by the current, was computed by those on board the frigate at upwards of four English miles; though the actual breadth is barely one. The rapidity
If when the wintry tempest roar'd
He sped to Hero, nothing loth, And thus of old thy current pour’d,
Fair Venus! how I pity both!
of the current is such that no boat can row directly across, and it may in some measure be estimated from the circumstance of the whole distance being accomplished by one of the parties in an hour and five, and by the other in an hour and ten, minutes. The water was extremely cold from the melting of the mountain-snows. About three weeks before, in April, we had made an attempt, but having ridden all the way
from the Troad the same morning, and the water being of an icy chillness, we found it necessary to postpone the completion till the frigate anchored below the castles, when we swam the straits, as above stated; entering a considerable way above the European, and landing below the Asiatic, fort. Chevalier says that a young Jew swam the same distance for his mistress ; and Oliver mentions its having been done by a Neapolitan; but our consul, Tarragona, remembered neither of these circumstances, and tried to dissuade us from the attempt. A number of the Salsette's crew were known to have accomplished a greater distance, and the only thing that surprised me was, that, as doubts had been entertained of the truth of Leander's story, no traveller had ever endeavoured to ascertain its practicability.
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 to-day.
But since he cross'd the rapid tide,
According to the doubtful story,
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 drown'd, and I've the ague.
Ζώη μέ, σας αγαπώ. *
Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Zwn på, oás ayaww. * Zoë mou, sas agapo, or Zwn po, o as dyaww, a Romaic expression of tenderness: if I translate it I shall affront the gentlemen, as it may seem I supposed they could not; and if I do not I
may affront the ladies. For fear of any misconstruction on the part of the latter I shall do so, begging pardon of the learned. It means, “My Life, I love you!" which sounds very prettily in all languages, and is as much in fashion in Greece at this day as, Juvenal tells us, the two first words were amongst the Roman ladies, whose erotic expressions were all Hellenized.