Swimming from Sestos to Abydos: Character Lord Byron

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Swimming from Sestos to Abydos: Character Lord Byron

By | June 2011
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“Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos”, by Lord Byron, is a poem that exemplifies Byron’s personality and his ego. Byron is known as a notorious Romantic poet all over the world. He is also known for his scandalous acts with many women,even young boys, and his prominent demeanor. After reading several of Byron’s work, I have received the vibe that Byron writes whatever he thinks. His strong personality and sense of masculinity also shines in many of his poems, revealing the theme of the “manly man”. As I read the poem “Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos” this “manly man” theme immediately stuck out to me.

In the beginning of the poem we are introduced to Leander, which in Greek Mythology was a swimmer who swam “cross thy stream, broad Hellespoint” (Byron line 4) for the means of love. In the process of one of his nightly swims, Leander drowned. In a way, Byron is mocking Leander’s actions. He sees Leander deathly swim as a challenge. Byron even says, “how I pity both” (8), meaning Leander and his love, Hero, for simply being in love, because he himself could physically love any woman that he desired. To him, sacrificing so much for one single woman, far more to sacrifice one’s life, is absurd and pointless to Byron. Therefore, Byron swims across Hellespoint but not for love, instead “I for Glory” (16). Also, unlike Leander, Byron only came down with the “ague” (20) or in other words an illness. Byron states: “Twere hard to say who fared the best” (17) but Byron is simply saying this in mockery because he knows he is the best because he survived. Even though this poem is short it describes Byron’s ego and personalties traits perfectly. Byron is up for any challenge and has to keep his reputation alive. With the ladies throwing themselves at him and the world looking up to him as the best poet alive during his time period, he has to keep his demeanor and ego high.

After reading this poem, immediately I realized that in almost every love movie...

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