Sunday Poetry – Lord Byron

This lovely poem, The Maid of Athens, is by Lord Byron. It’s reminiscent of the many poems where the lover describes his beloved as an aid to remembrance or to convince her that she will not be forgotten. Apparently Byron wrote the poem on leaving Greece in 1810 & it was dedicated to the three daughters of his landlady. He described Teresa, Mariana & Kattinka as “divinities” & wrote in a letter that he was “dying of love for them”. Somehow I don’t imagine Byron pined for very long!

Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, oh, give back my heart!
Or, since that has left my breast,
Keep it now, and take the rest!
Hear my vow before I go,
My life, I love you.

By those tresses unconfined,
Wooed by each Aegean wind;
By those lids whose jetty fringe
Kiss thy soft cheeks’ blooming tinge;
By those wild eyes like the roe,
My life, I love you.

By that lip I long to taste;
By that zone-encircled waist;
By all the token-flowers that tell
What words can never speak so well;
By love’s alternate joy and woe,
My life, I love you..

Maid of Athens! I am gone:
Think of me, sweet! when alone.
Though I fly to Istamboul,
Athens holds my heart and soul:
Can I cease to love thee? No!
My life, I love you.

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