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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Lord Byron (1788–1824)

After Swimming the Hellespont

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 wint’ry tempest roar’d,

He sped to Hero nothing loath,

And thus of old thy current pour’d,

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 to-day,

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.