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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 we have a Byron character. Usually it is the quarterback of the football team, who is this “manly man” and every girl wants him (usually every girl gets him).
The quarterback is the guy who has to be the best at everything. The one who laughs at love and only lives to outdo others. The Leander character represents the best friend of the girl or the nerd who fights for love and friendship but is always belittled by the jock. Even on reality television shows, a Lord Byron Don Juan character is always thrown into the mix. For example, on ABC’s yearly reality “love” show, The Bachelorette, there is always a “Byron” thrown in the mix of guys.
On the show that is airing this month, there is Bentley, who has the bachelorette wrapped around his finger, yet he is only on the show for the challenge, because he refuses to be beat, and just so the bachelorette can “tickle his pickle” (which is what he really said). Even though he is probably paid on the side to put on this act, he still exemplifies Byron’s character in “Written after Swimming from Sestos to Abydos”2. He just wants to do it to say he did it and that he did it better.
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