Thursday, January 7, 2010
Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,
Along Morea's hills the setting sun;
Not, as in Northern climes, obscurely bright,
But one unclouded blaze of living light!
O'er the hush'd deep the yellow beam he throws,
Gilds the green wave, that trembles as it glows.
On old Ægina's rock and Idra's isle,
The god of gladness sheds his parting smile;
O'er his own regions lingering, loves to shine,
Though there his altars are no more divine.
Descending fast the mountain shadows kiss
Thy glorious gulf; unconquer'd Salamis!
Their azure arches through the long expanse
More deeply purpled meet his mellowing glance,
And tenderest tints, along their summits driven,
Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven;
Then, darkly shaded from the land and deep,
Behind his Delphian cliff he sinks to sleep.
Lord Byron, The Corsair (1814), Canto Third.
No one knows where exactly Byron was standing when he observed the "god of gladness" sinking into the Gulf of Salamis, but the lovely view pictured above across the Aegean Sea from the Temple of Poseidon—69km southwest of Athens—was very familiar to him. He mentions it Don Juan, and his name was found inscribed amid some 19th c. graffiti in the marble ruins:
[The Byron autograph is from Wikipedia, "Temple of Poseidon." The Aegean photo was posted by normalityrelief at flickr.com, and it will embiggen itself if you click upon it.]