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The Well Read Poem

Apr 12, 2021

Welcome to Season 2 of The Well Read Poem podcast. During this season, our host, classicist and poet Thomas Banks will be reading and interpreting six poems of history. This week's poem is “Stanzas Written in Passing the Ambracian Gulf” by Lord Byron. Poem begins at timestamp 6:28.

Stanzas Written in Passing the Ambracian Gulf

by Lord Byron

Through cloudless skies, in silvery sheen,

Full beams the moon on Actium's coast:

And on these waves for Egypt's queen,

The ancient world was won and lost.

And now upon the scene I look,

The azure grave of many a Roman;

Where stem Ambition once forsook

His wavering crown to follow woman.

Florence! whom I will love as well

As ever yet was said or sung

(Since Orpheus sang his spouse from hell),

Whilst thou art fair and I am young;

Sweet Florence! those were pleasant times;

When worlds were staked for ladies'

Had bards as many realms as rhymes;

Thy charms might raise new Antonies.

Though Fate forbids such things to be

Yet, by thine eyes and ringlets curl'd!

I cannot lose a world for thee,

But would not lose thee for a world.