Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/159

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And onward viewed the mount, not yet forgot,
The Lover's refuge, and the Lesbian's grave.
Dark Sappho! could not Verse immortal save
That breast imbued with such immortal fire?
Could she not live who life eternal gave?
If life eternal may await the lyre,
That only Heaven to which Earth's children may aspire.[1]


'Twas on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve

Childe Harold hailed Leucadia's cape afar;

    extremity of Ithaca, they sailed (September 28) through the channel between Ithaca and Cephalonia, passed the hill of Ætos, on which stood the so-called "Castle of Ulysses," whence Penelope may have "overlooked the wave," and caught sight of "the Lover's refuge" in the distance. Towards the close of the same day they doubled Cape Ducato ("Leucadia's cape," the scene of Sappho's leap), and, sailing under "the ancient mount," the site of the Temple of Apollo, anchored off Prevesa at seven in the evening. Poetry and prose are not always in accord. If, as Byron says, it was "an autumn's eve" when they hailed "Leucadia's cape afar," if the evening star shone over the rock when they approached it, they must have sailed fast to reach Prevesa, some thirty miles to the north, by seven o'clock. But de minimis, the Muse is as disregardful as the Law. And, perhaps, after all, it was Hobhouse who misread his log-book. (Travels in Albania, i. 4, 5; Murray's Handbook for Greece, pp. 40, 46.)]

  1. [The meaning of this passage is not quite so obvious as it seems. He has in his mind the words, "He saved others, Himself He cannot save," and, applying this to Sappho, asks, "Why did she who conferred immortality on herself by her verse prove herself mortal?" Without Fame, and without verse the cause and keeper of Fame, there is no heaven, no immortality, for the sons of men. But what security is there for the eternity of verse and Fame? "Quis custodict custodes?"]