A rake about town in Venice and other dubious early-19th century resorts Lord George Gordon Byron was also a strong swimmer, despite being born with deformed ankles and a clubfoot. Venetian gondolieri will proudly tell you how Byron for a bet, swam from the quayside at Venice Lido across the choppy seas of the lagoon and up the murky waters of the world's most famous open sewer the Canal Grande, which is not a canal at all but a river you wouldn't want your dog to swim in, to a point well beyond the Rialto, in fact as far as the train station some gondolieri say. The bisexual noble Lord bedded two women that same day it's claimed. A true gondolier's man. A Venetian hero!
The 22nd January 2008 will be the 'mad bad and dangerous'* poet and freedom fighter's 220th birthday. He died in 1823 while training the home side's soldiery, the so-called Byron's Brigade, during the Greek War of Independence. Unfortunately during this noble enterprise he was taken ill in a rainstorm and died of a fever. His body, preserved in alcohol, was subsequently returned to England where St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey both refused to have it. His heart was buried in Greece.
*quote from one of Byron's conquests, Lady Caroline Lamb (nee´ Ponsonby) wife of Lord William Lamb Melbourne the future Whig prime minister.
So We'll Go No More A-roving
So we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul outwears the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.
By way of celebration, unlike the stuffed cassocks in the Abbey, Poet-in-Residence will raise a glass and perhaps with a little Vivaldi pay his personal tribute to one of the wild and wonderful characters to be found in the boundless world of poetry.