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Maid of Athens (1872)

Maid of Athens

Maid of Athens, ere we part,
Give, o give me back my heart.
O, since that has left my breast,
Keep it now and take the rest.
Hear my vow before I go,
Zoi mou, zas agapo. [Zoë, my life, I love you.]
By those tresses unconfin’d,
Woo’d by each Aegean wind;
By those lids whose jetty fringe
Kiss thy soft cheeks’ blooming tinge;
By those wild eyes like the roe,
Zoi mou, zas agapo.
By that lip I long to taste;
By that zone-encircl’d waist;
By all the token-flowers that tell
What words can never speak so well;
By Love’s alternate joy and woe,
Zoi mou, zas agapo.
Maid of Athens, I am gone:
Think of me, sweet! when alone.
Though I fly to Istamboul,
Athens holds me heart and soul:
Can I cease to love thee? No!
Zoi mou, zas agapo.

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Composer

Charles-François Gounod was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria, based on a work by Bach, as well as his opera Faust.

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Poet

George Gordon Byron (later Noel), 6th Baron Byron, FRS , commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and the short lyric "She Walks in Beauty".

Byron is regarded as one of the greatest British poets, and remains widely read and influential. He travelled widely across Europe, especially in Italy where he lived for seven years. Later in life, Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which many Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died in 1824 at the young age of 36 from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi. Often described as the most flamboyant and notorious of the major Romantics, Byron was both celebrated and castigated in life for his aristocratic excesses, including huge debts, numerous love affairs - with men as well as women, as well as rumours of a scandalous liaison with his half-sister - and self-imposed exile.

He also fathered Ada, Countess of Lovelace, whose work on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine is considered a founding document in the field of computer science, and Allegra Byron, who died in childhood — as well as, possibly, Elizabeth Medora Leigh out of wedlock.

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