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A Greek Quintet

September 13, 2012

Santorinian SunsetA Greek Quintet is the title of the poetry collection I read on holiday in Santorini last week. The anthology selected and translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard features poems by Cavafy, Sikelianos, Seferis, Elytis and Gatsos. Cavafy remains my favourite, even though his poem The City (thankfully translated into English as my Greek is not up to that level yet) annoyed me into writing a third verse in response to his two stanzas;

I will find another city,

go to another shore,

this city may pursue me

but I will walk the world’s streets,

grow old in a different neighbourhood

turn grey in another house.

I will not waste my life in one small place,

I will live it elsewhere.

And the photograph proves that there is a ship for me, a new road to take. The idea of a grey gap year appeals more than ever. In the meantime I have returned to my grey corner of England with a series of poems about Santorinian Sunsets. The sixth was written following a circuit of the caldera in a caique:

Tuscan tones consume tonight’s sky.

Wind whips over the sides of our caique,

turns hair into a tangle of cotters

as we cut across the caldera.

We drip dry to the clatter of meze,

share stories with strangers,

friends before the sunset hour

in Captain John’s taverna.

Back on Hermes, cameras

flock to starboard

in the scuffle to capture

coral, ochre, sienna.

As the year turns and many of us embark on new journeys I recommend taking a look at Cavafy’s Ithaka which begins:

As you set out for Ithaka

hope that the voyage is a long one,

and ends:

you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

I invite you to share your Ithakas and what they mean for you.

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