"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Wanderings of Odysseus

As I'm shortly off to the Aegean for my annual immersion in sea, retsina and crumpled paperbacks, I am reading JV Luce's book, Celebrating Homer's Landscapes, which argues, against the weight of much current scholarship, that Homer's poetic landscapes are real ones (ah, the Literature and Life theme again!).

The cover shows the glorious harbour at Ithaca which allows me to quote one of my own poems from my collection The Narrators.


ITHACA

A harbour so perfect in its enclosing arms
we arrogant humans say: is it natural?
and think of Ulysses with his salt-caked skin
enjoying the long aftermath of war.
Travelling (as Cavafy says in his wise poem)
being much the better part of arriving:
like a book whose last chapter we evade,
recalling a need to put a light to the gas ring
or accomplish any of a dozen light tasks
that might include placing a log on the dying stove.
After that, the tucking of a bookmark in the page
and tapping the closed book on one's knee,
admiring the jacket design which tempted us
in a shop of piled volumes, all deliciously unread.

2 comments:

Rob said...

If you get the chance, take a look at Michael Wood's 1980s TV series 'In Search of The Trojan War'. Part of it is about the history of archaeological digs at Hisarlik in Turkey, and the rest features Wood scampering enthusiastically about the Greek countryside looking for signs of Homer's Greece.

Nicholas Murray said...

I have just passed through last week "the windy plains of Troy" and there is something exciting about looking down (from a public bus!) on the Hellespont and seeing the narrow entrance to the straight which Hero (or was it Leander?) swam.