March 17th, 2007

Following On

For many years my imagination kept going back to Egypt- not to the real Egypt so much, but to an Egypt of the imagination- most particularly to Alexandria- a city I've never visited.

(Well, not in this lifetime, anyway.)

And to the friends I have there.

Firstly, St Antony of Egypt- my namesake. He crops up in a lot of my poems. He and I were introduced by our mutual friend Hieronymous Bosch. We share an interest in solitude and demons.

Secondly Hypatia- my soul friend. Where St Antony stayed in costume, Hypatia was happy to change into denim. I used to talk to her a lot. She found me ridiculous and said so. The longest poem I've ever written belongs to her.

Who? Why? What?  No, I don't want to answer those questions. There are some things one shouldn't poke about in with one's nasty, inky fingers. 

I haven't visited either of them in a very long time. It wouldn't feel right to do so. But they're still there, sitting in their caves. And still dear to me. Very dear.

One Of My Old-Time Egyptian Poems

                                    PAN IN EGYPT


                                    He came with Alexander's touring army,

                                    Pulled faces at the dead who wouldn't rot;

                                    Dancing, he kicked up sparks among the temples.

                                    Queen Isis was amused and then entranced.


                                    On rocks beside the new town on the delta

                                    He sat and played the pipes.  The nations came

                                    To ease some itch or just to hear a lecture

                                    But one and all to fall in love with Greece.