Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sailing To Byzantium

On the 22d of July we soar to Spain. After six nights in Sitges, south of Barcelona, we set sail for Ibiza, Italy, Istanbul, and the Isles of Hellas: Thera and Mykonos. As in the Yeats' poem quoted below, we shall sail to Byzantium and to the Monuments of Unaging Intellect.
For all the depth of culture, of history, of thoughts of mortality as we gaze upon the greatest art and architecture of these civilizations, there will be for us the added revelation of a renewed Europe. Spain especially will hold for us joy and a celebration of higher awareness. For almost three weeks we shall be free of the repressing hand of the U.S. -- of its obsession with control of the world, from oil to religion, to the detriment of all.
It would be exciting to think that Spain today, like Seville and Granada in the 14th Century, exalts all peoples and artistic visions. Then Jew, Moor, and Christian worked together to create the Alhambra and the Alcazar of Seville. I think that today Federico Garcia Lorca and Luis Bunuel would flourish. In any event, Lorca, D.H. Lawrence, and Yeats shall accompany us on our journey.

W.B. Yeats 

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another's arms, birds in the trees--

Those dying generations -- at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unageing intellect.


An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

- The Tower (1927)

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