haibun
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2005, vol 1 no 1

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Bill Wyatt, UK

 

On Corfu

Arriving on Corfu, just as summer comes to an end. It's much as Homer describes, "the land looking like a shield laid out on the misty sea." Now golden thistles take over. This is the island where Odysseus was washed out of the sea, without the help of gods or men. Cicadas high up in the trees, shrilling, when wine is at its best. An island of pomegranates, pear, grape, fig & apple, butterflies & humming bees. Sitting in the shade, wondering just what had happened to the golden age people of Phaeacia? Their modern day counterparts ride motor bikes at dawn, shotguns over shoulders, off to the bird kill, messengers of the sky fallen. Sitting in the shade, drinking this mettlesome wine, patches of Hesiod creep in, my heart satisfied. Soon the Pleiades, the Daughters of Atlas, will start their slow decline. Farmers quit their ploughs, watching the sky, looking out for those doves among stars. The last cicada finished his song yesterday, & tomorrow I head back home.

Early autumn rain--
last cicada song fading
in the olive grove

Note: In the Odyssey of Homer, Odysseus after escaping from Calypso is washed up on the fabulous island of Scheria. Thucydides, in his Histories names it as Corcyra, modern Corfu. This is the land of clouds & mists, inhabited once by the Phaeacians, a race of people occupying the first utopia to be mentioned in Greek literature. Hesiod lived just over a hundred years after Homer. He left us his "Works & Days" one of the earliest accounts of agricultural practices & economic history. He also wrote a Theogony, about the beginning of the world & the birth of the gods.

Sun climbing the hill
Backpack on my shoulders--
Task never done

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