After about three decades and three months, Golding finally realized his war-postponed dream of visiting Ithaca.  With such a level of high expectation and anticipation, you might expect the reality of the place to disappoint.  Anything but, it transported him and was a high point of his life.   I loved his short summary of its beauty, down to mathematical purity of the abstraction of blueness of its skies. 

When he first saw Ithaca it was from a distance, in a passing ship, and he vowed to set foot on the island soon.  World war and other distractions intervened but he made it in the 1950s.  Like Golding, my first, and so far only, sighting of Ithaca was from a distance, from the solid rocks of the adjacent island of Kefalonia.  Like him, I vowed to visit one day.  Let’s see how long it takes.  In May of this year, it will be a decade since that first sighting and that promise.  

I could see enough on that journey of another thing, the beauty of Ithaca, enough to know that for me, at least, there never had been, and never would be again, a place so beautiful, the ribs of golden hills, the magistral olive-trees, the cypresses black as coal-cellars, the sudden froth of a bank of wild flowers, the far-down bays as tiny as shells, the contours of the mountain ridges against a sky of which you could only say it was an abstraction of blueness, pure as mathematics, too pure even to be poetry.  

See another paean to the island.


Source: Louis Golding, Good-bye to Ithaca (London: Hutchinson, 1955), p. 210

Photo credit: arshopenby at pixabay


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