Trigon for an Old War: Three Drafts

Islands, Inlands

1. Ionian to Middle Sea by caïque . . . Crete, then Cairo . . . A long telling of it and a tilling in a short red boat―― And Corcyra, which may have been the island where The Tempest tossed a crew, may have been before the home of Phaeacians who to foreigners were kind. Scheira, Corfu―― where shadow-play Karaghiosis is the hero, Spiridion the saint. In Paris the pornographer receives a Zero letter in heraldic hand: I fear a war is coming on. I love your work. So did the diplomat from Smyrna. Love and fear. Fear the war and love the work. When consul in Albania. While following the kingdom come by caïque on to Crete. . .

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Text Sources for "Islands, Inlands".

Lawrence Durrell, Prospero's Cell

Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi and Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch.

Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water.

W. Stanley Moss, Ill Met by Moonlight.

Michael Ayrton, The Testament of Daedalus

Gail Holst, Theodorakis: Myth & Politics in Modern Greek Music

Odysseus Elytis, The Axion Esti, trans. Edmund Keeley and George Savidis

George Seferis, Collected Poems, trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard


JM: "The islands are Crete and Corfu and England. The inlands are mainland Greece, continental Europe, and the Alexandrian Egypt. Also, at the end, the human brain (introducing the neurological strand of the poem). The full title of the part of the book that contains Islands, Inlands, Hess / Hess and Café Des Westens Kurfürstendamm is Trigon for an Old War: Three Drafts. All of the poems in the book can be considered "drafts." The Old War in question is, of course, WW II, though it is not accidental that the first poem in the sequence deals with a Greek setting in that conflict: Crete, where Patrick Leigh Fermor (the great travel writer) and W. Stanley Moss led a group of Greek partisans to kidnap General Kreipe, Commander of the Sevastapol Division in Crete, and narrowly escaping the German manhunt, before getting their man, by submarine, to Alexandria. So: Crete, Alexandria. But also Corfu, remembered through the lens of Lawrence Durrell's "Prospero's Cell" and Henry Miller's "The Colossus of Maroussi".

Middle Sea. The Mediterranean- the term used by David Jones for the second part of The Anathemata, 'Middle Sea and Lear Sea'. Jones is a primary influence on Matthias' work.

Caïque. Traditional fishing boat found in the Aegean and Ionian Sea.

Corcyra. One of two Greek names for Corfu, the name Lawrence Durrell uses in the subtitle of Prospero's Cell.

Karaghiosis. The main character of Greek puppet theatre. Sotiris Spatharis, one of Greece's greatest pupeteers, commented that during the German occupation: "In those days everyone rushed to see perfomances of Karaghiozis, to see Diakos, Souli, Katcantonis, and other heroic plays. It was as if Karaghiozis was telling them 'You must fight for your freedom like your ancestors."

Phaecians. In Greek mythology the inhabitants of Scheria or Phaecia. In Homer's Odyssyey, Oddyseus is shipwrecked and washes up on Scheria- a story that Matthias makes more use of in his Laundry Lists and Manifestoes. Identified as Corfu by Thucydides in his History of the Pelopennesian War.

Spiridion. Patron saint of Corfu. Gerald Durrell (Lawrence's younger brother) wrote a lively account of the saint's feast day in his My Family and Other Animals.

The pornographer. The novelist Henry Miller who lived in Paris from 1930-39. Both his Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn were banned for obscenity in the USA.

Love your work. Lawrence Durrell first wrote to Miller in 1935.

Smyrna. Ancient city in what is now Turkey (and is now called Izmir)- it was colonised by the Greeks and then expanded under the Romans, one of the longest continually occupied settlements that we know of.

Consul in Albania. George Seferis, poet and Nobel laureate, was the Greek Consul in Albania from 1936. He was born near to Smyrna in 1900.

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