Thursday, April 24, 2014

Evanston: variations on a theme

        I like variations on a theme; perhaps because my life has been.  Certainly I have created more variations on a voyage than most.
        The above photo came from Zane in New Zealand who happened across it on someone else’s website.   I thank him.   The gimbaled backstay radar mount broke in the Indian Ocean in 2008 and was never replaced, so the photo dates before that.
        I think THE HAWKE OF TUONELA looks nice.  She shares with GANNET an uncluttered deck, as did all of my boats, except CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE who had no deck at all.  You can’t get more uncluttered than that.
        One of my favorite comments, which I took as a supreme compliment, was made when some people on another boat passed near RESURGAM while she was on a mooring in Sydney, Australia.  We were down below with the hatches open and heard one man say, “That boat’s sailed around the world.”  Another replied incredulously, “Really?  She doesn’t have enough stuff on her.”
        THE HAWKE OF TUONELA was only of moderate size, but as Zane points out, she would dwarf GANNET.
        Hopefully before the end of the year, I will have a photo of GANNET in the exact same location.


        I was formed in part by epics of ancient Greece and the opening of the American West.  Although the apposite Gateway Arch had not been built when I was a child, Saint Louis was a good place to consider the latter.  My mind went down the Mississippi to the Gulf; but even more it went west to the ocean.
        I read books about the West and I read the Greek epics.  I wondered, as the young must, if I could have done what people, real and mythical, in those books did; though in time as those of you who have visited the poetry page know, I chose to be measured by the ocean.
        I have no idea how many times I’ve read THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY in various translations or variations on them.  They are still being written, including by me, and I just finished reading for the second time one of the most recent and cleverest.
        First published in 2007, THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY, by Zachary Mason, claims in a brief preface to be a translation of a papyrus fragment recovered from a rubbish heap, containing forty-four variations on what has become accepted as the standard version.  Mason suggests that this is the freezing of what was fluid and multifaceted.
        The alleged papyrus provides us with quite different possibilities of Ulysses’s voyage, his homecoming, encounter with the Cyclops, Calypso, Circe, the Trojan War itself, and his old age, when in the last fragment, “Last Islands”, he and his men set out to retrace their journey and visit destroyed Troy, where they do not find what they expect, but Ulysses does find a kind of peace.
        There is a pretty good review of a second edition of Mason’s book, published in 2010, at the NY TIMES, with which I do not entirely agree and find a bit too glib.  I also think it reveals too much that is better left to be enjoyed in reading and so have not provided a link.
        THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY is short.  I read it in two sittings on successive days with great pleasure, and I expect that in time I will do so again.

       I also reread last evening Carl Sandberg’s ‘Chicago’ which appeared in POETRY magazine one hundred years ago last month.