These are poems inspired by, and mostly written on, Mount Athos in Greece. Some of the titles are the names of the monasteries on the Holy Mountain that inspired them.
Dedicated to the memory of Christos Nicolao, a true friend of the Mountain, who first introduced me to this extraordinary place.
Not timeless, but outside Time,
the monasteries of Athos endure the centuries
with an aura of unspoilt sanctity
setting them apart from everyday worries.
After being there, people say
that they are “going back into the World”,
while from the outside this
earthly paradise is,
like a dream,
July 1996-June 2003
The scrape of a pencil on rough paper,
and colours –
the pale blue and white of sky,
the greys of distant horizons
behind the deeper blues and silvers of the sea,
the reds and ochres of the katholikon
baking in the sun,
the crisp white and pale brown
of the reconstructed guest house,
monks in black, and dark slate roofs;
on which to draw for inspiration.
A brief stop, high up the valley.
A time to recover from coming across the hills
before following the road down to the sea.
An air of open bustle,
but none to preoccupied to spare a word,
guide a misdirected stranger
or offer hospitality.
The memory of that short stay lingers,
an example to carry with me on.
I have come, and have fulfilled my vow.
An hour ago, I was travelling here;
now, I start the journey home
filled with a feeling of lightness,
And yet – there is no cease:
the road is always longer, less direct,
but not without cause, not useless,
merely with an endless,
Called to this place for you,
I stand surrounded by its emptiness.
The thought of you,
perhaps walking now,
sustains me –
and I have no regrets,
your smiles worth my troubles,
your laughs worth my tears.
For what we receive…
I prayed for clouds
to quench the sunlight –
and there were clouds.
I prayed for wind
to cool my journey –
and there was wind.
I prayed for tranquility
to ease my mind –
and there was peace.
I prayed for understanding
to guide my footsteps –
and there was Faith.