In the first part, I said that there was one unfulfilled and unfulfillable desire her Hundred Lyrics created in me. It's been a fortnight since I wrote that, so I realise that anyone who was curious about the wish at the time has wandered off, and I don't blame you in the slightest. There's only so long you can keep such things dangling. The bait falls off the hook.
But here it is anyway, just after Sappho's Lyric Fifty-two.
I need only one poem. This one. Just amble through it lazily. It's Sunday right here and now, or if it's not where you are, pretend it is. Take your time.
Lo, on the distance a dark blue ravine,
A fold in the mountainous forests of fir,
Cleft from the sky-line sheer down to the shore!
Above are the clouds and the white, pealing gulls,
At its foot is the rough broken foam of the sea,
With ever anon the long deep muffled roar, –
A sigh from the fitful great heart of the world.
Then inland just where the small meadow begins,
Well bulwarked with boulders that jut in the tide,
Lies safe beyond storm-beat the harbour in sun.
See where the black fishing-boats, each at its buoy,
Ride up on the swell with their dare-danger prows,
To sight o'er the sea-rim what venture may come!
And look, where the narrow white streets of the town
Leap up from the blue water's edge to the wood,
Scant room for man's range between mountain and sea,
And the market where woodsmen from over the hill
May traffic, and sailors from far foreign ports
With treasure brought in from the ends of the earth.
And see the third house on the left, with that gleam
Of red burnished copper – the hinge of the door
Whereat I shall enter, expected so oft
(Let love be your sea-star!), to voyage no more.
What's my desire? It makes me want to paint a picture for each little stanza. Six paintings. Very traditional they would be, taking us from the broad vista in the first one to the house where she is about to open the door. Acrylic, maybe, as I never was keen on working with oils – but more likely and more pleasing to me, watercolours, unmistakeably Mediterranean brilliant blues and whites.
I can't do that now.
But you know what? It's a good thing in a way, because the six watercolours I've created in my mind are the best ever done, almost, and it would be a shame to expose them to public view, or mine for that matter. The reality wouldn't live up to what's there in my head. Let them stay where they are.
And one last thing. Maybe it would be a pity to impose my ideal version of all these six on you or anyone else. Remember how a fine novel converted to even the best movie forces upon us a new model of our characters; one that often robs us of our own?
I wouldn't want to do that to you. It's just not right.
So you see, it's all worked out well. Perhaps we all get what we want out of it. My perfect painting, secure in that corner of my brain, and your perfect image in yours.
Now read through the little poem again, chillen, and fall in love with your own double-triptych created by Sappho's lyric. (No, nothing like what's below; it's just my scrambled egg six-for-the-price-of-one-version, and surely looks that way.)