D made me read Ithaca (http://ithaca.rice.edu/kz/Misc/Ithaka.html) on Sunday.
It was beautiful, illuminating, mildly nostalgic and led to a bit of introspection. It made me wish my copy of Odyssey was around, the one with yellow, well-thumbed pages. (There was a certain joy in picking up those at Book Street, but alas). To take it off the shelf, dust it off, and snap it open once again, to let in that old book smell, which lends that distinct headiness.
I remember reading the book a few times in my early teens, conjuring up images of gods, demons, heroes, nymphs and most of all the sense of adventure. And the joys of getting lost, and finding the way back, at times almost unwillingly.
This poem once more brought up the “journey versus destination” debate. I remembered how after reading Odyssey many times as just an adventure/ fantasy flick, how once I stumbled across the inner meaning. Likewise, this poem brings to mind the subtle meaning, as the journey of the homebound soul. One realizes that demons do exist, but only within our mind, and so too does the concept of home itself (in Odysseus’ case Ithaca). Ithaca, that true home, is the reason for the journey.
But if we rush past everything that’s along the way, the markets and the wares of the world, if we do not pause to feel the first bloom of spring, the summer morning, the first rain, not let the winter chill our bones, will our senses ever know what home is when we finally arrive?
I remember reading somewhere that the story is actually that of love, not mere adventure. Odysseus was urged by Calypso, a nymph of ageless beauty, to stay back with her on the island of Ogygia, an offer with obvious attractions- physical, spiritual and mortal. However, he chooses to return to Penelope, his wife in Ithaca, who by now is well past her prime. Therein lies the essence of Odyssey: the beauty of human form is far outweighed by the glory of human love.
D'll be misseD.
(Four days, four posts- that definitely is a record.)