Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dutifully padding about the temples of Mt Athos

    Woke up this morning, the weight
    of my twenty years heavy upon me,
    wondering how many people at home
    were wishing me many happy returns
    and whether the waves of their 
    well-wishing would reach me through
    the air. The arbondaris, with whom
    I have made great friends, brought
    me tea and jam and bread. He seems
    to have taken me under his wing, as
    I'm his only guest.

    After dressing, I was just setting
    out in quest of Father Basil, when
    I met him on the threshold, coming
    to visit me. So we sat talking in
    my room, and then we set off to
    look around the chapel, where the
    ikons and frescoes were all new,
    and though not unpleasant, not very
    interesting. The gilding in the up-
    per chapel is all recent, and some
    of the stencilling on the wall aw-
    ful, and luckily not very obvious.
    The two-storey library is enormous,
    with long, pleasant rooms packed
    full of books in expensive cases.
    It is very poor in manuscripts how-
    ever, except for one with the gos-
    pels for each day of the year, which
    has fascinating illustrations, a Na-
    tivity where the interest and adora-
    tion in the eyes of the animals is
    really wonderful, and another of the
    Baptism of Christ, naked in Jordan,
    with the devil, or some evil water
    sprite, in a posture of submarine

    Then I bade Basil goodbye, and he
    returned to his cell, I to mine,
    he dragging his heavy boots behind
    him, and giving the impression, in
    his youthfulness, of a schoolboy
    dressed up in a flowing beard and
    hair, tall hat and long robes.

Patrick Leigh-Fermor
February 11, 1935
The Broken Road
  From the Iron Gates
  to Mount Athos
Artemis Cooper and
Colin Thubron, editors
op. cit.

Fionn Creber

No comments:

Post a Comment