Christmas 1996, Valerie used some of her redundancy money to pay for a holiday in Egypt, hotel in Cairo then sailing down the Nile. I was stunned by how beautiful and sensuous the bas relief in the stone walls and how delicate the statues. How could the artist create diaphanous robes in stone, such desirable bodies? Four years later, I wrote a poem “In Egypt” which has just come joint third in the Barnet Poetry competition and this prompted me to post it illustrated by photos.
In the folder in My Pictures dated 1996 are photos scanned in from negatives I took during this trip. Unfortunately none show a good example of what inspired me but I hope this blog will still be of interest.
We started in Cairo, one or two nights and, of course visited the pyramids where we saw police on camels whipping away civilian men on camels; they were pestering us tourists. The museum was wonderful and it is there that I saw the brightly painted clay votive figures. The next stop was the boat, I think we flew or took a coach to Luxor to meet it. Not too big it was great, good food and a pleasant group to travel with. It was lovely sitting on the deck in the early evening chatting and drinking, watching the Nile go by. I was surprised how close the banks were and how green they could be.
We visited temples along the way to the Aswan Dam and during our frequent dockings that I saw the bas relief and statues that inspired my poem.
Many of the images and writings were gouged out. The new king, in political censorship, would obliterate the name and face of his predecessor and Christians, in moral censorship, would deface what they thought immoral imagery. There was still much left to admire and enjoy.
The Felucca were beautiful, serene, silent timeless.
We sailed in one to Elephant Island I think it was. This is not Elephant Island but I like the picture.
About 10 years later I discovered Enheduanna the first poet who wrote in Sumer in about 2350BCE. It was an amazing civilization who invented and developed so many things, writing was just one. Later I found Egyptian love poetry written soon after this. Both are beautiful and have an unabashed sensuality and eroticism. This lead me to write some poems relating to both civilisations which perhaps I could write about in another blog.