From the Journal of Lita Hopkins
Mr. Papandreus, the shepherd, and his wife, Nika, live up the hill. I hear his pipes as he and his youngest son play and sing the sheep down to the pens in the evenings. The young man’s voice carries softly twined in the whispering pipes. No words defined but the sound of a human voice and music of breath among the rattle of the olive branches in the evening breeze and the unending wash of the waves from below.
This couple has raised 5 children, 4 of whom have lives of their own scattered about the island. They often gather at the sprawling house, that undoubtedly started as a small cottage only to be expanded as the family grew. The youngest, Niko, still lives there and is often seen fishing in lagoon at night with his carbide lamp and spear. He is a head taller than his father, who is not a small man. The wife keeps the house with the help of a young woman, whom she treats with gentle disdain. If I understand the arrangement (but it’s possible I have it all wrong) she is the daughter-in-law in training. If so it seems a good system for the continuation of a simple life in which weather and health are the only major concerns. The young son and his wife will take on the running of the farm and household and care for the parents as they age. I wonder if this arrangement applies to the particular situation or if it is more broadly traditional and followed down through centuries. Are we, unwittingly, the carriers of infectious concepts that will transform these lives from their simple forms into those of more complex modern arrangements? I doubt that our ideas of how to live are superior or better suited to this place. We are creatures of a wider world and probably not the better for it.
I have been reading to the children from Bullfinches Mythology. In the preface two poems are quoted. One, Thomas Moore‘s ” the Song of the Hyperborean,” which I read as part of my studies from a volume in my fathers library. I have written to ask him if I could borrow this and some other books which I remember reading as a child, such as Peter Pan and the Wind in the Willows, which I could read aloud to the children.
The other poem is Milton’s “Comus” which I have here among the volumes that Charles worked on at the press. I have been reading Milton and though much of it is beyond my haphazard education, I am inspired by the language. The sounds and rhythms produce such visions. Milton was blind. Maybe this is how he saw his world in his his mind. Maybe his world was not dark, but lighted with such word picture songs. I am so hasty and slothful in my writing, but perhaps if I were blind it would induce me to create visions of language upon which to feast my mind’s eye.
I read some Milton to the children. The older two listened politely for a while and asked to be excused to build their fort under the olive tree in the courtyard, a major undertaking of engineering, in which they have utilized crates and branches and all manor of odds and ends. I believe if I could stand by and jot down their conversations as they build I would have a marvelous book of tales. With a few nice illustration, it might be good enough to publish. What would they would think if I read their own words back to them?
Little Annabelle is content to doze and listen for a while longer, but in the end drifts off into napping. I wonder what mischief the poets visions make in her dreams.