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The Nymph of Ogygia

The following paragraph, from Mufidah’s post of yesterday, sums up the significance of our now being on the Ionian island of Ithaca, off the west coast of Greece. Specifically, we’re now living in, and writing from, Vathy, the island’s capital.

It feels good to be here after 29 months of travelling, a journey inspired by Sean’s and my shared desire to travel together. Greece is a key destination for both of us. For ages, I’ve wanted to spend considerable time in Greece, to get to know the country of my father and ancestors, and to connect with the Greek in me. Likewise Sean, who has for many years wanted to experience Greece, having studied ancient Greek and the Greek classics in graduate school. And, so, it feels particularly fitting for us to be on Ithaca, home of Odysseus and the island he took ten years to return to after the end of the Trojan war. Not only have we both held the dream and intention to come to Greece, Sean and I have been through a whole host of Odyssean trials since we began our travels in 2012.

I, therefore, think it a befitting time to finally publish the sonnet I penned in the autumn of 2003, during my final semester at the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College, Annapolis, a particularly rewarding time for me in countless ways. It is, of course, a poem about Calypso and her great and, ultimately, unrequited love for Odysseus:

The Nymph of Ogygia

‘Tis they the world most celebrates in verse,
As lovers who endured long years apart;
‘Twas they the gods saved from Poseidon’s curse:
The man of wiles (she of head and heart).

But you, dear Nymph, conceal immortal tears,
And no one feels nor mourns your crushing pain,
Whose love endures not merely twenty years—
For you shall reap what gods and fate ordain.

Eternal misery and loneliness,
An infinite life lived in hollow caves,
A cruel burden you shall bear, Goddess,
An island girl seduced alone by waves.

Yet no reprieve shall even these swells bring,
Though from despair can wisdom fly on wing.


Photo: Sean M. MaddenSean M. Madden is a writer, photographer and slow-traveling digital nomad. He’s also Co-Founder & CEO of, working with creative businesses and individuals, worldwide, to build tribes of loyal customers via strategic websites and visual storytelling.

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