Fata Morgana

File:Fata Morgana of sea surface and sun glitter.jpg
A Fata Morgana of the sea line.

One of my all time favorite Greek poets, Nicos Kavadias, titled the poem "Fata Morgana". I adored it since my teens without ever wondering what the title meant. I took it for granted that "Fata Morgana" was a gypsy name.
In 1977 Marisa Koch wrote music 
and interpreted it.

I will commune with salty sea water
gathered from your body drop by drop,
in an ancient Algerian copper cup,
like the one pirates drunk from, before the fight.

Where do you come from? Babylon
Where are you going? To the eye of the storm
Whom do you love? A Gypsy girl
What is her name? Fata Morgana

A ship sail made of leather,all smeared with wax,
the smell of cedar-wood, of incense and varnish,
like the scent of an ageing vessel's hold
built long ago in Euphrates or Phoenicia.

Flame-hued rust from the mine tunnels in Sinai
the mining docks in Gerakini and Stratoni
this thin coating, this sacred rust gives birth to us,
it nurtures us, it feeds on us and then kills us

Where do you come from? Babylon
Where are you going? To the eye of the storm
Whom do you love? A Gypsy girl
What is her name? Fata Morgana

The mine docks at Stratoni Northern Greece.

By looking it up in the net, I discovered that Fata Morgana is:
  • The Latin name of Morgana le Fey, King Arthur's half sister and witch extraordinaire
  • A highly complex meteorological phenomenon that can occur over land or sea whenever the weather conditions are right. 
In a "Fata Morgana" ,objects in the horizon - ships, islands, bridges etc appear tremendously distorted and seem to float. The mirage changes rapidly.It is classified as a major mirage.

Farallon islands' Fata Morgana as seen from the California coast
 Knowing exactly what the poet meant made me read the verses on a second subtler level. 
Nikos Kavadias was a radio operator on commercial ships, travelling the oceans of the world all his life. His poems carry the smells of the various ports of the planet, the nostalgia for home, the lonely days and nights on a ship in the middle of nowhere, the uncontrollable urge to sail again after a brief stay on land. 
He died while working on a ship in 1974, aged 64. 


  1. Thank you for sharing that poem, Desi. It was lovely to hear, and thought-provoking to read. Poems are very interesting to me, as they can convey feelings in a way which normal writing cannot. I am often annoyed by poetry though and haven't studied very much of it.

    However, when I was in 9th grade, my English teacher introduced poetry to the class, and though it lacks the romance and mystery of yours, this "story poem" is among my favorites:

    The Cremation of Sam McGee
    by Robert Service (1874-1958)

    Hmmm...I'll have to make a post on poetry now! :)

  2. woa! If I was in 9th grade and read this poem I would have slept for weeks with all the lights on ;)
    Do post on poetry,please do !!!
    I read a lot in my teens, but one has to read at least a hundred poems to find just one that has a powerful feeling. The rest are just nice words put together.
    So one day prose won me over :)
    Still all the poems I love are still with me.