The Ever-Lasting Allure of the Hesperides

Over the course of roughly a decade, I’ve become increasingly fascinated with the ancient Greek myth of the Garden of the Hesperides, a wonderful retreat somewhere at the western edge of the known world in ancient times. I had hoped by now to have been able to give a detailed explanation for my deep interest in this story, as I had planned to include it in the pages of a book I started writing at the beginning of this year, but it was not to be.

A fire in early March destroyed my home, along with just about everything it once contained, including my beloved, extensive library, while this conflagration brought my writing to an abrupt end. I shall resume this enterprise as soon as I’m able, so in the meantime, I shall simply explain, for the benefit of those who might be unaware of this place, that this blissful garden was tended by the Hesperides, the daughters of Night.

Different ancient sources provide other parents for the Hesperides apart from Night, one being Erebus, or Darkness, but these tantalising creatures were known as Daughters of the Evening and also Nymphs of the golden light of sunset. This subject is rarely far from my mind these days, so it is perhaps no surprise that I was stunned and enchanted earlier today when I saw the photograph at the top of this post.

It was taken by my childhood friend Bizzy Mitchell on one of the Greek islands, so I’m extremely grateful to her for giving me permission to reproduce her magical image of a Greek sunset here. The picture is enchanting in its own right, but I was literally spellbound when I found myself gazing at the physical embodiment of a mystery that has captivated me for ten years.

One day, more will follow, but until then, I shall leave you with some words penned by the genius William Wordsworth:

“And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man…”
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