Agniezka Kuciak, ODYSSEUS AND POZNAŃ [Part I]

[Utopia of home. Foto di Marzia Poerio]


As one wise Greek said: “the cheated one is wiser than the one that didn’t let himself be led astray”. The cheated one is wiser as the world is carved from faith, love and divine art. Penelope was the wise one.

Not all realise that the sky is made up of blue eyes which look all very innocent. Angels are in the stained glass, and the sun is the pane of stained glass through which God shines.

Poznań is a lonely island, and the sea, full of monsters, adventures, vessels, wind and longing, spits in its eyes. Through tears, through fans of poetry, Penelope looks into the sea for a long time. The Moon is like Odysseus’s silver arch, but no one reaches out for it.

And so Odysseus sails and sails, back home through the world with the wind of Latin fantasies. Wisdom leads him through the sea, blue-eyed wisdom. He’s been away for so long that even Homer is taking a nap, yellow have gone the epos’s pages, the green gowns of the faithful have faded.

Too many isles, fairies, lotuses, and winged words to return home so soon. Too many islands, fairies, lotus and winged words to choose to live without art.


This was back in the time when the foamy sea flowed around Poznań and burst with a clutter into the suburbs. Even in Gwarna and Farna Streets you could still hear the hum.

Some thought that the hiss came from “those winding columns, which made it so difficult to focus on the prayers in the Fara church”. For “baroque evolved from the snake that so craftily twisted itself around the tree, the paradise tree and the paradise tree was strangled”. “Oh, why don’t we give it up” - one could hear them shout - “and let us return to the Middle Ages”.

In the meantime, the nymphs and sirens swam over to the safe houses. With bags full of bread, briefcases full of knowledge, suddenly music invaded the world, and sober citizens of Poznań were unexpectedly startled. “Monteverdi?” - they hesitated, and in awe threw themselves into that sea of strangeness, that the poet says is more crystal-clear and deeper than a dream.

And rumour had it that Monteverdi snatched people right into the sea. They said all the beautiful things the city had desinit in piscem. They said it was no good singing in the odd choir at the bottom of the silver waves.

And so all the sea is made of lace, all made of dark Penelope’s chests. And the chest holds cloth embroidered with outstanding adventures. This whole story is also there, all the spells and monsters. The Laestrygonians and Lotophagi and the Phaeacians’ island of Scheria. All is there, waiting for their return, locked away with a faithful key.


At the bottom of darkness there’s a Cyclop. He lives in the island, in a cave. Like all such monsters he cannot build a house. This is the source of his frustration.

Poliphemus kept Odysseus hostage. He wanted to devour him at once. He kept thrusting people against the floor till pink brains splashed out.

“Human brain Carpaccio served with a drop of lemon” - kindly noted Odysseus - “goes really well with amontillado. Would Mr Monster like to have some?”

The worst thing about Cyclops is that they eat us raw. No knives, no forks, no spices and no grace. Never have they cast their old eyes on a recipe for a man. The Cyclop does not know it goes like this:

“Soften the man’s ears with music and conversation.
Saturate the man’s eyes with colours and harmonies.
Tie his tongue and exercise his body.
Cure the man’s heart with love, faith and chastity.
Then one can make friends with him”.

The worst thing about these monsters is that they eat us and burp. And they only say: “So what?”

Luckily for this story Poliphemus tried some wine.

Monsters and barbarians, as we know, do not water things down. And a good beverage mixed with thoughts full of curses makes one sleep very heavily.

Out of his sombre gratitude Poliphemus promised to devour him last. However, in the fire Odysseus hardened the pole.

Can Nobody blind the Cyclop in his dreams? To blind the Cyclops in his dreams Nobody Can. (This is what we are all called in the language of monsters).

And so Odysseus escaped from the cave, hanging down from the ram’s belly, before getting unravelled by Penelope. “We’re not meant to live like animals, but to seek chastity and Poznań...”- said the wise heart, sailing through the sea, through tears. It makes one scared to think that he who lost all his allies and was molested by the ram will trigger off the ILIAD, as if the ODYSSEY was not enough.

By the way, one would admit indeed that Poliphemus is an ugly creature.

Seeing her fart made him fall in love with Galatea: the fact that ephemeral nymphs do too, took his breath away. He didn’t even notice that it was of a different class: aromatic, charming, musical, all made of ether and rainbow. Well, the Cyclop’s only eye fails to see that the truth is beautiful, scared of all that escapes far into the myth.

However, let us return home, back to Penelope.


It was back in the times when Poznań was still full of poetry, dreams and ardent affections. The butterfly of poetry was going round and round the candle, the eye of fairness, the sun of the soul. All had traces of sirens’ wings and claws in the heart's hearts. For days poets looked deep into the eyes, into the daylight - deeper than a dream.

Like salamanders, they lived solely by fire, magic, charm and reverie. Happily sleeping, in the darkness of the Persian night, immersed in the laurel wind. Troubadours set sail for death and for distant love. They aired their souls with gasps, measured time with sonnets. Books caught fire from the souls, the whole world on fire, glowing light. The old flame grew towards the sky, love swept the noble ones high up. It set the sun and stars in motion. It bore a smile over the books.

Whoever looked into their eyes could see the soul - all awash with stars, firmaments, frills of clouds. The heat wasted the soil away, while Clytia turned into the heliotrope. Out of passion, chastity vows were taken in Plato’s church. Amo amabam they said. The world was seen through a light veil of enchantment. Penelope had many a suitor.

Many a one had molested her with a sonnet, a canzone, a ballad, but she always managed to flee before the punch line. Many a suitor wanting her lips only got a cool dressing of Aquitania on their foreheads. Many a suitor desired that heart, but it was still overseas, in windstorms, on distant islands. And still Penelope remained faithful.

[1. To be continued]

Other texts by Agniezka Kuciak were published in “Carte allineate” on 19-9-2007 and 7-10-2007.