Sunday, 18 January 2009

Egytian skies

[View of Cairo from the minaret of Ibn Tulun mosque.]

It is quite surprising how distinctive a destination's sky can be. It is as distinctive as a person's hair style.

The sky may not always be grey in England, but even a blue summer sky over Hyde Park does more to prove the sovereignty of grey than diminish it. When it returns, the English Grey stalks you like a melancholic just above you. 

In comparison, the sky is big in Australia because the clouds often hang so high.

Gerard de Nerval, the man famous for walking his pet lobster, Thibault, wrote of Cairo's sky in 1842, and I found the same sky in 2008 (above). It is a large grey, as opposed to the small grey of England.

"The turbid dust that clogs the horizon never breaks up into fresh clouds, as our European mists do; even at zenith the sun only manages to pierce a course through the cinereous atmosphere in the form of a fiery red disk that might well have emerged from the Libyan forges of the god Phta. At this prospect you understand the melancholia of ancient Egypt, preoccupied, as it so often was, by sorrow and tombs, that profound melancholia which is also transmitted to us through the extant monuments."
Gerard de Nerval, Journey to the Orient


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