Skyros

skyrosThe beautiful island of Skyros is the largest of the Northern Sporades, so it is perhaps surprising that it is not better known. It is divided into two equal parts by a narrow low-lying isthmus with a natural harbour, sheltered by islets. The mountains of the lower half of the island are densely wooded and home to the island’s indigenous wild horses. skyros_horses

Skyros town occupies a spectacular spot on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, the bright white houses lining narrow winding streets and furnished with the ornate carved wooden furniture for which the island is famous. At the top of the slope is a ruined Byzantine castle built on the site of the ancient acropolis.

Another gem of the island is Tries Boukes (meaning three entrances), so called because of the islands in the bay which create natural shelter and three different ways into the harbour.

 

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The First World War, or Great War as it was called before a second greater wave of fighting swept across Europe, was in some ways unique. For the first time, ordinary men, not professional soldiers were involved directly in the battles. And, for the English at least, who did not suffer the pain of occupation, there was a wide gulf between those who fought in the trenches and the disease-ridden battlefields of Europe, and those who remained peacefully at home. It is perhaps for this reason that The Great War produced so many memorable poems – the putting into words of that horror and separateness that characterises this war more than any other.

In his poem, The Soldier, Rupert Brooke encapsulates the fear, courage and idealism of that Lost Generation who fought and died in such large numbers.

rupert_brooke

If I should die… and die he did, in August 1915, of septicaemia on a hospital ship just off the coast of Skyros. He was 28 years old. He is buried in Skyros.

brooke_monument

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