Monday, 2 July 2012
Port Said is a city that lies in north east Egypt extending about 30 kilometres (19 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Suez Canal. The city was established in 1859 during the building of the Suez Canal.
Lowry visited the port on the outward bound voyage of Pyrrhus arriving and departing on May 24th. Lowry returned to the port on the inward bound voyage arriving and departing on September 14th 1927.
Lowry refers to the port in his first novel Ultramarine based on the voyage; "I am on a ship, I am going to Japan - or aren't I?" then he lists all the ports he is due to visit including Port Said and ""One of the elephants for Rome, we get her off at Port Said." (Pg. 142). In an untitled poem "I shall watch them sail; to Saigon the Equator or Port Said"(Collected Poetry Pg. 111). He later referred to the port in the short story 'Elephant and Colosseum'; "Since the ship didn't dock in Rome the beast was to be transferred to an Italian vessel at Port Said. But the ship very nearly didn't get to Port Said, or finally, anywhere else" ('Elephant and Colosseum' Pg.219 ) ; " was this very incident of the elephant's departure from them at Port Said.('Elephant and Colosseum' Pg.219)"; and "The elephant - harnessed like an infant and, alas, squealing like one, she had been lowered into a lighter opposite the Casino Palace Hotel, while behind her in the wicked city of Port Said the advertisements for the The Lipton winked on and off…" ('Elephant and Colosseum' Pg.220 ). Lowry also had another reference to Port Said in a draft version of Ultramarine in the Conrad Aiken's archives; "Port Side = Port Said = the Dutchman's breeches." (Huntington Library Pg.23).