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General Information
An Overview
The Crossing
The Blue Lagoon
The Comino Tower
Local Legend
Santa Marija Chapel
The 1715 Battery
Meeting Marija
Tal-Hmara
Eco-Conservation
Comino Waters
Local Placenames
Old Comino Maps
Related Material
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Over the years, Comino has captured the imagination of a variety of artists; from novelists and poets to songwriters and film makers. Here, we bring some of those works to our visitors' attention for their appreciation.


Comino has been romanticized in Maltese literature. From the 13th century Jewish mystic Abram ben Samuel Abulafia to the Maltese authors Ġużè Galea (1901-1978), Ġużè Cassar Pullicino (1921-  ) and Alfie Guillaimier (1927-  ), all found that Comino offered the possibility of being portrayed as a mysterious island, that was either a place of refuge or a smuggler’s or pirates’ haven where eerie incidents occurred.   Not all was fertile literary imagination since Comino’s past history helped formulate their thoughts.

Ġużè Galea and Ġużè Cassar Pullicino visited the island in 1944. Writing in his Kelma Waħda Biss (Only One Word), Cassar Pullicino explains that “Il-ħsieb biss li maqtugħ mid-dinja, għalkemm mhux bogħod wisq minn Malta u Għawdex, huwa biżżejjed biex iferrħek u jhennilek qalbek.” (Even the thought that you are cut off, although not far from Malta and Gozo, is enough to delight and serene your heart.)



Raġel bil-Għaqal (A Sensible Man) remains a classic in Maltese children’s literature. Louis Grasso, Galea’ s biographer, states that the then Director of Education Dr. Albert Laferla, approached Galea in 1943 and encouraged him to write a children’s classic on the vein of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. It was deemed as an ideal tool to enthuse Maltese schoolchildren and befriend them with the written vernacular.

Out of this idea, Raġel bil-Għaqal was born. What is astounding is that it was written in the underground shelters of the Grand Harbour at a time when Malta was still subject to aerial enemy bombardment. Galea himself confessed that: “U fost l-għajat u storbju u bid-dawl tax-xemgħa kont niktbu.” (I wrote the book in candlelight amidst the shouting and din).

An action packed storyline, set in medieval times, Raġel bil-Għaqal centres around the Maltese heroes Marku Falzun and Luqa Briffa, the treachery of Diegu Alagona, of Spanish stock, and the slyness of a sluggard called Miju Mekkek. To evade Alagona’s wrath, Falzun seeks refuge on Comino. In the book Galea describes Comino “as a pirate’s lair, with corsairs concealing their ships beneath the cliffs, all the ready to pounce on Christian merchantmen bringing supplies to Malta.” At a later stage a Christian vessel approaches Bejn il-Kmiemen.

“Dik il-feluka baqgħet wieqfa għal ftit tal-ħin, imbagħad il-qlugħ tagħha mtela bir-riħ, il-bum tar-randa xxejjer lejn id-dritta, tmejlet fuq il-ġenb, telqet u bdiet taqta’ f’wiċċ l-ilma donnu xi ħadd kien qiegħed jibbordja fuqha, iżda f’daqqa waħda qabdet rotta għal fuq ir-ramla ta’ Bejn il-Kmiemen, u baqgħet dieħla b’saħħa kbira sakemm weħlet fuq ir-ramel ħdejn xifer il-blat.”

aktar siltiet mill-ktieb



Another popular children’s book featuring Comino is Alfie Guillaumier’s   Il-Misteru ta’ Kemmuna (The mystery of Comino), first published by Klabb Kotba Maltin in 1981. Yet the most important work ever to come out of the island is Abulafia’s ‘Sefer ha-ot’ (The book of the Sign). A kabbalist and a self-declared Messiah, he attempted to convert Pope Nicholas III. After being arrested and imprisoned, he reached Malta and settled on Comino around 1285 to compile his work.






fisherman



The celebrated Gozitan poet, Ġorġ Pisani (1909-1999), had Comino very much at heart; perceiving the island as some sort of orphaned or abandoned child, disregarded by most despite its significant location between its two major siblings, Malta and Gozo.

Often, as they crossed the channel, Pisani would narrate to his young son the island’s legends of holy men and of pirates who respectively used and abused this silent paradise in days of old.

As Dr Paul George Pisani himself tells us, his father would relate his own childhood adventures on Comino, the island where wildlife thrived unnoticed and where myth and legend abound – rooted in historic truth, yet seasoned by a fair amount of imagination.

Here is what Ġorġ Pisani’s son recollects:

      “Whenever I would come to Malta with my father, which was quite often, as soon as the ferryboat steamed past Comino, he delighted in telling me stories and legends about the island’s caves. He would describe how in times of yore this place was a pirates’ haunt, how much richer the island had been in vegetation than it was then, how the hare was hunted regularly and how, in the days of the Order, deer used to be reared there as game for the Grand Masters.

      "He would also tell me about his (childhood) escapades when, along with his family members, he would venture by boat in the Comino caves.

      "He would speak about the history of the old chapel found thereon and how this was mentioned in ancient manuscripts and maps. He insisted that this was one of the oldest places of worship in our islands. Above all, he would tell the tales of the holy men and hermits who inhabited Comino; how they would congregate with the hermits who dwelled on Gozo and on Malta, by spreading their mantle to traverse the sea.”

Much of this becomes evident when the poet’s feelings are expressed in his poem “Kemmuna” ('Comino' – click for the English translation).

Kemmuna


Waħdek, ħosbiena f’nofs il-baħar tagħna,
Bla ħoss, bla ġrajja, bla tbissim, bla dija,
X’inti titħasseb f’dak is-skiet saħħari,
Gżira minsija?


Għidli x’qed taħseb, ħalli ‘l ħsiebek ngħolli
F’għanja sabiħa kif ġarrabt f’widnejja,
Ħa tidwi f’qalbhom xħin ikunu niesna
Minn ħdejk għaddejja.


U l-baħar igħidha fil-lejliet sajfija
Waqt li mitlufa f’taħditiet ta’ mħabba
Flimkien titgħannqu u titbewsu siekta
Bla ħsieb li jtabba’.


Jien ħsiebek qrajtu, u lil qalbek nafha,
U naf il-ħolma li hemm ġew qed tfawwar,
Holma li tisboq ix-xewqat ta’ l-Anġli
- Tlellix ta’ ġawhar.


Int qatt ma kellek, art il-bews kaħlani,
Qlub qalbenija li ħabbew lil dinek,
Int qatt ma rajtu l-isem t’omm jinkiteb
Ħelu fuq ġbinek.


U qatt ma rifes ħadd fuq xtutek niedja
Li wara ż-żjara ma telaqx u biegħek;
Fik l-ebda nisel qatt ma ha twelidu,
Ġensna m’hux tiegħek.


Hekk bqajt għaddejja ġewwa d-dlam ta’ l-iżmna,
Miftuma dejjem mill-ħlewwiet xenqija,
Mingħajr uliedek li jseddquk bi ġmielhom,
Lwien ir-rebbiegħa;


U waqt li ħutek wirtu sebħ u kobor,
Minn ġrajja mdemma ta’ kull ġieħ tifkira,
Int bqajt hemm waħdek bla xewqat u tama,
Minsija u fqira.


Iżd’ int tistabar; mhux għax dan għajjura,
Int trid seh’m ċkejken minn tan-nisel tagħna,
Xbejbiet u żgħażagħ li jbiddlulek qalbek
F’ħajja ferħana.


Gżira sabiħa, din hi l-għanja tiegħek,
Din hija l-ħolma u din hi l-waħħama.
Int trid imħabba u jum l-imħabba jżernaq:
Għanni u ttama.

Ġorġ Pisani

click for English translation





Another Gozitan poet, Qala-born Anton Buttigieg, in his prayer entitled 'By the Comino Tower', longs for his eternal rest to be in the dreamy haven of the Blue Lagoon.

Qala, on Gozo, lies directly opposite Comino's turquoise waters of 'Bejn il-Kmiemen' so it is small wonder that the poet yearned for this to be his final resting place, his eternal home.

click for English translation


Ħdejn it-Torri ta' Kemmuna

Mulej,
meta mmut jien,
waħħal l-iskeletru ta' rasi
max-xifer ta' blata
fuq dan is-sies,
biex bil-ħofra t'għajnejja
mingħajr għajnejn
jien nibqa' nara
il-baħar perla u kristallin
ta' bejn il-Kmiemen
eternament.

Anton Buttigieg
25 ta' Novembru 1971












One of Malta’s most successful records, Imħabba f’Kemmuna (Love on Comino) was written by Frank O'Neil over thirty years ago.

Tony Camilleri ‘l-Għannej’ a well known singer recalls that “in the mid-Seventies my mate Frank O’Neil, whom you should remember, hails from Sliema like me, went to spend some days on Comino, not for a leisurely purpose, but rather to take in the aura of the place and to meditate in peace.   It was there that he wrote the lyrics and melody of Imħabba f’Kemmuna.”

“The song was recorded in 1975 at the BFBS Studios in Floriana. We had the backing of New Courey, the popular Maltese beat group, and as you know, I sung it. It began to be used as a tourist commercial in a publicity campaign in the United Kingdom. Ironically, it was first publicly performed during a reception in honour of Miss World at the Comino Hotel.   Where else?”

“It also took part in the Malta Folk Song Festival, organised by Gove Enterprises, when it was sung by Carmelo Borg.   Frank and I released it as a single on vinyl, with the B side having Ma Nħallikx (I’ll Never Leave You).”

Imħabba f’Kemmuna shot up to number one of the Malta Hit Parade, where it stayed for many weeks, competing neck to neck with Tony Gauci’s Il-Qalb ta’ Kampanjol (A Peasant’s Heart).”

Imħabba f’Kemmuna


Ilmaħtek fuq l-iskuna
Li waslitna sa’ Kemmuna
U dak ħuk bħal induna
Beda jehmżek, beda jtik b’minkbejh

Inżilna fil-bajja ta’ San Niklaw
Għajnejja bħal ġmielek
Qatt ma kienu raw
Ġewwa r-ramel int ħallejt
Il-passi ħfief…
Biex niġi għal ħdejk

Bqajt miexi warajk bħal dell mistur
Bħal kaċċatur wara l-għasfur
Rajtek tħares taħt il-għajn
U wiċċek ħmar iżda mhux bix-xejn

Int bqajt tiela' ‘l-mogħdija
Li twassalna Santa Marija
Dik il-bajja tant kennija
Kellha tkun fid-destin tat-tnejn

Waqaft taħt is-siġar
U sibt il-kenn
Mix-xemx tiżreġ sħuna
Li ma tafx tħenn

Hemmhekk rajtni riesaq lejk
Tbissimtli u jien … jien poġġejt ħdejk
Tkellimna fit-tul
U dħakna lkoll
Xi ġralek id-dar
X’inqala’ x-xogħol

Għajnejk koħol imsaħħrin
Serquli qalbi
Serquni sħiħ

Inżilna fil-bajja ta’ San Niklaw
Għajnejja bħal ġmielek
Qatt ma kienu raw
Ġewwa r-ramel int ħallejt
Il-passi ħfief … biex niġi għal ħdejk

Tkellimna fit-tul
U dħakna lkoll
Xi ġralek id-dar
X’inqala’ x-xogħol

Għajnejk koħol imsaħħrin
Seqruli qalbi
Serquli s-sliem

Kliem: Frank O’Neil
Weżżaq: Frank O’Neil
Leħen: Toni Camilleri

Frank O'Neil ©1975






Photos were kindly provided by the Producers's Creative Partnership (Europe).

Comino continues to draw film-makers to her shores, firing their imagination with its scenic habitat and historic sites.





The Count of Monte Cristo

copyright 2002: Producer's Creative Partnership (Europe)

copyright 2002: Producer's Creative Partnership (Europe)


Popeye

copyright 2002: Producer's Creative Partnership (Europe)

copyright 2002: Producer's Creative Partnership (Europe)




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