A tribute to the poet Giorgos Seferis

 

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It is incredible when some kind of coincidences occur. My adviser, an engineering professor, has just returned from his home, Cyprus, and brought me this book. We have never talked about poetry before and I was genuinely surprised that he gave me this copy, the same edition which my parents used to own. It is no secret that Seferis is perhaps the poet I admire the most. I still remember when I first study his poems in high school something inside me flickered, specifically to «O τελευταίος σταθμός» – “The last stop” (1944) and  his last poem «Επί ασπαλάθων …» – “On calicotomes” (1971). I had realized that this is it, this is my poet. Can’t remember how many times I have read his poems but this is the first time “On a foreign verse” (1931) «Πάνω σ’ έναν ξένο στίχο».

A few words about him. He was born in Vourla 1900, today’s Urla in Asia Minor, before the Greco-Turkish War of ’19–’22. He was a diplomat, an ambassador and worked with the exiled Greek government in WWII.  He was awarded the 1963 Nobel Prize for Literature”for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”, one of the two those awards that Greece has – the other being of the poet Odysseas Elytis.  Actually, his banquet speech is absolutely worth reading, you can find it from the official site here. It starts with the sentence “I feel at this moment that I am a living contradiction”. As a final remark, he took a stand against the junta that was inflicted upon Greece ’67–’74. His funeral in ’71 was a major political event opposing the regime where people and now 91-years-old Mikis Theodorakis, composer of the soundtrack of the adaptation of “Zorba the Greek”, sang Seferis poem “The denial” (1931), the Greek version of which I am going to include here as a tribute to him:

ΑΡΝΗΣΗ

Στο περιγιάλι το κρυφό
κι άσπρο σαν περιστέρι
διψάσαμε το μεσημέρι·
μα το νερό γλυφό.

Πάνω στην άμμο την ξανθή
γράψαμε τ’ όνομά της·
ωραία που φύσηξεν ο μπάτης
και σβήστηκε η γραφή.

Mε τι καρδιά, με τι πνοή,
τι πόθους και τι πάθος,
πήραμε τη ζωή μας· λάθος!
κι αλλάξαμε ζωή.

PS: I want to believe that my poems are influenced somehow by his style or as he would called it “With the way of G.S.” (1936), «Με τον τρόπο του Γ.Σ.». This is at least my intention. Just today I heard the good news that my poem Atlantis was published in the Greek literature magazine Fractal Art! I am deeply grateful. Thank you!

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Α.Δ.

About Apolytos Diallaktikos

Hi, I'm Karlos and this is my personal, bilingual blog. I see it as a way of holding a public calendar with all the hidden or not-so-hidden gems I discover, as a mean of sharing my inner thoughts, poems, songs, books, films. Originally from Thessaloniki, Greece and currently at UT Austin, Texas.
This entry was posted in English, Ελληνικά, Poetry, Review. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A tribute to the poet Giorgos Seferis

  1. Little coincidences that say “pay attention.”
    Congratulations on your publication in Fractal.

  2. Hope says:

    Does the poetry seem different translated?

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