1979 : Odysseus Elytis

1979 : Odysseus Elytis

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“for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man’s struggle for freedom and creativeness”



November 2, 1911

Place of birth


Heraklion, Crete, Greece



March 18, 1996

Place of death


Athens, Greece







Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1979


The early years: Odiseas Elitis born on November 2, 1911 in Heraklion (Crete). It was the smallest of the six children of Mary and Panayioti Bran. His father came from the village of Kalamiaris of Mytilini and was established in the city of Heraklion in 1895, when together with his brother founded a soap factory and refining olive pomace. The old name was Alepudeli Lemon, which was later transformed into Aleppo. His mother came from the papacy of Mytilene. In 1914, his father moved their factories to Piraeus and his family settled in Athens. Odiseas Elitis was entered in 1917 at the private school DN, Makri, where he studied for seven years, taking as teachers and others to IM Panayiotopulo and I.T. Kakridi. The first summer of his life were spent in Crete, and in Mytilene island Spetses. In November 1920, after the fall of Venizelos, his family faced with various persecutions which climax the arrest of his father, because of its support for the ideas of Venizelos. Venizelos himself had a close relationship with the family and had often been staying at his home in the estate of Aklidiu. In 1923 the family traveled through Europe, visiting Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Yugoslavia. In Lausanne the poet had the opportunity to get up close to Eleutheria Venizelos. In autumn 1924 was entered into the Third Men’s Gym in Athens and worked in the journal The Formation of children, using different pseudonyms. As he himself confesses (Elitis gives many autobiographical details in her book Papers open), met for the first time when literature neogriega had already read many works of universal thought. In fact, spent all his money in buying books and magazines. Besides his dedication to literature, actively participated in trips to the mountains of Attica and, as a counterweight to their readiness to read, practiced athletics. Even the books they bought had to have a relationship with nature Greek: Kamburoglu, K. Pasayanis, St. Granitsas and a work in three volumes trip to Greece. In the spring of 1927 depletion and adenopathy is forced to leave their whims sports immobilized in bed for three months. Following some mild symptoms of neurological disease and more or less over the same period were permanently turned toward literature, an event that coincided with the emergence of several magazines on the new Greek literature such as The New Building (in Greek) and Letters Greek. The summer of 1928 received a bachelor’s degree with a grade of 7. Pressured by their parents, chose to study chemistry, attending several private academies to prepare for entrance examinations for the next grade. During the same period was in contact with the work of Kavafis Kalvar and renewing their knowledge of ancient Celtic poetry. Parallel discovered the works of Paul Eluard and the Surrealists French, who had a major influence on his ideas on literature, in his own words: “… forced me to pay attention and to recognize the possibilities appeared decidedly on the substance of their exercise free, lyrical poetry. ” Literature:

Under the influence of his taste for literature, renounced his intention to engage in chemistry and in 1930 he enrolled in law school. When in 1933 the university was founded in the Group of Philosophy Ideokratica, in collaboration with K. Tsatsos, P. Kanelopulos of I. Theodorakopul?? and I. Sykutris, Elitis was one of the representatives of students, working in the organization of meetings on Saturday. ” During that time knew the poetry of contemporary Greek Emmanuil Kesaros (as Flute discordant, in Greek), collection of poems in the pleasure of the break (in Greek) from Theodoros Doru, The Return (in Greek), by Giorgos Seferis, 1931 and The Poetry (in Greek ?? ????????), a work by Nikitas Randu 1933. With enthusiasm, he continued in parallel with their wanderings by Greece, who describes himself: “True pioneers, day after day fasting and continued without shaving, grasping the wheel of a Chevrolet dying, going up and down hills of sand, crossing marshes, in midst of clouds of dust and under vicious downpours, superabamos incessantly all obstacles and devorabamos kilometers insatiably, that our only twenty years and our love for this land we discovered that they could justify. ” During the same period, was related closely with Giorgos Sarandi (1908-1947), who encouraged him in his attempts poetic, while still in El?tis hesitation if he had to publish their works, while they made contact with the circle of New Arts ( Greek ??? ????????, existed in 1935-1940 and 1944). During this period, to be director Andreas Karandonis writers and contributors and many Greeks noteworthy, both veterans and young people (Giorgos Seferis, Georgios Theotokos, Terzakis Angeles, Kosmas Politis, Sikelianos Angeles, etc.), introduced in Greece modern trends of poetry and Literature and released to the public reader young poets, with the translation of his representative works or with informative articles on his poetry. He became the intellectual authority of the generation that welcomed the 30 columns in all its avant-garde elements, judging favorably and presenting the creations of the new Greek poets. New Lyrics:As Elitis acknowledged, 1935 was a special year in their intellectual experience. In January he published the magazine New Letters. In February he met Andreas Embirikos, who characterized it as: “… the athlete of strong resistance from fantasy, with a playground across the universe and the love stride. His work, his every new work, upwind of a small rainbow , Is a promise to mankind, a gift if we still do not get all in your hands, it is exclusively and solely because of his own unworthiness. ” In the same month Embirikos gave a lecture on The surrealism, a new school of poetry, which was also the first formal presentation of surrealism to the Greek public. The two poets maintained a close friendship that lasted more than 25 years. In March of that year, apart from the play Novel (in Greek ???????????) of Seferis, was published collection of poems High Horno (in Greek ??????????) from Embiriko with poetry totally surreal. Elitis, nine years younger, he saw before him opened wide the door to a new reality poetic, where it could build its own resources to building its poetic. During Passover the two friends visited Lesbos, where with the help of the painters of Mytilene Orestis Kanelis and Takis knew the technique of Eleftheriadis popular Theofilos painter, who died a year earlier. During a meeting of the circle of New Letters at the home of the poet GK Kachimbalis, attendees were kept several manuscripts Elitis, under the pretense of studying them better, and the typesetting composed in hiding, appearing later at the Elitis with the pseudonym Odiseas Bran, with the aim of its publication. Elitis requested the principle of withdrawal, please contact the Kachimbalis himself with a personal letter but was finally convinced that the issue under the pseudonym Odiseas Elitis. The publication of his first poems in New Lyrics occurred in November 1935, in the eleventh edition of the magazine. Elitis also published several translations of poems by Paul Eluard and in the foreword of the article presents both the originator as his poetry: “What I write comes immediately to our hearts, we are struck in the middle of the chest as a wave of another life taken from the sum of our most magical dreams. ” In 1936 the group of writers was more solid and more. Elitis also met the poet Nikos porridge, that years later he composed the surreal Amorgos (in Greek ??????). In 1937 did military service in the School Officers in the Reserve in Corfu, exchanging correspondence with Nikos Gacha and Giorgos Seferis, who were in Corizza. Shortly after graduating, the following year, Mich. Papanikolau article published poet Odiseas Elitis in New Letters, which contributed to his consecration. In 1939 he finally abandoned his law studies and after quite a few publications of his poems in magazines, was composed his first collection of poetry, entitled Guidelines (in Greek ???????????????). The following year, were translated for the first time his poems to a foreign language, when Samuel Baud Bony published an article on Greek poetry in the Swiss magazine Formes et Couleurs. The front Albanian:With the start of the war Elitis he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the administration of the First Army Corps. On December 13, 1940, he was transferred to the front and on February 26 the following year, was taken with a serious case of typhoid to the hospital in Ioannina. During the occupation was a founding member of the circle Palamara (in honor of the Greek poet Kostis Palamas) on May 30, 1943. Right there, the spring of 1942 published his essay The real face and the boldness of lyrical A. Kalvu. In November 1943 the collection was published in The Sun in the first variants over a ray, in 6000 numbered copies, a hymn of Elitis to the joy of life and the beauty of nature. In the new letter that again edited in 1944, he published his essay “The girls (in Greek ?? ????????), while since 1945 began his collaboration with the magazine Binder (in Greek ????????), translating poems by Federico Garcia Lorca and presenting in its its first issue Singing Heroic poetry and Funebre fallen by the lieutenant in Albania. The war in the 40s gave him the inspiration for other works: Kindness in Likopories, Albanians and the incomplete Barbarie. During the period 1945 to 1946 he was appointed for a short interval program director at the National Institution of Radio, but after a council staff Seferis, who was director of the Office of Civil Andivasileas Damasquinos. Also collaborated with the Anglo-Hellenic Review, which published some essays, Freedom and the Journal, where he remained until 1948 and a column of art criticism. Europe: In 1948 traveled to Switzerland to settle then in Paris, where he attended classes in philosophy at the Sorbonne. Describing his impressions of his stay in France, says his feelings and thoughts: “A journey that would take me closer to the origin of modern art, she thought. Without that I would at the same time closer to my old loves, in the centers where they had acted early surrealists, in the cafes where he had discussed the manifestos, in the Rue de l’Odeon in the Place Blanche, in Montparnasse and Saint Germain des Pres. ” In Paris, was a founding member of the International Association of Arts Critics and while and also had the chance to meet Andre Beton, Paul Eluard, Albert Camus, Tristan Tzara, Pierre Jean Jouve, Joan Miro and others. With the help of the Anglo-Greek art critic E. Teriade, who was the first to recognize the value of the work of compatriot Theofilos, met the great artist Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Picasso and Giorgio de Kirico, on whose work later wrote articles and dedicated to his art poem Ode to Picasso. In the summer of 1959 he traveled to Spain while during his stay in London, from late 1950 to May 1951, he collaborated with the BBC conducted four speeches radio. A little earlier, he had begun to compose To Axion stimulus. Return to Greece:After his return to Greece in 1952, became a member of the “Group of 12”, which granted each year awards for literature, which resigned in March 1953 but returned two years later. Again took a one-year leadership of the program EIP, appointed by the government of Papagu as to who resigned the following year. At the end of the year, he became a member of the European Society of Culture in Venice and a member of the board of the Teatro del Arte of Karolos Kun. In 1958, after a period of silence for about 15 years, were published excerpts from the Axion To stimulus in the journal Inspection of art. The book was published in March 1960 by the editorial Ikaros, but was composed in December 1959. Some months later won by Prime stimulus To Axion National Poetry Prize. During the same period for the issuance of the Six and a remorse for the sky (in Greek ??? ??? ??? ?????? ??? ??? ??????). In 1961 he visited the United States with an invitation from the government since late March until late June. The following year after a trip to Rome, visited the Soviet Union, with guest Andreas Embirikos and Giorgos Theotokos. The route that followed included Odessa, Moscow, where he gave a speech, and Leningrad. In 1964 he began recording of the poems sung in the play To Axion stimulus from Mikis Theodorakis, although Elitis collaboration with the composer dating back to 1961. The oratory of Theodorakis was part of the Festival of Athens and was originally scheduled to be presented at the theater Irodio. But the Cabinet Office refused his assignment, which resulted in Elitis Theodorakis and withdraw the work, which was finally submitted on October 19 at the Rex cinema. In 1965 he was awarded the medal by Constantine II of Taxiarjos of the Phoenix, completed during the period following the collection of essays that constitute the Open Letters. Parallel made trips to Sofia, invited by the Bulgarian Writers Union, and Egypt. After the coup d’etat of April 21, he turned away from the officer corps devoted primarily to painting and the art of collage, while she refused to recite the proposals of his poems in Paris because of the dictatorship that ruled. On May 3, 1969 he left Greece and moved to Paris where he began drafting the Luz composition of the tree (in Greek ??????????). Some months later visited Cyprus for a time, whereas in 1971 it returned to Greece and the following year he refused to receive the Grand Prize for Literature that he had ordered the dictatorship. After the fall of it, he was named president of the Governing Council of “?.?.?.?.” and a second time member of the Board of the National Theater (1974 to 1977). At the proposal of the New Democracy party (in Greek ???? ???????????) to be included in the list of candidates to Congress, Elitis rejected by remaining faithful to its principle of not actively mixed in active politics. In 1977 he also resigned his investiture as an academic. The Nobel Prize:During the years that followed, continued its multifaceted intellectual work. In 1978 he was invested Doctor Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Thessaloniki while in 1979 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The news was awarded the prize by the Swedish Academy took place on October 18 “for his poetry, it depth as the Greek tradition, with power sensitive and creative and intellectual shrewdness revives the group of modern man for freedom and creation, “according to the thinking of the resolution. Elitis was present at the ceremony protocol for the receipt of the prize on December 10, 1979, collecting the award from the hands of King Carlos Gustavo receive world recognition. The following year he deposited the gold medal and diploma prize at the Benaki Museum. In awarding the Nobel honors followed him inside and outside Greece, which include granting the Tribute of Honor at a special meeting of the Greek Parliament, his investiture as Doctor Honoris Causa from the Sorbonne University, the creation of Chair of Studies under the title Neogriegos Chair Elitis at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the granting of the silver medal Benson Philologist of the Royal Academy in London. He died on March 18, 1996 of a heart attack in Athens.


Major works in Greek:

  • Prosanatolizmi, 1940

  • Ilios o protos, 1943

  • Asma heroiko kai penthimo gia ton chameno anthypolochago tes Albanias, 1945

  • To axion esti, 1959

  • Exi kai mia tipsis yia ton ourano, 1960

  • Thanatos ke anastasis tou Konstandinou Paleologhou, 1971

  • To fotodhendro ke i dhekati tetarti omorfia, 1971

  • Maria Nefeli, 1978

  • Tria poiemata me simea efkerias, 1982

  • To imerologio enos atheatou Aprilou, 1984

  • Ta Demosia ke ta Idiotika, 1990

  • Ta elegia tis Oxopetras, 1991

Translations into English:

  • The Axion Esti by Odysseus Elytis / translated by Edmund Keeley and George Savidis – University of Pittsburgh Press, 1974

  • The Sovereign Sun : Selected Poems / translated by Kimon Friar – Temple University Press, 1974

  • Maria Nephele : a Poem In Two Voices / translated from the Greek by Athan Anagnostopoulos – Houghton Mifflin, 1981

  • Selected Poems / transl. by Edmund Keeley – Viking Press, 1981

  • What I Love : Selected Poems of Odysseus Elytis / translated by Olga Broumas – Copper Canyon Press, 1986

  • The Little Mariner / translation by Olga Broumas – Copper Canyon Press, 1988

  • Open Papers : Selected Essays of Odysseas Elytis / translated by Olga Broumas & T. Begley – Copper Canyon Press, 1994

  • The Oxopetra Elegies / translated by David Connolly – Harwood Academic, 1996

  • The Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis / translation by Jeffrey Carson and Nikos Sarris – Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997

  • Eros, Eros, Eros : Selected and Last Poems / translation by Olga Broumas – Copper Canyon Press, 1998

  • Journal of an Unseen April / translated by David Connolly – Ypsilon, 1998

  • Carte Blanche : Selected Writings – Amsterdam : Harwood Academic, 2000


1979: Nobel Prize in Literature.


From The Gloria

PRAISED BE Myrto standing

on the stone parapet facing the sea

like a beautiful eight or a clay pitcher

holding a straw hat in her hand

The white and porous middle of day

the down of sleep lightly ascending

the faded gold inside the arcades

and the red horse breaking free

Hera of the tree’s ancient trunk

the vast laurel grove, the light-devouring

a house like an anchor down in the depths

and Kyra-Penelope twisting her spindle

The straits for birds from the opposite shore

a citron from which the sky spilled out

the blue hearing half under the sea

the long-shadowed whispering of nymphs and maples

PRAISED BE, on the remembrance day

of the holy martyrs Cyricus and Julitta,

a miracle burning threshing floors in the heavens

priests and birds chanting the Aye:

HAIL Girl Burning and hail Girl Verdant

Hail Girl Unrepenting, with the prow’s sword

Hail you who walk and the footprints vanish

Hail you who wake and the miracles are born

Hail O Wild One of the depths’ paradise

Hail O Holy One of the islands’ wilderness

Hail Mother of Dreams, Girl of the Open Seas

Hail O Anchor-bearer, Girl of the Five Stars

Hail you of the flowing hair, gilding the wind

Hail you of the lovely voice, tamer of demons

Hail you who ordain the Monthly Ritual of the Gardens

Hail you who fasten the Serpent’s belt of stars

Hail O Girl of the just and modest sword

Hail O Girl prophetic and daedalic

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Doctor Karl Ragnar Gierow, of the Swedish Academy.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

When Giorgos Seferis, compatriot of this year’s Nobel prizewinner in literature, came here in 1963 to receive the same award, he presented at the airport a bunch of hyacinths each to the then Secretary of the Swedish Academy and to its officiating director that winter as a greeting to their respective wives. He had picked them himself on Hymettus, the mountain a few miles east of Athens where Aphrodite had her miraculous spring and where, ever since antiquity, hyacinths grow wild in a profusion which makes the whole mountain smell of honey.

The episode comes naturally to mind now that we have the pleasure of welcoming Odysseus Elytis, the Greek writer who in his youth made his name with the collection The Concert of Hyacinths, in which he calls to his beloved: “Take with you the light of hyacinths and baptize it in the wellspring of day” and assures her that “when you glitter in the sun that on you glides waterdrops, and deathless hyacinths, and silences, I proclaim you the only reality.”

But there is a more immediate reason today to think of the chivalrous gesture in the inhospitable sleet of the airport. The hyacinths Seferis gave us were not at all like those we are accustomed to see. And, freshly picked as they were, they became symbols not only of the climatic difference between the giver’s sunny south and our snowy north. If Odysseus Elytis, the author of The Concert of Hyacinths, had wished to use that flower as one of the analogies between environment and perception that are an essential part of his cultural outlook, he could have said that our potplants are a west-European rationalization of something which in his country grows wild, thereby acquiring its everlasting beauty. To this beauty he has devoted most of what he has written, and a recurrent theme is the prevalent west-European misconception of all that goes to make up the distinctive world of ideas whose legitimate heir he is.

He has arrived at his critical view of our all too rationalistic picture of Greece, which he traces back to the Renaissance’s ideal of antiquity, by his own familiarity with western Europe’s poetry, art and way of thinking. It may seem like a paradox – one which he himself has pointed out-that it was this western Europe, branded by him for its sterile rationalism, which gave Elytis the impulse that all at once set free his own writing: surrealism, which cannot be said to exaggerate reason.

The paradox is, if not apparent, at any rate not entirely unusual. Like a rebellious pulse of exuberant life surrealism broke through the hardened arteries of calcified forms. Outside France too poetry was dominated by a school which called itself “Les Parnassiens” but which never reached even the foot of Parnassus, if we share Elytis’s view of what Greece has been and still is. But also on the Greek Parnassus of that time sat the same connoisseurs of degeneration who, in ornate words, declared their pessimistic conviction that nothing in this world was worth anything except their ability to express perfectly this very thought. If such an atmosphere is to be called captivating, surrealism came as a liberation, a religious revival, even if the sign of the saved here and there was a mere speaking with tongues.

But much of the best that happens when an art form is rejuvenated is not the result of a definite program but the fruit of an unforeseen cross. For Greek poetry the contact with surrealism meant a flowering which allows us to call the last fifty years Hellas’s second highwater mark. In none of the numerous important poets who have created this age of greatness can we see more clearly than in Elytis what this vigorous cross signified: the exciting meeting between epoch-making modernism and inherited myth.

A cursory presentation of a poet hard to understand should, then, first establish his relationship to these two components – surrealism and myth. The task is not as easy as it looks. We have his own word for it: “I considered surrealism,” he says on the one hand, “as the last available oxygen in a dying world, dying, at least, in Europe.” On the other hand he states definitely: “I never was a disciple of the surrealist school.” Nor was he. Elytis will have nothing to do with its fundamental poetry, the automatic writing with its unchecked torrent of chance associations. His explorations in poetry’s means of expression lead him to surrealism’s antipodes. Even if its violent display of unproven combinations released his own writing, he is a man of strict form, the master of deliberate creation.

Read his To Axion Esti, by many regarded as his most representative work. With its painstaking composition and stately rhetoric it leaves not one syllable to chance. Or take his love poem Monogram, with its ingenious mathematical basis; it has few counterparts in the literature we know. It comprises seven songs, each with seven lines or multiples of seven in a rising scale 7-2 l-35 up to the middle song’s culmination of 49, where the poem turns round and descends the staircase with exactly the same number of lines, 35-21 – down to the final song’s 7, the starting point. This is nothing that need worry the poem’s readers; it has its beauty without our having to count its steps. But poetry with this structure like an Euclidean linear drawing does not take after surrealism’s ecriture automatique.

Elytis’s relationship to the other component, to Greek myth, also calls for clarification. We are used to seeing Greece’s treasure of myths melted down and remoulded to contemporary west-European patterns. We have an Antigone a la Racine, an Antigone a la Anouilh and we shall have more. For Elytis such treatment is odious, a rationalistic pot-cultivation of wildflowers. He himself writes no Antigone a la Breton. He imitates no myths at all and attacks those compatriots who do. In this world of ideas he also has his share of responsibility, though his writing is a repetition not of ancient tales from the Greek past but of the way in which myths are produced.

He sees his Greece with its glorious traditions, its mountains whose peaks with their very names remind us how high the human spirit has attained, and its waters the Aegean Sea, Elytis’s home, whose waves for thousands of years have washed ashore the riches that the West has been able to gather in and pride itself on. For him this Greece is still a living, ever-active myth, and he depicts it just as the old mythmakers did, by personifying it and giving it human form. It lends a sensuous nearness to his visions, and the myth that is the creed of his poetry is incarnated by beautiful young people in an enchanting landscape who love life and each other in dazzling sunshine where the waves break on the shore.

We can call this an optimistic idealization and, despite the concreteness, a flight from the present moment and reality. Elytis’s very language, ritually solemn, is constantly striving to get away from everyday life with its pettiness. The idealization explains both the rapture and the criticism that his poetry has aroused. Elytis himself has given his view of the matter, point by point. Greek as a language, he says, opposes a pessimistic description of life, and for la poesie maudite it has no expressions. For west- Europeans all mysticism is associated with the darkness and the night, but for the Greeks light is the great mystery and every radiant day its recurrent miracle. The sun, the sea and love are the basic and purifying elements.

Those who maintain that all true poetry must be a reflection of its age and a political act he can refer to his harrowing poem about the second lieutenant who fell in the Albanian war. Elytis, himself a second lieutenant, chanced to be one of the two officers who opened the secret order of general mobilization. He took part at the front in the passionate and hopeless fight against Mussolini’s crushing superiority, and his lament over the fallen brother-in-arms, who personifies Greece’s never-completed struggle for existence, is committed poetry in a much more literal and harsher sense than that familiar to those who usually clamour for literature’s commitment.

Elytis’s conclusions from his participation were of a different nature. The poet, he says, does not necessarily have to express his time. He can also heroically defy it. His calling is not to jot down items about our daily life with its social and political situations and private griefs. On the contrary, his only way leads “from what is to what may be”. In its essence, therefore, Elytis’s poetry is not logically clear as we see it but derives its light from the limpidity of the present moment against a perspective behind it. His myth has its roots by the Aegean Sea, which was his cradle, but the myth is about humanity, drawing its nourishment not from a vanished golden age but from one which can never be realized. It is pointless to call this either optimism or pessimism. For, if I have understood him aright, only our future is worth bearing in mind and the unattainable alone is worth striving for.

Cher Maitre,

Malheureusement, mais sans doute au soulagement de l’auditoire, je ne parle pas votre langue. Pour employer la locution anglaise specifique a quelque chose d’etrange: “It’s Greek to me”. Mais votre poesie n’est certainement pas etrangere, portee par la mer, qui est en meme temps la mere de la civilisation europeenne. Dans cette descendance nous mettons notre gloire, et, par consequent, il faut que je contredise votre diagnostic de notre etat deplorable. Ce dont nous sommes atteints, ce n’est pas du tout d’un exces de rationalisme. Au contraire, la maladie de l’Europe occidentale c’est justement que le rationalisme est rationne. Et le peu que nous en detenons encore, ce ne sont pas les devoirs que nous ont donnes a apprendre nos philosophes de la renaissance. La sagesse claire et la logique pure de Platon et d’Aristote, peut-etre aussi de Protagoras, de Gorgias et de Socrate lui-meme, voila les racines du rationalisme, dont nous ne voyons aujourd’hui que les epaves pitoyables.

Neanmoins Socrate, quand la raison ne lui donnait pas de gouverne, a ecoute la voix de son daimon, et, cher maitre, c’est avec une admiration tres profonde que nous avons ecoute se faire entendre en votre poesie la meme voix de mystere, le daimonde votre pays.

J’ai grand plaisir a vous transmettre les felicitations les plus cordiales de l’Academie suedoise et a vous demander de recevoir des mains de Sa Majeste le Roi le Prix Nobel de literature de cette annee.

Nobel Lecture:

December 8, 1979

Allow me, please, to speak on behalf of brightness and transparency. With these two states is defined as the area where I lived and where I was able to m’accomplir. States that I have gradually seen as identifying me with the need to speak. It is good, it is just brought them in to art, this qu’assignent to each his own personal experience and the virtues of his language. More when times are bleak and that things have the widest possible vision. I am not talking about the common and natural ability to perceive objects in all their details, but the power of metaphor retain only their essence, and bring them to such a state of purity that their metaphysical significance appears a revelation. I think by the way sculptors of the period Cycladic made use of the material, reaching just bring it beyond itself. I also think the Byzantine icon painters who succeeded by the only means of pure color, to suggest the “divine”. That such an intervention on the real, both penetrating and metamorphosis, which has been, always it seems, the high calling of poetry. Do not be limited to what is, but extend to what can be. It is true that this has not always enjoyed the esteem. Perhaps because the collective neurosis does not allow it. Perhaps because utilitarianism did not keep men, to the extent it was, eyes open. Beauty, Light, it sometimes takes for the outdated, for innocuous. And yet! The process required the domestic approach to the shape of an angel, in my opinion, infinitely more painful than the other, giving birth to demons of all kinds. Certainly, there is a conundrum. Certainly, there is a mystery. But the mystery is not a staging games taking advantage of light and shade just to impress us. This mystery continues to remain even in bright light. Only then takes the shard who seduces and we call Beauty. Beauty that path is open – only perhaps – to this unknown part of ourselves to that which transcends us. Voila, it could be a definition of more than poetry: the art of bringing us what we exceed. Countless signs secrets which the universe is constellation which are all syllables in a language unknown we seek to compose words and, with these words, phrases whose decoding us at the threshold of deeper truth. Where is thus ultimately, the truth? In wear and death we see daily around us, or in this propensity to believe the world is eternal and indestructible? It is wise, I know, to avoid duplication. Cosmogonic theories that have succeeded over time have not failed to use it and abuse it. They have faced each other, they took their time of glory, then they are erased. But much remained. It remains. And poetry just stand up where rationalism deposits its weapons, takes over for progress in the forbidden zone, thus demonstrating that it is still plagued by the least wear. It ensures, in the purity of their form, the preservation of data by which life remains viable work. Without her and her vigilance, the data are lost in the darkness of consciousness, just as algae become indistinct in the seabed. That is why we greatly need for transparency. To clearly perceive the nodes of this wire stretched along the centuries and that helps us stand on this earth. These nodes, these links, we perceive a distinction, Heraclitus and Plato to Plato to Jesus. Come to us in various forms they tell us about the same thing: that it is within this world are content that the other world, as it is with the elements of this world reconstructs that it is this other world, beyond this second reality that is above that which we live against nature. It is a reality that we totally right, and our inability only makes us unworthy. It is not by chance encounter that in healthy times, the Beau identified in Well and Well at Sun. Insofar as the conscience is purified and was filled with light, its sides are dark and retract fade, leaving empty – just as in the physical laws – are filled by elements of the opposite direction. From that what follows is based on two aspects, I mean on the “here” and the “beyond”. Heraclitus it did not already have a harmony of opposing tensions? If it is Apollo or Venus, Christ or the Virgin embody and personalize the need we have to see materialize what we feel as an intuition, it does not matter. What is important is the breath of immortality that we enter. And in my humble opinion, Poetry must, beyond any doctrinal arguments, can breathe the breath.

How not to refer here to Holderlin, the great poet who had the same look to the gods of Olympus and to Christ? The stability he has given to a kind of vision remains invaluable. And the extent he has discovered huge. I would say terrifying, (it led to the cry – at a time when barely started the evil that overwhelms us today-“What good poets in a time of shortage?” Wozu . Dichter in durftig Zeit? For humans, time was always, unfortunately, durftig. But poetry has never, on the other hand, missed his calling. This is two facts that do not cease support for our land, one serving as against weight to another. How could it be otherwise? It is through the Sun that night and the stars we are evident. However, with the ancient sage, if it exceeds the measure, the sun becomes Text in Greek.Pour that life is possible, we must maintain a fair distance from the sun appeared, as our planet’s natural sun. We were once at fault through ignorance. We fautons today by the extent of our knowledge. I do not finish, saying that joining the long line of critics of our technical civilization. A wisdom as old as the country where I just taught me to accept evolution, to digest progress “with its peel and its hubs”. But then, what happens to Poetry? What is she in such a society? Here is what I have to answer: Poetry is the only place where the power is the number zero. And your decision to honor this year in my person, the poetry of a small country, reveals the report of the harmony that binds to the concept of free art, design only to oppose now at the very power gained by the quantitative values. I refer to personal circumstances would miss the conveniences. And to praise my house, even more unseemly. This is sometimes essential, however, since such interference help to more clearly see a certain situation. This is the case today. It was given to me, dear friends, write in a language which is spoken by a few million people. But a language spoken without interruption, with very little difference, but during more than two thousand five hundred years. This gap space-time, seemingly surprising, is found in the cultural dimensions of my country. His area of space is smaller, but its extension infinite time. If I recall, this is certainly not to derive some pride, but to show the difficulties faced when a poet to use, to name things that are more expensive, the same words that Sappho for example, or Pindar, while being deprived of the hearing available to them and which extended, then all civilized humanity. If the language was simply a means of communication, there would be no problem. But it happens, sometimes it is as an instrument of “magic”. Moreover, in the long course of centuries, the language acquires a certain way of being. It becomes a high language. And this way of being requires. Nor should we forget that all twenty-five centuries without any gap, it was written in Greek, poetry. It is this set of data that is the great weight of tradition that it raises. The modern Greek poetry gives a very expressive. The sphere that form this poetry, this, one might say, like any sphere, two poles: At one of these poles is Dionysios Solomos, who, before Whitman appears in the letters European manages to make with the utmost rigor and consistency, and all its consequences, the concept of pure poetry: the feeling submit to the intelligence, ennoble the term, mobilize all possibilities of the instrument language moving towards the wonder. At the other pole is Cavafis which, along with TS Eliot, achieved, eliminating any form of swelling in the extreme limit to conciseness and the smallest strictly accurate. Between these two poles, and more or less near one or the other, move our other great poets: Kostis Palamas, Anguelos Sikkelianos, Nikos Kazantzakis, George Seferis. That is, as soon as schematically route, the table of poetic speech neo-Hellenic. For those of us who have followed, we had to take over the top teaching that we had been bequeathed and adapt to the contemporary sensibility. Beyond the limits of technology, we need to achieve a synthesis, on the one hand, assimilate the elements of the Greek tradition and, on the other, exprimat the psychological and social needs of our time. In other words, we had to grasp the truth in its European-Greek today and to make. I am not talking about successes, I talk about intentions, effort. The guidelines are important for the investigation of literary history. But how creation can develop itself freely in these directions when the conditions of life destroy Nowadays, the creator? And how to create a community where the cultural diversity of languages provides a barrier? We know you and you know us by 20 or 30% of surviving works, after translation. This is even more true for those of us who, extending the path outlined by Solomos expect some miracle of speech and that two words, sounding just and placed in their proper place springs spark. No. We remain silent, incommunicable. We suffer from the absence of a common language. And the consequences of this lack observed – I do not exaggerate – even in the political and social reality of our common homeland, Europe. We say – and do every day finding – that we live in a moral chaos. And at a time – something that had never seen – the distribution of respect to our material existence is the most systematic, in order that military might with ruthless controls. This contradiction is significant. When two members, one s’hypertrophie, the other atrophies. A trend worthy of praise, which encourages the peoples of Europe to unite, the Pythagorean sense, in one monad, today faces the impossibility of harmonious parties atrophic and hypertrophic of our civilization. Our values are not a common language. For the poet – it may seem ironic but true – the only common language he still use, his feelings. How two bodies attract and s’attouchent has not changed for millennia. And in addition, it has given rise to any conflict, unlike the scores of ideologies that have bloodied our societies and left us empty-handed. When I talk about feelings, I hear those not immediately discernible, the first or second level. I mean those who lead us to the extreme edge of ourselves. I also “similar feelings” that form in our minds. For all the arts speak by analogies. A line, straight or curved, one acute or severe, reflect a certain visual or auditory contact. We write all good or bad poems to the extent where we live or raisonnons as good or bad meaning of the term. An image of the sea, as we are in Homer, comes down to us intact. Rimbaud said “a sea melee in the sun.” Except that he added: “This is eternity.” A young girl holding a branch of myrtle in Archilochus survives in a painting by Matisse. Mediterranean and the idea of purity is thus rendered more tangible. Moreover, the image of a blank Byzantine iconography is so different from her sisters profane? Just very little to shed light of this world becomes a supernatural clarity, and vice versa. A feeling inherited from the old and another that has left the Middle Ages to create a third that looks like a child to its parents. Poetry can follow such a path? The sensations can, after that incessant purification process, achieving a state of holiness? They then return, analogies, is built on the material world and act on it. It is not enough to put our dreams in verse. It is too little. It is not enough to politicize our words. It’s too. The material world is at the bottom of a pile materials. Let us show good or bad architects, to build heaven or hell. That is what keeps us say poetry – especially in these times durftig – precisely what our destiny is still in our hands. I have often tried to talk about metaphysics sun. I will not now analyze how art is involved in such a design. I stick to one simple fact: the Greek language, as a magical relationship with the sun – symbol or reality – of intimate relationships. And the sun does not just a certain attitude of life, and therefore meaningless in the first poem. It enters its composition, structure, and – to use a current terminology – this nucleus which make up the cell that we call poem. It would be a mistake to believe that SAGIT is a return to the concept of pure form. The sense of form, as we left the West, is an acquired constant, represented by three or four models. Three or four mussels might say that it was sinking at all costs matter most diverse. Today it is no longer conceivable. I was one of the first in Greece to break those links. What interested me, obscurely at first, then more and more consciously, it was the building material in a manner different architectural each time. There is no need to understand this to refer to the wisdom of elders who designed the Parthenon. Just mention the humble builders of our homes and our chapels of the Cyclades, are, on each occasion, the best solution. Their solutions. Practical and beautiful at once, such as finally, the light, a Le Corbusier could not admire and bow. Perhaps it is this instinct that awoke in me when for the first time I had a great deal composition as the “Axion Esti”. I understood then that failing to provide the proportions and the prospect of a building, it will never reach the strength that I wanted. I followed the example of Pindar or Byzantine Romanos Melodos which, for each of their odes, or their songs, invented whenever a still new. I saw that the repetition determined, at intervals, some elements of versification actually gave my book this substance to multi-faceted and yet symmetrical which was my project. But then is it not true that the poem, and surrounded by elements that revolve around him becomes a little sun? This perfect match, which I find so determined, with the thought content, is, I believe, the highest ideal of the poet. Keep hands between the sun without burning, pass the following as a torch, is a painful but, I believe, blessed. We need it. One day the dogmas that chain men yield to the conscience flooded with light, as it will no longer one with the sun, and it will address the shores ideal of human dignity and freedom.


A Selection of Poems

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