Sunday, March 18, 2012


Blue waters of the Aegean sea / © I.A. Daglis

... Dear friends, it has been granted to me to write in a language that is spoken only by a few million people. But a language spoken without interruption, with very few differences, throughout more than two thousand five hundred years. This apparently surprising spatial-temporal distance is found in the cultural dimensions of my country. Its spatial area is one of the smallest; but its temporal extension is infinite. If I remind you of this, it is certainly not to derive some kind of pride from it, but to show the difficulties a poet faces when he must make use, to name the things dearest to him, of the same words as did Sappho, for example, or Pindar, while being deprived of the audience they had and which then extended to all of human civilization.

If language were not such a simple means of communication there would not be any problem. But it happens, at times, that it is also an instrument of "magic". In addition, in the course of centuries, language acquires a certain way of being. It becomes a lofty speech. And this way of being entails obligations.

Let us not forget either that in each of these twenty-five centuries and without any interruption, poetry has been written in Greek. It is this collection of given facts which makes the great weight of tradition that this instrument lifts. Modern Greek poetry gives an expressive image of this.

Odysseus Elytis (Nobel Prize in Literature 1979), The Nobel Lecture
Elytis died in Athens on 18 March 1986

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