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Comments on Greek painting, art, contemporary thought

Our blog is an artistic, cultural guide to the Greek landscapes. At the same time it offers an introduction to the history of Greek fine arts, Greek artists, mainly Greek painters, as well as to the recent artistic movements

Our aim is to present the Greek landscapes in a holistic way: Greek landscapes refer to pictures and images of Greece, to paintings and art, to poetry and literature, to ancient philosophy and history, to contemporary thought and culture...
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greek artists, contemporary thought, greek painters, literature, greek paintings, modern greek artists

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I am thinking of the stars that would claim this privilege...

Alexandros Baras
(1906-1990)


THE CLEOPATRA, THE SEMIRAMIS AND THE THEODORA

Once every week,
on a given day,
and always at the same hour,
three handsome ships,
the Cleopatra, the Semiramis, and the Theodora,
leave their berth
at nine o’clock
for Piraeus always,
for Brindisi and for Trieste
always.

Without manoeuvres or fuss
or hesitation
or unnecessary blowing on the whistle,
they put out to sea,
the Cleopatra, the Semiramis, and the Theodora,
like certain well-bred people
who take leave of their hosts
without uncouth and superfluous
handshaking.

They leave their berth
at nine o’clock,
for Piraeus always,
for Brindisi and for Trieste
always – rain or shine.
They sail
to daub the blue waters
of the Aegean and the Mediterranean

with smoke.
They sail to cast their lights
like topazes on the sea
at night.
They sail
laden with passengers and luggage….

The Cleopatra, the Semiramis, and the Theodora,
for years now
on the same route,
arriving on the same day
sailing at the same hour.

They resemble white-collar workers
who have become such time machines
that an office door
might come tumbling down
if they were to miss work
even for a single day.

(If the route is always the same
what if it is across an entire Mediterranean
or from one house to another neighbourhood?)
The Cleopatra, the Semiramis, and the Theodora
for a long time now and for many years
have felt the tyranny of boredom,
ploughing always the same route,
mooring always at the same ports.

If I were a Captain,
Yes – si j’etais roit! –
if I were a Captain
on the Cleopatra, the Semiramis, the Theodora,
if I were a Captain
with four gold stripes,
abandoned on this same route

year after year,
on a moonlit night,
in the middle of the sea,
I would climb to the bridge deck
and while the music from the first class saloon
played on,
with my best uniform,
my gold stripes
and shiny decorations,
I would trace a most perfect curve
from the bridge deck
into the water,
gold braid and all,
like a shooting star,
like a hero of inexplicable death.

ANN ARBOR REVIEW (USA), No. 10/11, 1970.
MUNDUS ARTIUM (USA), Vol. V, No. 3, 1972.
NEW GREECE, Athens, 1975.
HELLENIC QUARTERLY (Athens), No. 6, Autumn 2000.

THREE LAMPS

Three powerful lamps – the three together
produce a thousand candlepower of blinding light –
placed in the vertices
of an isosceles triangle
which forms between them on the ceiling
of this fashionable café – the only one
that will put up with us night after night –

What were we saying? – three powerful lamps
let out certain insolent
electric light cries
as they converse with each other.
(Now how three lamps can talk,
how they can cry out
without uttering a single sound,
only I and my friends
who sit with me
know it,
that is why we are such close
and inseparable friends at night.)

Three lamps… three cries….
Usually when we speak of cries
the term “sky-high” may be applied.
But here we cannot use it.
They cannot reach sky-high
since the impenetrable ceiling,
a concrete barrier, prevents them
from rising skywards,
and so they break against it
and fall on our senses
with immense cruelty!

Again, even if there were no question
of the term’s inadequacy,
even if these three cursed lamps
shone in the open air,
their cries would still not reach sky-high:

I am thinking of the stars
that would claim this privilege,
especially if it were July
• a beautiful, clear July night –
I am thinking of the stars’ all-powerful
illuminating rivalry,
the stars that aeons and aeons ago
formed a Trust,
the largest Trust, of light.

CAVE (New Zealand), No. 6. No date printed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter!

Greek Easter & Greek poets...


Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996)

Odysseus Elytis

Drinking the sun of Corinth

Drinking the sun of Corinth
Reading the marble ruins
Striding across vineyards and seas
Sighting along the harpoon
A votive fish that slips away
I found the leaves that the sun’s psalm memorizes
The living land that passion joys in opening.

I drink water, cut fruit,
Thrust my hand into the wind’s foliage
The lemon trees water the summer pollen
The green birds tear my dreams
I leave with a glance
A wide glance in which the world is recreated
Beautiful from the beginning to the dimensions of the heart!