loving everything literature, travel, soul & Greece

Posts Tagged ‘greece’


In All, Greece, Poetry on March 9, 2013 at 9:55 am



“Cavafy stands at the boundary where poetry strips herself in order to become prose,” Seferis stated in a lecture in Athens in 1964. “He is the most anti-poetic (or a-poetic) poet I know.”

This is my favorite Cafavy poem.

Nero’s Term

Nero was not worried when he heard
the prophecy of the Delphic Oracle.
“Let him fear the seventy three years.”
He still had ample time to enjoy himself.
He is thirty. More than sufficient
is the term the god allots him
to prepare for future perils.

Now he will return to Rome slightly tired,
but delightfully tired from this journey,
full of days of enjoyment —
at the theaters, the gardens, the gymnasia…
evenings at cities of Achaia…
Ah the delight of nude bodies, above all…

Thus fared Nero. And in Spain Galba
secretly assembles and drills his army,the old man of seventy three.

H Διορία του Νέρωνος

Δεν ανησύχησεν ο Νέρων όταν άκουσε
του Δελφικού Μαντείου τον χρησμό.
«Τα εβδομήντα τρία χρόνια να φοβάται.»
Είχε καιρόν ακόμη να χαρεί.
Τριάντα χρονώ είναι. Πολύ αρκετή
είν’ η διορία που ο θεός τον δίδει
για να φροντίσει για τους μέλλοντας κινδύνους.

Τώρα στην Pώμη θα επιστρέψει κουρασμένος λίγο,
αλλά εξαίσια κουρασμένος από το ταξείδι αυτό,
που ήταν όλο μέρες απολαύσεως —
στα θέατρα, στους κήπους, στα γυμνάσια …
Των πόλεων της Aχαΐας εσπέρες …
A των γυμνών σωμάτων η ηδονή προ πάντων …

Aυτά ο Νέρων. Και στην Ισπανία ο Γάλβας
κρυφά το στράτευμά του συναθροίζει και το ασκεί,
ο γέροντας ο εβδομήντα τριώ χρονώ.

More poems by Constantine C. Cafavy, in english, can be found here.

An introduction to Cavafy by W.H.Auden can be found here.

The portrait of the poet belongs to the artist Mihalis Grigoreas and can be purchased here.


The shepherd boy who could talk to Pan.

In Books etc., Children / Young Adults, Greece on February 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm

The Sheperd Boy who spoke with Gods.

When I was 11 or 12 years old I read a lot. Mostly English books. Occasionally Greek.

This is my favorite Greek children’s book: Old Olympus.  

The image you see here is from the original hardcover still gracing my bookshelf.

It is about a young shepherd boy called Giannos who lives at the foot of mount Olympus (the tallest mountain in Greece and home of the mythical Greek Gods).

One day he discovers that he can see the Gods, nymphs, fairies and other great historical figures and speak with them. So he embarks on a magical journey of discovery, adventure and learning through the legendary mountain and the history of Greece.

It has never been translated into English but here’s a small excerpt:

Pan had started jumping around letting out his now familiar cheerful cries while Hermes was already tying the gorgeous sandals on his feet. The child’s eyes locked upon those golden sandals, with straps that tied upward, criss-crossing above the ankles and sporting two small wings, one on the inside and one on the outside, making them appear like birds’ wings.

– These sandals are surely divine, the shepherd boy muttered in admiration.

– Of course they are divine. These take me wherever I want, fast like the wind’s breath, over endless lands and foaming seas.

Giannos’ eyes opened wide.

– What if someone else wears them?

– My winged sandals? And who would wear them? Am I not supposedly the messenger of the gods? Did I not make them myself, weaving patiently and with incredible craft the thinnest branches of myrtle?

– It would seem that he wants you to lend them to him, interjected Pan laughing out loud. Not that he ever gave them to me either, not for one little minute, silly shepherd boy. But I, being your friend have arranged everything for you, everything will be just fine and dandy, you hear … foolish child.


Written in the 1970’s by Fani Papalouka, this book is a gem of historical fantasy for children.

It is rarely found in print anymore. Pity.

good psychiatrists & bad policemen.

In Greece, Poetry on February 18, 2013 at 8:41 am

Good psychiatrists & Bad cops.

Katerina Gogou* wrote:

They have all these ways
and everyday routine you get used to
they’ve made us dogs
ashamed of holiday
proud of unemployment
That’s how it is.
They are waiting for us at the corner
good psychiatrists and bad policemen.

In Greek:
Έχουν όλους τους τρόπους αυτοί
και την καθημερινότητα που συνηθίζεις
σκυλιά μας έχουν κάνει
να ντρεπόμαστε για την αργία
περήφανοι για την ανεργία
Έτσι είναι.
Μας περιμένουν στη γωνία
καλοί ψυχίατροι και κακοί αστυνόμοι.

(*A poetess who chose to live in the margin but loomed larger than life until the day she took her own life in 1993. She was then 53 years old.

 Born in 1940 in Athens she began as a mainstream actress but progressively morphed into an engagé literary figure committed to anarchy & the radical left. She wrote poems, lived off cigarettes, alcohol, pills & never minced words. 

Her first collection of poems, entitled “three clicks to the left” was published in 1978.)

50 shades of sea on a grey day.

In All, Zakynthos / Zante on February 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

50 shades of sea.

Kambi. Zakynthos. Greece.

I can’t recall another winter that fuelled so many thoughts of summer.

It’s not that I usually enjoy winter, but I do respect its occupation. Winter is dignified. Elegant. Ergonomic. Metallic.

Winter loves its work.

Summer is indecent. Uncoordinated. Pyrotechnic. Fluorescent.

Summer loves itself.

I long for the vanity of summer.

Love captured. Breath caught.

In All, Greece, Travel on February 14, 2013 at 9:08 am

Love captured.

Galloping. White. Vehement. In the wildest place in Greece.