Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inglorious Times

Χώρα τρισκατάρατη, απ’ τα ύψη
σε ποια βύθη, χώρα αμαρτωλή!
Και κανένας να σου δώσει δε θα σκύψει
του θανάτου το στερνό φιλί.

(Ο Δωδεκάλογος του Γύφτου, Λόγος Η', Προφητικός)

The Twelve Lays of the Gypsy is perhaps the most important work of the Greek poet and literary critic Kostis Palamas (1859-1943). It was written in 1907, ten years after the 'Black 97', a very dark year in Greek history. In it, 'the Gypsy poet, an outcast possessed only of his vital language, wanders from creative tasks to love and to the death of gods and of the ancients, finally becoming a prophet and uniting at last science, nature, and man'.

In the poem's Canto VIII: Prophecy, a prophet foretells that there comes a time when Empires and countries are bound to fall from the peak they have reached to the lowest point imaginable, before they change and rise again. 'Thrice doomed', he says, referring to Byzantium with its corrupt leaders, 'Oh land of sinners!', 'no man will lean over you, to give you one last kiss before you die'.

For an analysis of the extract in Greek, please read here. The poem has been translated into English as well (The Twelve Lays of the Gypsy, tr. G. Thomson, 1969).

These are indeed inglorious times for Greece. Whether my country will manage to leave its troubles behind, remains to be seen in the future.


  1. Palamas (like many others from his era) was so wise and true! Beautiful post Demi, I also love the photo of Stephmel :)

  2. oh,dear!..its becoming worse everyday! i can understand your worry and i admire the way you can can watch all this through art!

  3. Wonderful post, Demi! And Stephania's photograph illustrates it so perfectly!
    My heart goes out to your country...

  4. Such a moving tribute! I love how you combined the words and the image to make this powerful commentary. I feel honoured to see my "guardian" here. Thank you!

  5. You are a very talented person and a very special one too to be able to see things the way you do. Dear Demi although my moto is "What this is as good as it gets?" I struggle this days to change to "The best are yet to come"!

    Wishing all of us the best!