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.