Ovi -
we cover every issue
newsletterNewsletter
subscribeSubscribe
contactContact
searchSearch
Apopseis magazine  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
worldwide creative inspiration
Ovi Language
Murray Hunter: Essential Oils: Art, Agriculture, Science, Industry and Entrepreneurship
Stop violence against women
Murray Hunter: Opportunity, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Stop human trafficking
 
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
GermanGreekEnglishSpanishFinnishFrenchItalianPortugueseSwedish
George Seferis' Nobel Prize George Seferis' Nobel Prize
by The Ovi Team
2013-12-10 12:15:01
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon

seferis01December 10th 1963, George Seferis awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture."

Giorgos or George Seferis (Γιώργος Σεφέρης) was the pen name of Geōrgios Seferiádēs (Γεώργιος Σεφεριάδης, 13 March 1900 - September 20, 1971). He was one of the most important Greek poets of the 20th century, and a Nobel laureate. He was also a career diplomat in the Greek Foreign Service, culminating in his appointment as Ambassador to the UK, a post which he held from 1957 to 1962.

Giorgos Seferis' speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10,1963

I feel at this moment that I am a living contradiction. The Swedish Academy has decided that my efforts in a language famous through the centuries but not widespread in its present form are worthy of this high distinction. It is paying homage to my language - and in return I express my gratitude in a foreign language. I hope you will accept the excuses I am making to myself.

I belong to a small country. A rocky promontory in the Mediterranean, it has nothing to distinguish it but the efforts of its people, the sea, and the light of the sun. It is a small country, but its tradition is immense and has been handed down through the centuries without interruption. The Greek language has never ceased to be spoken. It has undergone the changes that all living things experience, but there has never been a gap. This tradition is characterized by love of the human; justice is its norm. In the tightly organized classical tragedies the man who exceeds his measure is punished by the Erinyes. And this norm of justice holds even in the realm of nature.

"Helios will not overstep his measure»; says Heraclitus, «otherwise the Erinyes, the ministers of Justice, will find him out». A modern scientist might profit by pondering this aphorism of the Ionian philosopher. I am moved by the realization that the sense of justice penetrated the Greek mind to such an extent that it became a law of the physical world. One of my masters exclaimed at the beginning of the last century, «We are lost because we have been unjust» He was an unlettered man, who did not learn to write until the age of thirty-five. But in the Greece of our day the oral tradition goes back as far as the written tradition, and so does poetry. I find it significant that Sweden wishes to honour not only this poetry, but poetry in general, even when it originates in a small people. For I think that poetry is necessary to this modern world in which we are afflicted by fear and disquiet. Poetry has its roots in human breath - and what would we be if our breath were diminished? Poetry is an act of confidence - and who knows whether our unease is not due to a lack of confidence?

Last year, around this table, it was said that there is an enormous difference between the discoveries of modern science and those of literature, but little difference between modern and Greek dramas. Indeed, the behaviour of human beings does not seem to have changed. And I should add that today we need to listen to that human voice which we call poetry, that voice which is constantly in danger of being extinguished through lack of love, but is always reborn. Threatened, it has always found a refuge; denied, it has always instinctively taken root again in unexpected places. It recognizes no small nor large parts of the world; its place is in the hearts of men the world over. It has the charm of escaping from the vicious circle of custom. I owe gratitude to the Swedish Academy for being aware of these facts; for being aware that languages which are said to have restricted circulation should not become barriers which might stifle the beating of the human heart; and for being a true Areopagus, able «to judge with solemn truth life's ill-appointed lot», to quote Shelley, who, it is said, inspired Alfred Nobel, whose grandeur of heart redeems inevitable violence.

In our gradually shrinking world, everyone is in need of all the others. We must look for man wherever we can find him. When on his way to Thebes Oedipus encountered the Sphinx, his answer to its riddle was: «Man». That simple word destroyed the monster. We have many monsters to destroy. Let us think of the answer of Oedipus.

Giorgos Seferis

An his poetry:

Denial

On the secret seashore
white like a pigeon
we thirsted at noon;
but the water was brackish.

On the golden sand
we wrote her name;
but the sea-breeze blew
and the writing vanished.

With what spirit, what heart,
what desire and passion
we lived our life: a mistake!
So we changed our life.

 

 


      
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Comments(2)
Get it off your chest
Name:
Comment:
 (comments policy)

Emanuel Paparella2009-12-10 12:37:04
This very interesting article on the contribution of the Southern Mediterranean cultural world (which encompasses three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa) as reflected in the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature, stimulated my curiosity. A bit or research on all the winners of such an award yielded those revealing statistics on eight major Southern European Mediterranean countries, namely France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Egypt, Turkey.

Up to now there have been a total of 104 annual awards of Nobel Prizes for Literature, chosen from the entire globe. The above mentioned eight countries won 29 of those or 28% of the total awarded, so subdivided: France: 12 or 11% (1901, 1904, 1915, 1921, 1927, 1947, 1952, 1960, 1964, 1985, 2000, 2008) Italy: 6 or 7% (1906, 1926, 1934, 1959, 1975, 1997), Spain: 5 or 5% (1904. 1922 1956, 1977, 1989), Greece: 2 or 2% (1963, 1979), Portugal: 1 or 1% (1998), Israel: 1 or 1% (1966), Egypt: 1 or 1% (1988), Turkey: 1 or 1% (2006). In other words, more than one quarter of all the Nobel Prize ever awarded for Literature have gone to Southern European and Mediterranean countries. Those statistics are quite revealing but not too surprising given that the Greco-Roman world happens to be the cradle of Western Civilization as we know it.


ap2009-12-11 19:42:06
Sad poem.


© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi