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Odysseus Elytis Nobel Odysseus Elytis Nobel
by The Ovi Team
2021-10-18 07:31:48
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Since the last few days we are talking about Nobel Prizes, a Greek poet Odysseus Elytis , was awarded the Literature Nobel Prize and it was announced on the 18th of October 1979.

Elytis's poems are written in rich language, full of images from history and myths. The lines are long and musical. Inspired by the 'sanctity of the perceiving senses' Elytis celebrated in his early poems the mystery of the Greek light, the sea, and the air. Later themes are grief, suffering, and search for a paradise.

----"I was given the Hellenic tongue
my house a humble one on the sandy shores of Homer.
----My only care my tongue on the sandy shores of Homer.
The sea-bream and perch
----windbeaten verbs
green currents with the cerulean
----all that I saw blazing in my entrails
sponges, medusae
----with the first words of the Sirens
pink shells with their first dark tremors."

(from Axion Esti, 1959)

elytis01Odysseus Elytis (Odysseas Alepoudhelis) was born in Iráklion, Crete, into a prosperous Cretan family. His parents and ancestors came from the island of Lesbos, home of the ancient Greek poet Sappho. Elytis studied law at Athens University from 1930 to 1935 without taking a degree. He worked periodically in the family's soap manufacturing business.

Inspired by French Surrealism and especially Paul Éluard, Elytis started to write verse. His first poems appeared in 1935 in magazine Ta Nea Grammata, which also published George Seferis's works-he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1963. Orientations (1940), Elytis's first collection, combined themes of Eros and beauty with the timeless nature of the Aegean world.

During WW II when Nazis occupied Greece, Elytis joined the resistance movement and served as a second lieutenant in Albania in 1940-41. In 1943 appeared Asma iroiko ke penthimo ghia ton hameno anthipolochago tis Alvanias (Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of the Albanian Campaign). In it Elytis's joyful visions of youth and the sun-drenched Aegean nature changed into acknowlegmenet of violence and sudden death. In the poem the youthful hero is killed on the battlefield and miraculously resurrected throught his youth and heroism.

"As a young man he had seen gold glittering and gleaming on the shoulders of the great -And one night -he remembers -during a great storm the neck of the sea roared so it turned murky -but he would not submit it
The world's an oppressive place to live through -yet with a little pride it's worth it."
(from Death and Resurrection of Constandinos Paleologhos')

After the war Elytis wrote critics for the newspaper Kathimerini and worked for the National Broadcasting Institute in Athens in 1945-46 and again 1953-54. In 1948 he moved to Paris, where he studied literature at the Sorbonne. During this time he became acquainted with Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and other figures of the Parisian art scene.

In 1953 Elytis returned to Greece and took an active role in cultural affairs. He served as member of the Greek critical and prize-awarding Group of the Twelve. He was president and governing-board member of Karolos Koun's Art Theater and of the Greek Ballet. His silence as a poet ended in 1959 with To Axion Esti, reminiscent of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself. The work took him 14 years to write; it was later set music by Mikis Theodorakis. Inspired by the Byzantine liturgy, Elytis combines the biblical story of the creation with modern Greek history. In this work the poet identifies himself in the first section, 'Genesis', with the sun and the entire Aegena world and his race. In the second,'The Passion,' he passes through the barbaric war decade, comparing humankind's suffering with the suffering of Christ. Eventually, like Dante in Paradise, he sees the sun, love, and beauty. "If there is, I think, for each one of us a different, a personal Paradise," Elytis once said, "mine should irreparably be inhabited by trees of words that the wind dresses in silver, like poplars, by men who see the rights of which they have been deprived returning to them, and by birds that even in the midst of the truth of death insist on singing in Greek and on saying, eros, eros, eros!""

Between 1965 and 1968 Elytis served on the administrative board of the Greek National Theater, and then spent the next two years in Paris after the Greek military coup of 1967. In 1978 he published a long poetic work, Maria Nefeli, which was finished when he returned to Greece. Its alternating monologues are spoken by a girl, Maria Nephele and the Antiphonist, the poet himself. Much of his life, Elytis spent in semiseclusion, focusing only on his art, but after the Nobel Prize followed a period of busy traveling. Elytis never married; during his last years his companion was the poet Ioulita Iliopoulou. Elytis died of a heart attack on March 18, 1996. His collected poems appeared posthumously in 1997. Elytis was also a talented painter and produced illustrations of his lyrical world in gouaches and collages.

Diary of an Unseen April

Thursday 2c
I put my books on the shelves and in the corner
a sad Angelica
The portion of beauty allotted me is gone,
I spent it
So this is how I want the coming winter
to find me
Without flame
With tattered trousers
Stirring blank pages
As if leading the deafening
orchestra of the unclarioned

Friday 3
Slant, spanning eyes, lips, scents, as if
from early ripened sky of womanly sweetness
and deadly drink
Sideways, lurching almost, I leaned into the psalms
of Salutations and the chill
of open gardens
Prepared for the worst

Tuesday 7
I found a small church all running waters
and hung it on the wall—its candlesticks
are clay and look like my fingers writing.
By the gleam of its windows I can tell if an angel's
passed—and often I sit afternoons outside
on the sill and hang on like the geraniums
through storms.

Tuesday 7b
I saw her from afar coming straight at me.
She wore cloth shoes and walked lightly, all black and white.
Even the dog behind her was half-plunged in the black.
Truth, I grew old waiting.
And it is late to understand that as she walked
the void deepened, that we will never meet.

Friday 10
The wind kept blowing and it kept getting
dark and the distant voice kept reaching my
ears "a whole life . . ." "a whole life . . ."
On the facing wall, tree shadows made movies.

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