Wednesday, 25 March 2009


“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.” - Hypatia of Alexandria

The 25th of March in Greece is a double holiday. It is firstly the Feast Day when the church commemorates the holy day of the Annunciation. It was on this day that the archangel Gabriel proclaimed to the Virgin that she would conceive and bear a son nine months later. Secondly, it is the National Day of Greece, the anniversary of the commencement of the Greek Revolution, which on this day in 1821 AD broke out. Through a concerted effort, the Greeks enslaved fro over 400 years managed to overthrow the yoke of the Ottoman Empire. This day marked the beginning of modern Greek history.

Greece is a Southern European country, a peninsula surrounded by seas, the Aegean to the East, the Ionian to the West and the Cretan to the South. It is a country of islands and mountains, hot dry summers and cool to mild winters. The fertile plains are few, most of the land being poorly watered and drained, and too rocky or mountainous for farming. Greece, nevertheless is one of the world’s largest producers of olives and olive oil with other agricultural produce also being exported to the rest of Europe.

It has an area of about 132,000 square km and a population of about 11 million. Athens is the capital city with other major centres being Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos, Larissa, Iraklion and Kavalla. Tourism is a major economic boost but the clothing and footwear industries also contribute. Since it gained its independence from Turkey in 1821 it has had a history of political upheavals. In the last few years, after it joined the European Union, the country has had to cope with a variety of issues including a massive influx of illegal immigrants, worsening economy, increasing national debt, terrorism, increasing crime and great political tensions.

The poem this Poetry Wednesday was written firstly in Greek and then translated into English. It tells the plight of the millions of Greeks of the Diaspora across the world who have two countries to call their own, or who maybe have none…


Κάθε βραδάκι που το λυκόφως
-το μενεξελί-
ουρλιάζει στο παράπονό μου,
πηγαίνει η καρδιά μου
στην Ελλάδα να πεθάνει.

Κάθε που η μοναξιά μου
-η γκριζωπή-
χώνει βαθιά τα νύχια της στα στήθεια μου,
πετάει η καρδιά μου
στην Ελλάδα να πεθάνει.

Όταν τά αλλόφωνα τραγούδια
-τ’ άχρωμα-
μες στην ψυχή μου δεν μπορούν να μπουν,
τότε που η καρδιά μου τη γλώσσα τους δεν την καταλαβαίνει,
πηγαίνει στην Ελλάδα να πεθάνει.

Κάθε που ο ήλιος
-ο κατάμαυρος-
βγαίνει το πρωί και μου παγώνει την ανάσα
πως να μπορέσει η καρδιά μου να τ’ αντέξει; Πετά μακριά
και στην Ελλάδα πάντα πάει για να πεθάνει.

Όταν τα φθονερά τα μάτια
με μοχθηρία με κοιτάνε, και τα στενόχωρα μυαλά
αδυνατούν να μ’ αγκαλιάσουν, τότε έρχεται η καρδιά μου
στην Ελλάδα να πεθάνει.

Και κάθε φορά που σπαρταράει η καρδιά μου
-στο γαλανό τον ουρανό-
νεκρανασταίνεται μες στο γαλάζιο…
Μα πάλι τη διώχνουνε κι επαναξενιτεύεται
για να την ξανασκοτώσουν τα ξένα δειλινά.

In Foreign Lands

When faint twilight of late evening
Cries out my plangent woe,
My heart will each time go back
To Greece to die.

Each dusk when my emptiness awakes
And sinks its sharpened claws deep into my breast,
My heart flies out
To Greece to die.

When foreign-speaking songs
Fail my soul to reach, and whose alien language
Cannot communicate with my heart, it goes
To Greece to die

Each day when the morning sun rises
-Jet black-
It chills my shortening, failing breath,
And my heart can’t stand it, it escapes always
To Greece to die.

When envious eyes
Look at me with hidden malice,
And closed minds can’t embrace me, my heart comes
To Greece to die.

And each time my heart trembles and dies
-In blue caerulean-
Attic sky, from death it’s roused, revived,
Only to be forced to leave its country yet again
And in a foreign land be killed each lilac-tinted evening.

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