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“And then I saw that I am the poet, surely a poet among many a mere soldier of the verse, but always the poet who desires to close within his verse the longings and questionings of the universal man, and the cares and fanaticism of the citizen. I may not be a worthy citizen; but it cannot be that I am the poet of myself alone. I am the poet of my age and of my race. And what I hold within me cannot be divided from the world without.”

Kostis Palamas was a central figure of the Greek literary  generation of the 1880s and one of the cofounders of the so-called New Athenian School (or Palamian School, or Second Athenian School) along with Georgios Drosinis, Nikos Kampas, Ioanis Polemis.

Born in Patras on 13/01/1859, he received his primary and secondary education in Mesolonghi. In 1880s, he worked as a journalist. He published his first collection of verses, the “Songs of My Fatherland“, in 1886. He held an administrative post at the University of Athens between 1897 and 1926, and died on 27/02/1943 during the German occupation of Greece .

The old administration building of the University of Athens, where his work office was located, is now dedicated to him as the “Kosti Palamas Building” and houses the “Greek Theatre Museum“, as well as many temporary exhibitions.

He has been informally called the “national” poet of Greece and was closely associated with the struggle to rid Modern Greece of the “purist” language and with political liberalism. He dominated literary life for 30 or more years and greatly influenced the entire political-intellectual climate of his time. Romain Rolland considered him the greatest poet of Europe and he was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature but never received it. His most important poem,”The Twelve Lays of the Gypsy” (1907), is a poetical and philosophical journey. His “Gypsy” is a free-thinking, intellectual rebel, a Greek Gypsy in a post-classical, post-Byzantine  Greek world, an explorer of work, love, art, country, history, religion and science, keenly aware of his roots and of the contradictions between his classical and Christian heritages.

THE POET

Sun made the lily white,
The glory of the flowery earth;
Sun made the swan, which is
The lily of a life white-winged;
The eagle, whom he lures
Spell-bound to his great heights,
And the gold shimmer of the moon,
The lovers’ loving comrade.
And then he dreamed a creature fuller
Of lilies, eagles, swans, and shimmers,
And made the poet. He
Alone beholds thee face to face,
O God; and he alone,
Reaching into thy heart, reveals
To us thy mysteries.

THREE KISSES

A Dream flew down and stood before mine eyes—
Who knows from what unknown deep-hidden nest?
It took the face of my own secret love
And blew me with its hands three airy kisses:

The first air-kiss spread in my breast the din
Of bitter and sweet life in waves of air;
And the world’s music sounded manifold,
A tempest’s roar and a sweet breath’s caress.

The second air-kiss whispered low to me
All whisperings that Silence stoops to sing
Over bare wilderness and tombs and ruins,
Songs that no soul nor even wind can hear.

The third air-kiss would bring to me, it seemed,
Secrets from somewhere heard by none before.
Perhaps, by some bright star, two spirits white
Embraced each other as they passed in thought.

ROSE FRAGRANCE

This year’s harsh winter brought me to my knees,
For it found me without youth and caught me without fire,
And time and again as I walked the snowy streets,
I felt I would fall and die.
But yesterday, as I was encouraged by the laugh of march,
And I went to find again the roads to the ancient sites,
The first fragrance of a distant rose in my path
Brought tears to my eyes.

Palamas wrote the lyrics to the Olympic Hymn, composed by Spyridon Samaras (1863 – 1917). It was first performed at the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern Olympic Games. The Hymn was then shelved as each host city from then until the 1960 Winter Olympics commissioned an original piece for its edition of the Games, but the version by Samaras and Palamas was declared the official Olympic Anthem in 1958 and has been performed at each edition of the Games since the 1960 Winter Olympics.

THE  OLYMPIC ANTHEM

( Palamas wrote the lyrics to the Olympic Hymn, composed by Spyridon Samaras (1863 – 1917). It was first performed at the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern Olympic Games. The Hymn was then shelved as each host city from then until the 1960 Winter Olympics commissioned an original piece for its edition of the Games, but the version by Samaras and Palamas was declared the official Olympic Anthem in 1958 and has been performed at each edition of the Games since the 1960 Winter Olympics )

Immortal spirit of antiquity,
Father of the true, beautiful and good,
Descend, appear, shed over us thy light
Upon this ground and under this sky
Which has first witnessed thy unperishable fame.
Give life and animation to those noble games!
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in strife!
Create in our breasts, hearts of steel!
Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore thee.

L ‘Hymne Olympique

(Palamas a écrit les paroles de l’hymne olympique, composé par Spyridon Samaras (1863 -. 1917) Il a été effectuée en premier aux Jeux olympiques d’été de 1896, les premiers Jeux Olympiques modernes L’hymne a ensuite été mise à l’écart comme chaque ville hôte, puis jusqu’en 1960. Jeux olympiques d’hiver a commandé une pièce originale pour son édition des Jeux, mais la version par Samaras et Palamas a été déclarée hymne olympique officiel en 1958 et a été réalisée à chaque édition des Jeux depuis les Jeux olympiques d’hiver de 1960)

Esprit immortel de l’antiquité,

Père de la vraie, belle et bonne,

Descendez, apparaissent, jeter sur nous ta lumière

Sur ce sol et sous ce ciel

Qui a d’abord vu ta gloire impérissable.

Donnez la vie et l’animation de ces nobles jeux!

Jetez couronnes de fleurs Fadeless aux vainqueurs

Dans la course et dans les luttes!

Créer dans nos poitrines, coeurs d’acier!

Briller dans une teinte rosée et former un vaste temple

Pour que toutes les nations se pressent pour t’adorer.

————————————————————–

GIANTS’ SHADOWS

Like moanings of the sea, I hear
Voices ascend from darkness:
Are they the giants’ shadows moving?
—Shadow, who art thou? Speak!
—I am the Telamonian!
And see, within me I
Close the whole sun that never sets
Though Hades yawn about;
Weep not for me!
—And thou beside him?
—The heart of Teutons’ land
Brought me to life. A maker, I,
Maker sublime of worlds
Olympian, have even here
In Tartarus’ dark realm
One longing for my heart, one thirst:
I long and thirst for light!

His funeral on 28/02/1943 , was a major event of the Greek resistance: the funeral poem composed and recited by fellow poet Angelos Sikelianos roused the mourners and culminated in an angry demonstration of a 100,000 people against Nazi occupation.

Ηχήστε οι σάλπιγγες… Καμπάνες βροντερές,
δονήστε σύγκορμη τη χώρα πέρα ως πέρα…
Βογκήστε τύμπανα πολέμου… Οι φοβερές
σημαίες, ξεδιπλωθείτε στον αέρα !

Σ’ αυτό το φέρετρο ακουμπά η Ελλάδα!

Blare the trumpets forth.

Thunderous bells shake the whole country right through

Drums of war moan.

Unfurl the STANDARDS.

In this coffin lies Greece!

Ses funérailles sur 28/02/1943, a été un événement majeur de la résistance grecque: le poème funèbre composé et récité par son compatriote poète Angelos Sikélianos réveillé les personnes en deuil et a abouti à une manifestation de colère d’un peuple contre 100.000 l’occupation nazie.

Blare les trompettes de suite.

Cloches de tonnerre secouer l’ensemble du pays à travers.

Batteries de gémissement de guerre.

Déployer les normes.

Dans ce cercueil se trouve la Grèce!

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