Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

A few thoughts about Greek Poetry by Hatto Fischer

- for Sophia -

Athens 25.10.2002

‘Then as today’ exists as a saying because certain figures of thought appear suddenly and touch like an open glance of a young child others, but they, the adults, have disappeared already out of eyesight before they could become conscious of the traces they have left behind.
Today it was so with Thanassis Valtinos. His bushy eyebrows emphasize even more so his questioning glance, but at the same time his friendly eyes say more than the gesture of his hands themselves, when extending them to say: ‘Good Day!’ He is a narrator and within that category indeed more so a biographer of history especially of those Greeks who tried to immigrate to America but failed to get passed immigration officials. That was in 1922. There existed at that time still the village from where Jorgios came from and who tried to enter the U.S. without any health certificate. He suffered from bad eye sight. His parents were shoemakers and on the fields there stood still donkeys.
When a poet like Ritsos views the Greek landscape after the war and after the time he spend in jail, he sees an old woman stepping out of a hut and going towards the fountain. He describes her as making ‘ancient movements’ – a reminder of that Ancient past and as if a gesture can say it all. Something similar he describes in another poem. In it men leave for the battlefields as soldiers and killed there, but they refuse to submit to death. Instead ‘they remain lying awake in their graves, awaiting the day of freedom; in their hands they hold the ropes linked to the church bells for they know that day will come when nothing will hold them back: they will ring those bells of freedom’.
Greek poetry has always been perceived as filled with thought provoking images being projected into the future to bring some predictability into uncertain life. For example that is articulated by Elytis’ in his ‘Axion Esti’. In this poem filled with narrations, German troops assemble Greek men in the land of the poison ivy. Then a German officer commands Manolis to step forth but Manolis refuses. After a second command and still meeting the resistance of Manolis, the officer shoots him dead. Here suddenly the poet intervenes personally by saying: ‘and little did the officer realize at that moment that his life ends there while the future of Manolis has but just begun’.
Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke says about Elytis that he is one of the immortals; by comparison, she continues to point out, ‘we, the other poets, are mere mortals who would move clumsily over the surface of the earth as if we all have but clay feet.’ Indeed, we mortals seem to know only in a very clumsy way on how to direct our bodies into an uncertain future.
A short while ago Socrates Kabouropoulos introduced an Anthology of Greek and German Poetry of the 20th century. The poems had been selected, introduced, translated and published by Evangelos Konstantinou. Prompting this publication had been the Frankfurt Bookfair in 2001 when Greece was the main theme. Much was done in preparation of that event to build new bridges of understanding between Greece and Germany. Translations were promoted and publishers invited to introduce more of the literature and poetry of the one country to the other, Greece to Germany and vice versa. Such investments pay off once supported by the official side. The promotion of the book is indeed a worthy endeavour.
There is, however, a problem once publishers get involved and as a consequence influence the selection as to who shall represent Greece at the Frankfurt Book fair. There was created a list of writers and poets among whom one could find such writers as Valtinos and poetess like Anghelaki-Rooke, but not, for example, Sophia Yannatou or Eleni Lenga Markopoulou. That should caution already insofar with every selection there goes a pre-selection, since it is impossible to present all writers and poets. Furthermore, all what is published does not represent the full flow of thoughts and streams of articulation existing in any culture, while finally translations and publication is but the technical prerequisite for a culture like the one existing in modern Greece to be known abroad, in Germany. There is still missing the very needed receptivity to sustain over time a deeper and more differentiated understanding of what moves the Greek culture along that path into an uncertain future.
That is reason enough to be careful when attempting to make some comments about the main streams in Greek poetry especially if not all comes immediately into the open. Indeed we will have to wait for the time when the new poetic voices are heard or when such philosophy begins to exist that understands praxis as ‘the art of bringing things out’.
In any case, Socrates Kabouropoulos wanted to know the quality of translation. It is in particular important to someone like him, since he works at the National Book Centre. It has been created for the promotion of Greek publications. Since not knowing well enough the German language to be able to judge, he depends upon others more familiar with both worlds.
But to start from a different angle, one day my daughter Maya brought home from school an anthology of poetry with the title “New Greek Poetry. A Selection 1780 – 1980”. Pleasantly surprised I asked her how she came to such a book. She told me after having told a classmate of hers more or less what I do, Sophia brought with her to class this book so that she could give me that book to read.
Such a gift says more than what can be articulated here. In wondering how to express my appreciations, I started to write to Sophia instead of a letter of thanks some reflections. I wanted to start out with the fact that understanding poetry has to be done through poetry as a way to discover through such a book what these two different worlds entail. Above all, there is needed a proper point of entry into Greek Poetry and then try to discover traces of thoughts about the development of recent Greek poetry.
A beginning for these few thoughts about Greek Poetry may be found possibly in ‘Poetic News’. The German daily newspaper, ‘Die Sueddeutsche’, publishes as of late such poetic news. Editorial responsibility for this has Joachim Sartorius. On the 14th of October 2002 he published, for instance, a poem by Chrais Vlavianos with the strange title:

Poem about another kind of poetics


Clear water in a colourful flower vase.
Yellow roses, also red ones.
The light in the room as snow so white.
New snow (at the end of the winter)
That falls softly down upon the conceived landscape.
The afternoons return again without a sound,
Without secrecy, without the restlessness of human beings,
Roundly formed vase.
Out of porcelain, decorated with roses.
Yellow and red.
The water – unmoveable emptiness.

And then: the water,
The snow
For the composition of the pure white
There was sufficient once just a bit
necessarily as the full senses of flowers
that bloom amidst the cold memories of happiness.
(Your ecstasy glance
makes come true, that the imagination
is able to disrobe the memory – over and again.)

The brain pushes towards flight.
Such thought
(the representation of the concrete metaphor)
is exhausted.
The roses, the vase – they do not exist.
On the contrary the words
Continue to fall as words –
Snowflakes of the real life
At the edge of the poem.

Joachim Sartorius mentions in his introduction that Charis Vlavianos was born 1957 in Rom. As cosmopolitan and poet he lives now in Athens where he publishes the influential periodical “Piisi” (Poetry). He is known also as translator of American poetry (Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery). His poetry publications, six altogether, are praised by the general public for their critical openness: a willingness to come to terms with the poetic process itself at a reflective level. It appears that despite such theoretical positions, his poems do not fail to speak to the senses and can appeal to the emotions.
Let us return to the poem again. A first association could be ‘still life’: flowers in a vase as painted by Breughel. There exists also one important painting by Cezanne: while some fruits lie on a table, the other fruits are to be found inside of a vase – as if a reflection of the difference between what is still alive while the other part is already dead or close enough to that state.

The second element to be noticed is the continuation of the colour white in snow, in light, in cold memories that return over and again. In a dramatic gesture the poem lets traces of poetry disappear in a ‘preconceived landscape’, and this prior to the glance out of ecstasy. The latter enables to perceive the imagination while everything remains in terms of reality at the edge of the vase. It can mean everything in poetry is equally exhausted since nothing can be represented by a concrete metaphor. Or to be more exact, finally everything remains outside the poem. This then he signifies as the falling of words like snowflakes that step into real life, there where they make clear as to where the periphery or outer edges of the poem begin.

There are three levels to the poem, but whereas in the first part of the poem it ends in water – ‘that unmoveable emptiness’, the second part speaks about memory and the third about the real life at the edge of the poem. That is not at all a new appearance of reflection and reminds one as to what Jean Paul Sartre said to be the despair of the writer since he could never touch real life, but instead would be sitting in a boat with a bulls eye in the haul to see, but not to be able to touch the water below the boat.
Here then appears poetic reflection as a metaphor of itself. The theoretical position taken up behind such usage permits apparently the poet to take the risk that such a jump into representation of poetry entails: emptiness. Only now, poetically speaking, it means not to know where it comes from. In terms of the senses it is merely deduce-able in view of the water standing still in the vase. Irrelevant to the material the vase is made out of, the poet states merely, it is a very ‘colourful’ vase and that the water is ‘clear’. If that is case, then how does he arrive at this conclusion of ‘unmoveable emptiness’?
Philosophically speaking, Hegel had declared death to be the only ‘unmoveable mover’. It would make partially sense in the way Cezanne depicted the contrast in his still life, but there needs more to be said before a degree of understanding can follow the use of such metaphor transformed.

The question can be reformulated more concretely as to the first part of the poem. Here the poet risks ending up in Mannerism, that is in an exaggeration of the materialised world of appearance in which merely objects, things count, but no longer human beings. The poem seems to breathe a sigh of relief there, where the afternoons return and are no longer disturbed by the restless human beings.

Indeed here the poem begins to move towards such a metaphorical wish as to have a view of modern Greece free of any disturbances. The real landscape has disappeared and with it the concrete metaphor that had given until now inspiration to Greek poetry, indeed allowed those people out there take on a poetic identity.

Now that magical landscape exists only when snow lies on the ground. In terms of identification it is like the white piece of paper on which the poet can try out his first poetic attempts of articulation. Once people go writing with their feet through the snow, the poet feels a symbiosis while writing. It allows him to remain silent at the same time. For it is a simultaneous happening. It seems to bring about such imaginative symbiosis but which is more than a mere illusion for the underwriting of emptiness demonstrates that. In reality it is a mistaken identification of what is being reflected with what can be perceived by the senses. What breaks then through the silence is that writing wants more. Above all it desires an elongation of the thought not in emptiness, but in eternity, though the latter has to be limited in time, if to exist at all. That then is the poetic dilemma and the philosophical contradiction.

Consequently there exists resistance against such associative writings. In Surrealism Andre Breton and others, including Max Ernst, tried out ‘automatic writing’ instead. They wanted to come close to spontaneous writing by putting everything what comes to one’s mind down on paper at the spur of the moment. It is as if falling out of the formal order to which any thought process is confined. This kind of writing can be taken as an attempt to become something that is no longer tied down by own wishes and, therefore, ends up screaming out only those things that remain when this freedom is denied and the discovery made that such an attempt remains at best quite often without any impact whatsoever. That is more and equally less than a culturally acknowledged failure to communicate.

As soon as has been ascertained this longing for an emancipated writing, there appear the first contradictions in the poem. At first it is merely the colourful vase, but then the vase has an impact simply as such: “Porcelain, decorated with roses / yellow and red / the water – unmoveable emptiness.” Why this recurs to yellow and red? Why then only the water, when there was important before to note the vase is made out of porcelain, decorated with roses? The reduction to those two colours is too simple. As if the poet wishes to speak in such clear language that appeals to the senses. He appears to be in despair when looking back upon the poem without knowing if that is due to comparing poem to the impact that water has because clear?
Apparently similar things are happening in other poems as well. It is simply the case that once everything ends in triviality, things take on such a powerful state of independence that the poet cannot do anything against it. Apparently once everything is the case of self-evidence, then what is able to speak up automatically, that is but only about oneself transformed into a thing onto itself. The poem ends where everything ends: in an inconceivable tautology. The poet tries to resist that but seems to succeed only there, where in his urge to revenge himself, he can denounce the own poem because it does not succeed to speak to the senses in the same effective way as matter itself. Consequently out of revenge simple water is given another, equally negative quality to silence the irrationality driving home the conclusion, that nothing can be done outside the poem: ‘emptiness’.
Indeed any writer can become jealous once seeing a painting by Vincent Van Gogh because there do not exist such words at the level of the senses that could express that, what has been put in terms of colours on canvass. It is only possible to describe something by means of circumvention. While approaching this indirect method of description, the poet has to try and to avoid repetition and even more so in the worst case tautologies.

When Charis Vlavianos refers, therefore, to ‘white snow’, it means as a tautology letting language end up in forms of the self evident, that is a repetition of the same, but without thereby being a repetition in the sense of the return of the sameness.
That is why poets usually cave in their poems when searching for continuity and therefore remain so often without words. In other words, Charis Vlavianos can describe merely the suspension of the sense perception insofar as he confesses and accepts that in a preconceived landscape nothing happens:

“The afternoons return without a sound, without secrecy,
without the restlessness of the human beings.”

Given the ‘emptiness’ to be now associated with the absence of sound, secrecy and of the kind of restlessness that characterizes the presence of human beings, it becomes crucial to know if the source of poetry has dried up. In terms of poetic reflection, the real question is whether or not this has to be seen as a consequence of ending in such tautologies?
It is conceivable that in a world of silence the poet can still hear his own or ‘inner’ voice. Also it is true that the changes in Greece itself can stir the imagination, but the destruction of the landscape due to the senseless expansions of cities and sporadic settlements everywhere can contribute already to the drying up of poetic inspirations. Conceivably in the absence of that landscape giving once words their poetic meaning, the negative impact can be noticed in the metaphorical use of various elements perceived until now by the senses.

Until recently the Greek landscape existed as ‘rocks using only sparsely words’ or ‘as islands springing out of the water like Dolphins’, all allowing ‘to remind one of the birth of the earth as if a witness thereof all over again’ (Zbigniew Herbert: A Barbarian comes into the Garden). Indeed, the Greek landscape had and still has in part this amazing nature which inspired Ritsos, Elytis and Seferis, but wherever one looks, construction and destruction continuing everywhere may factually put at risk this landscape of wonder and be lost forever. That has fatal consequences for both the Greek society and its poetry.
Once poetry is muted as never been before, such loss of experience by means of the senses means that poetry can but drown merely itself in another kind of terrible silence. Indeed modern Greek poetry seems to reflect the fact it appears to have become impossible to get anywhere close to reality. Even by means of the Surrealist dream this appears by now to be impossible. Too much has been traumatized, so that the poet cut of from the sources for his imagination can no longer see any possible way out. The poem becomes like an inescapable, equally empty room in which disturbances by human beings are no longer heard.
The dissolution of things to be perceived by the senses is most perturbing, but even more so appears to be that this leap into the world of thought as replacement for experiences in the world makes everything appear to be similar to this transition from the living to the dead. But what was still in the painting by Cezanne a dialectic between the two spheres and therefore a lively tension (Herbert Distel and others said that Nietzsche was still healthy as long as he could perceive out of his own sickness and insanity himself in the perspective of being a healthy person and thus feel the tension between these two counter poles of sickness and being healthy), that tension is transformed in this ‘Poem about another poetics’ into a ‘concept of exhausted life’.
In the third part of the poem, everything is, existentially speaking, only a matter of a dissolving process: the brain presses towards flight, but also such thought is exhausted; the roses (which are yellow and red), the vase – they do not exist. What remains are words that continue to fall as words, while as metaphors they appear to be similar to “snowflakes of real life”.

However, here is a real danger in the conjunction of two very different grammars: the one of life and the one used for ordering things according to some abstract principles adopted by reflections as guidance. For once poetry takes itself back too much, as if to underline the fact that it can alter very little in reality, then such poetry will not be able to affect those things made out in metaphysics as appearance. The words will then continue to fall unmoved by poetry. Therefore, words shall reflect themselves in poems merely as the self evident without saying so much what things stand for. As such the words fall not only as words, but realize at the ‘edge of the poem’ that they are just words compared to reality.

This relationship to words in such a poetic reflex to the lost significance of the senses can be interpreted differently. A friend wrote once:

My parachutes
With you
I jump down
He who opens you
in the air.

Self evident in this poem by Charis Vlavianos is a new trace of despair. Form and content do not come together. Rather they are separated at the edge of the poem. That despair needs some philosophical interpretation.
To recall, meanings and self meanings, or what purpose we give to life, that is not a simple understood thought process. There is after all the difference between freedom, self determination and being determined by other things than what one can think of consciously. In order to reach the highest possible degree of self determination, so that perception defines the meanings of the words used, Hegel resorted to the ‘speculative sentence’ insofar as the meaning of the self was formed like the Greek vase by the part or self being in this moment of perception also the whole. As a speculative sentence about the meaning of the self, it had to be constructed according to the Philosophy of Idealism out of the material of certain self-sufficiency. That is only possible once all words in the sentence are determined in their meaning by the perception that the entire sentence conceives and receives through its key concept. Anyone familiar with ‘dialectics’ as philosophy can recognise in this another tautology having been turned around but with the self being really destroyed by the concept no longer to be articulated at the level of the sense perceptions, but only through an abstract mediation process related by the concept to an ‘absolute spirit’.
In terms of the human being, it has always been the dilemma and reason for despair, once it is recognized that self-determination is next to impossible. The freedom to be so and not someone else does not really exist. After all any departure from the world is not so simple, if at all possible, and the voyage as metaphor for experiences made while going through various dangers is no longer what can be experienced when just in a room and everything having gone silent. This is when still life seems to suggest that every human being continues to exists through something in relation to the world, but then that other reality, environment, city or just nature can no longer be understood at the level of sense perception.

Definitely it is always a matter of the connection between the inner and outer world or between being in the city compared to out in nature (see the fragments by Parmenides). Many lessons and interpretations can be drawn from that, even in relation to what needs to be forgotten prior to experiencing something else anew and with a sense of unity. One thing is in all of this certain: language should not make out of the human being a fool and at the same time the human being should not use language as if a mirror to create a self-image independent from the world in which people live. As Adorno said, there shall be always ‘something’ connecting the being with the non-being. Any self-determination will always be also equally a part of the relationship to the outer world.

Here, in this poem, the inner world is in contrast to out there only a vase, a colourful one, a round formed one at that. It is suggested that this should fulfil the concept of being as ‘filled with the senses of flowers’, but then the poem continues to demonstrate that one is unable to come to such a conclusion, because the dialectic between the immediacy of the senses and abstract mediation can no longer be brought to bear upon language. According to Chrais Vlavianos this is because everything relates everything to memory.
He says it quite clearly, that the only thing still left is the ‘cold memory of happiness’ and again put in brackets (which is very significant for as Hegel pointed out the most important thoughts are expressed in-between the brackets) ‘this is being made true’ not by any but “by your glance of ecstasy”, for only then ‘the imagination manages to disrobe the memory – over and again’.
Before dealing with that, there are to be emphasized the two other thoughts expressed in the poem within brackets. First of all, there is after all the qualification of the described by expressing some other thoughts out aloud. For instance, tautology ends being the new snow as commented upon as a time phenomenon for it comes at “the end of the winter” – a contradiction.
Secondly, the third part begins with a concrete explanation since the part stating ‘that the brain presses towards flight’ is commented upon in brackets with the added remark as “the representation of the concrete metaphor”.

Taken altogether the poem subdivided into three parts dissolves the overall picture. Structurally speaking, the poetics of sense perception is transformed by means of relating to the flowers in the vase into a thing-object while untouched words continue to fall as words. The poem seems to say there exists no longer the possibility of metaphysical experience that could be mediated by means of a ‘picture’ or a ‘poem’ or else what intellectual reflections managed to produce until now at the level of abstraction. This is, however, an error of abstraction itself because it leaves out or rather negates the imagination.

Why? Paul Klee said when it is impossible to experience beauty in the present, the immediate, and if one fetches that out of the past, out of past experiences by means of memory of the then experienced beauty, any expression thereof shall be by necessity abstract. This is especially the case if only dependent upon memory and not any more upon immediate experiences made through the senses in the present. Poetry was perhaps the non ontological way to relate experiences of the senses with the intellectual experience of the world: a modality of being in the world that cannot be explained and therefore not taught. No wonder the despair if the combination but also the differences for our reflections between sense perception and intellectual wonder as experience of the world would no longer continue to inspire us to relate to the world of man and of nature at one and the same time.

In the poem this notion of abstraction seems not to be the departure point. Rather out of despair due to the poetic futility to still affect words, the poet of modern times succeeds in nothing else but in a kind of still life with yellow and red roses in a vase of a preconceived landscape. The latter is preferred because the real one has been lost. Whether or not he does this out of free choice or else as logical consequence, that is not so clear.

In case of Chrais Vlavianos it seems to be a part of his style. As reflection about reflections, the poem demonstrates consequences when continuing to ignore all these contradictions. It risks being forced to adopting the style of Mannerism. For only then it is possible to create poems without concrete location. They can come about somewhere on any afternoon. One would not know what landscape exists outside.

But this indifference of poetry to the landscape has borders, especially in the case of poetry that assumes to be located within such a landscape which is no longer so concrete as to be able to fetch from it elements of experience that could speak directly and immediately to the senses. That then marks the difference of modern Greek poetry to what Seferis, Ritsos and Elytis stand for. Seferis loved nature, yet he remained always humble and was happy when the boats came to fetch the tourists, for then ‘the beaches were given back to the winds’. The latter entails as a continuity of experience and source of inspiration a resting element still to be explored by means of the certainty of the senses, but only if not strived for as the ‘more (technical) knowledge about nature’. Rather the human being remains thankful to God for having created all this, even if not everything is known, since Seferis says, it is humbleness in what we claim to know that keeps us open to the still to be experienced outer world and its natural landscapes. They needs not to be preconceived, in order to be experienced. In short, not so much knowledge is being asked for, but rather that we retain a humble, equally most poetic attitude in life with poetry being an expression of our silent reverence to the beauty of the world.

When one turns the pages of the Anthology after such presumptions, one is very happy to come upon a poem by Kostis Palamas, a poem in which the landscape and the city still seem to breathe signs of life; they exist, therefore they do not need to be preconceived, in order to be experienced. Nevertheless there are incurred already then also losses:

At night we wanted to depart

At night we wanted to depart, to leave the city
To climb up to the Heights, and to the rising sun
From the far away sea in its full beauty:
To take pleasure in the expected happiness of original man.

But the sleep deceived us, in the city we forgot,
And without satisfying our wish, we fled to other settlements.
All dreams about sunlight I saw in my sleep;
But somewhere I awoke, sunless is always my path through the night.

In this poem the names relate to a past reality with attributes that mean something still today: the sun, the city, the distant sea. Of interest in this metaphysics of the landscape is what it evokes: a sense of remembering in the present, that there existed before oneself other human beings. They set sail or else came back home after having been far away. This presence in our life of others who lived in the past marks us as original human beings: we remain in connection with those who have lived prior to us, that is with those who fought with their fears and tried to drag their dreams into the sunlight. At the same time we cannot entice this relationship to the past in its entirety. We only sense their presence and search still for further traces that they might have left behind, but we do not know that for sure. Only the breath of their life, that is their presence in our life, gives us an indication as to how important they are still to us. Only then do we realize trust in ourselves is the equivalent of their trust that those who shall follow will sense their presence when they no longer exist.

Of interest in Palamas’ poem is that memory or rather the forgetting of oneself in the city plays also an important role. It defines the return of the self when awakening compared to dreaming as ‘reflection of the possible’. Palamas attests that this involves the self-evident because at night all paths are without sun and just that signifies the night, namely by dreaming one carries on the light within oneself. Man continues to go on even though there is no light to show the path through the night.

Here the tautology makes once again its appearance. It sets the stage for the question whether waking up the next day means a new life or else the continuity of the same? If everything remains as it was before, then nothing has changed and yet as continuity of life it disappoints because through the prisms of despair we realize how many chances for changes have been lost and with it the possibility to experience the world differently. But if changes affect the things, then it is still conceivable that life can be articulated through poetry.

In Palamas’ poem there is also talk about flight and what has made the voice become silent. There cannot be heard even drops from the roofs in the empty streets. No sound. If so, then there exists no separation between this world of poetry and an infinite longing for life.

Seen in such a way, poetry seems to struggle for a breath of fresh air, for contents mediated to us through the senses. Poetry has taken on also in the name of love that task to understand and to show what gives shape to the human being. But then it will not be a matter of disrobing or undressing, for clothing honours the human being and bestows dignity upon him or her as a living creature. This sense of human beings prevails when not being reduced to merely pure insanity and revealed as if on the other side of life through constant exposure to thoughts without dreams. The latter would let the imagination be without any reins or for that matter with any other possibility but to tear the clothes from the body.

As an act of violence this is often circumscribed in a very soft manner. By this is meant the disrobing of memories until nothing else remains. It says clearly that man risks being lost not merely in other cities and settlements but also where one happens to be at the moment, if lost in memory without memories. Apparently what helps the human being to overcome despair is to forget this by evoking eroticism but rather to loose in the game the wrongly conceived love.
Thus in the end it might do well to recall the opening lines of Katerina Anghelaki Rooke’s poem ‘Lypiou’. She writes:

“The poems do not succeed,
if the laughter does not succeed,
Don’t you hear, what one tells you;
A poem needs the erotic warmth
In order to hold out
Against the coldness of the times…”1

The question remains if the most recent modern Greek poetry has not managed to go beyond this self inflicted wound of something so self evident and therefore remains limited by necessity, indeed frozen as imprint of beauty and happiness once Orpheus glances back. It seems to be fate of these poets to have in their memories constantly that great past. It is a pity that they express it only through despair but then the missed feeling of certainty based on the senses signifies that a certain conviction has disappeared and with it the sense of wonder enema-ting in the past from experiencing life outside abstract rooms in the Greek landscape. Nowadays it seems that such wonder as something magical or mysterious empties itself in mere words due to a destroyed landscape. Poetic words end up joining in an abstract space just the wish that the times are not so cold, but rather warmed by someone listening. Indeed, the terrible truth in modern Greek poetry resonates the tones of despair provoked by one rhetorical question to mask indifference: “even if someone listens, so what?”

Unfortunately in many cases the answers given by poets has become a self-praising poetic speech. With it most they attempt to rescue themselves but only at the price of remaining silent about the loss of a real landscape.

The real questions remains, when will they manage to come to terms with what Brendan Kennelly underlines in ‘Poetry, my Arse’, and which can be described as the failure of modern poetry to make sense. This is the case the moment all poetic metaphors are frozen in the abstract and as fossils cannot be moved any longer even when new thoughts attempt to give fresh impulses to poetry.

Indeed, what else did the reflective poem wish to say about the dilemma of poetics once hovering in self created silence?

Hatto Fischer
Athens 24.10.2002

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