He is another renown Greek poet who was an inspiration to Lawrence Durell amongst many others that I have or will talk about at some point. It wasn’t just his poetry that was inspirational though. He studied law in Paris, became a diplomat working for 30 years overseas and translated the works of T S Eliot into Greek.
He was also the first Greek to become a Nobel laureate in 1963 as Angelos Sikelianos and Nikos Kazantzakis were only nominated several times in the 1950’s. The second and last was Odysseus Elytis. As you can see George Seferis knew the right people as he moved in the right circles. He was therefore able to inspire changes in the world due to his wide knowledge of the world at that time.
This is why he is one of the more famous Greek poets of recent times. Upon reading his poetry you realise why he deserves that fame. His poetry is so easy to read in English as I happily read 70 pages worth in quite a short period of time. It’s evocative and succinct which is why the Greek language is so good for poetry.
The King of Asini is a poem that includes Greek and references to the Iliad. It’s in both my massive anthology of Greek poems that I have in the UK of which is shown in the pictures and previous posts as well as in the specific George Serefis book that is the initial picture that I have in Greece.
It is not the only poem that references the Odyssey as “Helen” starts off as a play with words from Euripides and then continues as a poem. It’s a what if imagining if simply the idea of Helen started the war for Troy.
George Seferis likes to reference the Odyssey as I found another poem in my Complete poem book that I liked and I’m going to share it with you.
Here below is a poem that contains a word rarely used and since I love words it warranted inclusion.
I included this poem “Last stop” as it includes a word I’ve never seen before and it might be an explanation for why Americans call there children abcde- abecedary.
An abecedarium is a writing exercise that practices all the letters mostly in alphabetical order like when you see cross stitch samplers or you write “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” because that sentence uses all the letters of the Latin English alphabet. For more information and for other languages see here Abecedary. (Thanks wiki).
He was an outspoken critic of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus as he was both born in Smyrna which was then Turkey and he had a deep love of Cyprus itself. He unfortunately didn’t live to to see the end of the junta as it’s been called so his funeral was a protest against this. It was very well attended as the people wanted to make a statement. I mention this in my Angelos Sikelianos article too as he was the main instigator here.
Here is the personal details of his life from Wikipedia George Serferis. For a more authentic viewpoint here is a native that’s been able to research even more than I have.https://greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2018/11/27/george-seferis/
Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks, and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.
Which particular writers inspire you to be your very best?