6th Baron, Lord (George Gordon) Byron 1788-1824 English poet

By T Philips in English National Gallery
By T Philips, English National Gallery

No article on Brits that had an interest in Greek matters would be complete without a reference to Lord Byron. He assisted greatly with the Greek war of independence by financing a lot of it and is buried at Missolonghi, Greece after he became ill while living there.

He was another flamboyant, eccentric English gentleman who travelled widely, wrote romantic poetry and was a bit of a dandy. He also indulged in all manner of sexual pursuits. This was pretty standard behaviour for an aristocrat in the 19th century. He lived fast and died young at only 36. There are many busts and statues across Greece dedicated to him and there are also many streets bearing his name like here in Lefkás.

Now that the introduction is over, time for the real information.

Byron first visited Greece in his Balkan tour for his coming of age tour starting in 1809. He met the most important man in the area at the time, Ali Pascha first in Albania. He had journeyed from Ioannina or Janinina as he writes via Missolonghi, Delphi, Parnassus and Patras finally to Athens. He left in March to visit Smyrna for a month and then continued on to Constantinople. He next sojourn was to Troy. By this time it was May and warm enough for him to swim the Hellespont.

Byron had by this point fallen in love with Greece as he abandoned his well made and intentioned plans to visit Persia and India to return to Athens. He even left his traveling companion who wished to return home to England. Byron was to spend the next year touring the country, staying in a monastery at the foot of the Acropolis or studying Italian and Greek. By November he had arrived in Preveza.

When in the Spring of 1811 he left to visit Malta he was filled with a great sadness and a great many STD’s as he had rather overindulged in all manner of sexual escapades. Within 3 months he had returned to the UK.

Here is the Wikipedia article on his personal life Lord Byron.

He is the fourth part of my series of articles on writers that are connected in some way to Greece.

  1. Lawrence Durrell
  1. Virginia Woolf
  1. Henry Miller

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Henry Miller

He was friends with Lawrence Durrell and an inspiration to him. They had a life long friendship upon meeting and he was also another prolific writer. He wrote novels, poetry and plays of the slightly scandalous variety. At least by 1930’s standards anyway.

His most famous works are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and The Colossus of Maroussi which was written about the couple of years he spent in Greece with Lawrence Durrell in the 1930’s.

I haven’t actually read any of his work nor do I have any copies of it. However for a man who had to publish in France because his work was banned in the USA and England until at least the 1960’s due to the provocative content. With some not even being published until after his death in 1980; this isn’t surprising. His work isn’t in circulation as much due to its risqué content and his first novel has never been published.

For details by someone who is more familiar with his work read Cristian Milai’s article here Henry Miller.

Here are the details of Miller’s personal life.Henry Miller.

He is part of my series of articles on writers that are connected in some way to Greece.

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Lord Byron

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Lawrence Durrell

I have already written about the Durrell’s TV series featuring Lawrence and his family mother Louisa, brother Gerald, sister Margo, and brother Leslie here.

Since Lawrence was a prolific writer through out his life I thought he desired a post all of his own. His personal website is here Lawrence Durrell.

I have read parts of Bitter Lemons of Cyprus and I just love the peek into the world of yesterday. The language he uses is phenomenal. Yes some of the terms are now dated and obscure but if you ever needed an education in the English language you couldn’t go wrong by borrowing a few of his terms. You may sound archaic but there is always a time and a place for formal English.

Lawrence lived and worked all over the world during his life so he wrote about the lives and environment of where ever he happened to be with great authenticity. He spoke Greek which greatly assisted with his integration as there were no learning resources in those days and the locals most certainly would not have known English.

His works of which I have some start with Prospero’s Cell which is an account of his life in Corfu. It also includes more well known work such as the Alexandria Quartet based in Alexandria Egypt which links in with C F Cavafy as they knew each other. He even features him in some of his work.

The Avignon quartet is written in the same manner about his travels in France. We are now coming to the works that I know little about having just read about them for the purposes of this post but I will eventually get around to reading them.

His continued employment with the British Foreign Service meant that a posting to Rhodes enabled him to write Reflections on a Marine Venus.

Another assignment to Belgrade allowed him to publish The White Eagles over Serbia.

A bit further along in time he makes a Sicilician Carousel about the aforementioned island. He also comes up with the Greek islands.

So it’s a real journey around the Mediterranean from the birds eye view of an English subject. This was before everyone was required to learn English for business purposes and the days of widespread tourism. So you get to see what the culture was like before the traditional values got watered down with western values.

For more details about his personal life you can read his Wikipedia article Lawrence Durrell.

This is a new series I have started on writers who have an interest or have written about Greece.

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Have you ever wanted to live in an previous era to see what life was really like then?

Best wishes

Angela

More Greek Easter traditions

The egg is a vital part of the celebrations here for it is dyed red to represent the blood of Christ (Kokkino Auga), the egg itself represents rebirth as it’s the continuation of the chickens life but also it gives you vital nutrients that you have been missing out on while you have been fasting (Sarakosti-a shortened form of 40 days). Tsougrisma – The cracking of the egg represents the emergence of Jesus Christ from the tomb that he was sealed in when he died. It also shows that one champion always emerges from the struggles of many. I like the highly symbolic nature of the traditions here. They have lost there meaning in the UK. Who for instance knows why we roll eggs down a hill?

The other tradition here is the breaking of pots to stop death from re-entering the house. It’s why the Greeks break plates at celebrations too. It’s a way of casting out the evil that is around like carrying the eye to prevent bad things from happening to you. You can also have the eye (mati or matia for 2) on stones that you place on each floor to bring you luck. There are a lot of superstitions in Greece as you can expect. Also there are the kolumboi – worry beads which are bracelets that are commonly worn and playing with the beads helps to ease your troubled mind.

There are many wishes too that are said on the different days depending on the progress of Jesus but these are not quite so prevalent this year. There is good resurrection – Kalo Anesti, Christos Anesti – Christ has risen and Alithos Anesti – truly his has. You can always say Kronia Polla – many happy returns/years for every occasion.

Soon we will have the Mayday celebrations (first of May) when they all go camping. Also you get to say Kalo Mina – happy (new) month, Kalo enthomanda – happy (new) week and Kali spera – happy (new) day. Not forgetting that the weekend just gone would be Kalo sabbatokriaki – happy weekend or if you doing text speak happy SK. ( literally Saturday/Sunday). Depending on when Easter fell you might also come across Kalo Anoixe – happy spring as that’s to welcome in the season. It’s also the word for open as the world is opening itself for life to resume once more. Although this is mainly a March wish you can get early Easter’s. While we are on the subject of wishes I may as well complete the set by saying you can say Kalo Martias – Happy March or Kalo Aprilias – Happy April but these are less commonly seen and heard as there specific.

It’s odd Easter continues until the Monday, they go back to work on Tuesday and then Wednesday there off again as it’s a bank holiday. They always celebrate on the day here not like in the UK where it’s always the Monday.

The one thing that was done in the UK but not here is the wearing of the Easter bonnet. It’s certainly too hot here at the minute but some years it can be quite cold so it would be suitable weather wise.

Na’ste Kala kai Kalo Pascha. (Be Well and Happy Easter. )

Angela

Rebetika – Traditional Greek music from the 1920’s onwards

1920’s Turkish style Rebetika is most famously sung and played by Mikis Theodorakis. His music is often referenced in Victoria Hislop books (my effort is here A life of Halcyon Days) as there set in either the same era or afterwards as he has had such an influence on the music of the area. It’s often comprised of guitars and bouzouki. Sometimes containing bouzoukia which are smaller versions as well. Literature from the period details very little from the musical point of view. Even in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin there isn’t much about this. The mandolin must be only in Corfu as I’ve never seen one here Lefkás before. I’ve also not come across mention of the music in the books I’ve read about the Durells family. I think Gerry was too interested in his animals and although Lawrence was interested in a great many things, it doesn’t seem that music was one of those.

I got a bilingual book on this subject as shown above. So it was good for me to learn about this evocative style of music that has been so influential on Greek culture. Rebetika has changed so much over the years through the many musicians that have practiced it. The instruments changed into electronic versions, the venues changed drastically as did the clientele and the amount of money that could be made improved significantly. However, all things have there dips also and many rebirths mean that the style will always evolve to suit its circumstances. Sometimes simpler and covert, other times flashy and ostentatious.

For a taste of even older Greek music see here Ancient Greek music.

This is part of my series on Greek music and musicians.

Mikis Theodorakis

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any similar styles of music in your country?

Best wishes

Angela

Sententiae Antiquae

Here is a list of SA posts that I have previously shared and since they generally have good posts I frequently get tempted to share them.

Lyric, love and translation

The first is an ancient Lefkás poet Sappho and the only woman too unless you count the wife of Angelos Sikelianos, Eva. For my series on Lefkadian poets check here :-

Aristotle Valaoritis ,

C F Cavafy,

Angelos Sikelianos,

Lefkadia Hearn.

Formal and informal language

An article on different styles of writing and why you might perhaps want to use one over the other.

The pleasure of reading

Why you should indulge in this hobby.

Best wishes

Angela

Nikos Kazantzakis – Zorba the Greek

He is the author of Zorba the Greek the most famous Greek movie. It has spawned many restaurants of this name and for most people this is in fact all they know about modern Greek culture.

For those that don’t know this is based on a book. It’s an amazing book that puts the movie into the shade. While the movie is very good when you have read the book you can see how much has been missed out a bit like with the LOTRs trilogy.

The prose, philosophy and humour that he injects into his main character Alexis Zorba is astounding. I have a feeling I’ve written this before but a little deja vu is ok here. He makes a very good counterpart to show how much you can know about the world in terms of academic learning yet know nothing about what matters in life. He makes it his mission to teach his rather staid English companion how to loosen up and enjoy life. It’s a rather entertaining jaunt throughout the story learning about the adventures that they get up to together. They make a great partnership and there is also a purpose that they fulfil. I adore the insight into Greek culture and history that you get from this story. I don’t want to repeat myself too much but this really is a must read book.

He has also written many other books but they are not quite as well known so are more difficult to get hold of. I have some of them, but I haven’t read them yet so I can’t comment on there content. I believe they will be just as good.

  • Christ Recrucified
  • Captain Michalis
  • The last Temptation of Christ
  • Freedom and Death
  • This is a sampling of the works that are usually available. Try Amazon if you can’t find him in your local bookstore.

Here is the Wikipedia article on him if you want some background in his life. Nikos Kazantzakis. If you want even more info go here Nikos Kazantzakis.

He ties in nicely with my series on Greek (mainly Lefkadian) poets as he happened to have not only met Angelos Sikelianos, but the 2 became great friends along with Angelos’s wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianos.

This is the first post in the Greek author series.

Panos Kanezis

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any favourite novelists?

Best wishes

Angela

Lefkada Hearn – Lefkadian poet

Lefkadia Hearn Lefkádian National Gallery
Lefkadia Hearn Lefkádian National Gallery

(Patrick) Lefkáda Hearn or Paddy Hearn as he is also called is another famous Lefkás poet that also made a life for himself that is well documented in an exhibition dedicated to him in the Cultural Centre. It’s free to enter and it’s open 8am-3pm every day.

He lived in many places during his life including Britain, Cincinnati and New York in the United States, the Caribbean and finally settling in Japan. He loved Japan to the extent he also has a Japanese name Iakumi Koizumi.

These pictures are upstairs in a room dedicated to Takis P Efstathiou at the Cultural centre. It’s a part of the floor dedicated to the yearly folklore festival not in his exhibition downstairs. This next image is why.

Lefkáda Hearn taught English and literature while he was living in Japan and wrote many books about Japanese fairytales. He was quite a prolific author and there are copies of all of his work on display when you visit. I have now managed to get hold of his Japanese ghost stories from penguin but his life story is a bit different to the version told here or on Wikipedia.

He converted to Buddhism while he was over there and married a Japanese wife Setsuo. The couple had 4 children together, 3 boys and 1 girl. He died relatively early in life at 53 having been complaining of heart and chest trouble.

This is a poem dedicated to him inside the Takis P Efstathiou room mentioned earlier.

This is a statue by his Japanese great granddaughter to commemorate his life.

He is another poet that has a statue in the waterfront garden in Lefkás town known as Poets square.

He has a picture of himself in the Lefkádian National Library Here are directions to the Lefkás town museums including the Lefkadia Hearn exhibition.Lefkadia Hearn Lefkás National Gallery

Lefkadia Hearn Lefkás National Gallery

Finally he has a street named after him in Lefkás town completing the trinity of statue, museum and road.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter which is woefully inadequate once you have absorbed all of the material on offer at the Cultural centre which is what I have now done. Lefkadia Hearn.

This is the third of my posts on famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets as I have also covered :-

Aristotle Valaoritis,

C F Cavafy,

Angelos Sikelianos,

The bonus post is one on Sappho by Sententiae Ancientae.

Other series include Greek Authors, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Angelos Sikelianos – Lefkadian poet

I recently went to Lefkás town and while I was there I went to one of its book shops. Inside was a copy of Angelos Sikelianos poems. It’s bilingual so that will be a very useful learning exercise.

Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Gallery
Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Gallery

There is also an Angelos Sikelianos museum dedicated to him.

The museum is signposted on the main street and it’s on tourist maps along with Google maps but considering how close it is; I was completely unaware of its location for many years because the sign on the front is flat to the wall so you can’t see it unless your looking at it. In addition to this, the side that has his signatures on it is in the opposite direction but they might have a new sign outside advertising its location if your lucky but you gotta look up. This covert style of advertising is like how you discover most of the treasures in Lefkás. You have to know they are there to find them. If your just idly looking for something to do then your probably not going to find it as they wish to keep everything for themselves and you can’t blame them as Lefkás is a relatively undiscovered jewel.

To show the Angelos Sikelianos effect here, he has his picture in the Lefkádian National Library, Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Library

Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Library

there is a street in both Lefkás Town and Nidri, which is a nearby village, named after him. In addition there is a square on the entrance to the island called Poets square where there is also a statue of him. Plus he has his own square next door.

With his first wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianos together they organised the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals in Lefkás in 1927 and 1930. It was so costly despite her American background and connections that they couldn’t afford to do it again. She went back to New York where she was from for a long time to promote awareness and gather funds. She stayed until his death as the US authorities prevented her from leaving. They also didn’t allow the awarding of the Nobel prize in literature to himself on several occasions in the 1950’s.

He was great friends with Nikos Kazantzakis and there are quotes attributed to him inside the museum. The three of them shared a house on the south of the island together. Another compatriot was George Seferis who is also quoted.

For the view of a Greek who isn’t Lefkádian look here Angelos Sikelianos.

This is the third of my posts on famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets.

Aristotle Valaoritis,

C F Cavafy

Lefkadia Hearn

The bonus post is by Sententiae Ancientae on Sappho.

Other series include Greek Authors, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Does your country have any similarly respected poets?

Best wishes

Angela

Victoria Hislop

I love all of her stories Victoria Hislop

  1. The Island
  2. The Return (based in Spain)
  3. The Thread
  4. The Sunrise
  5. Carte Postales
  6. Those that are loved
  7. (Short story – One Cretan evening and other short stories)
  8. (Short story – The last dance and other short stories)
  • Above is a list that I have read so far except Those that are loved as I couldn’t find it when I went looking for it yesterday. I admire the fact that she loved the story of the island of Spinalonga so much that not only did she feel compelled to write a novel about leprosy but also learnt Greek.

I too have learnt Greek as my recent outing to Lefkás town has given me a much needed confidence boost in that I can speak and understand the language in real time as far as shop and restaurant talk goes.

  • I write books too and one day hope to be as successful as she is. Here are my books :-
  1. How to teach autistic children effectively
  1. How I learnt Greek
  2. How to communicate with your autistic child
  3. Greek life
  4. How to improve your Greek
  5. How to learn any language
  6. A life of Halcyon Days
  7. Imagina
  8. A Life of Ice and Fire

I hope you enjoy reading these recommendations

She is part of my foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways series.

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Aristotle Valaoritis 1824-1879 Lefkadian Poet

https://greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2018/10/15/aristotelis-valaoritis/

This Reblog goes into great detail about the life of the man Aristotle Valaoritis Lefkadian National Library

Aristotle Valaoritis Lefkadian National Library
Aristotle Valaoritis National Library
Aristotle Valaoritis National Library

who wrote the Greek national anthem. He also wrote many poems. If you want to see where he born Aristotle Valaoritis birth plaque

Aristotle Valaoritis birth plaque

there is this plaque on the wall in Lefkás town commemorating the spot. He later lived on the island of Madouri Madouri by Wilhelm Dörpfeld

Madouri by Wilhelm Dörpfeld

near Lefkás you will find a shrine dedicated to him. Aristotle Valaoritis Shrine by Wilhelm Dörpfeld

Aristotle Valaoritis shrine by Wilhelm Dörpfeld
Aristotle Valaoritis shrine

His family still live in the area and are going to stay there forever. Even Aristotle Onassis with all his money and charm couldn’t persuade them to sell their land. This is what Wikipedia has to say about the matter. Aristotle Valaoritis

He also has a statue dedicated to himself with a lengthy description in Lefkás town. Aristotle Valaoritis statue

Aristotle Valaoritis statue
Aristotle Valaoritis tomb, Lefkás Town
Aristotle Valaoritis tomb, Lefkás Town
Angelos Sikelianos poem on Aristotle Valaoritis tomb
Angelos Sikelianos poem on Aristotle Valaoritis tomb

This is the first of my series of posts on famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets. With a bonus post on Sappho from Sententiae Ancientae.

C F Cavafy,

Angelos Sikelianos,

Lefkadia Hearn,

George Seferis

C G Karyotakis

Ioannis (Nanos) Valaoritis

Odysseus Elytis

Andreas Emberikos

Kostis Palamas

Ioannis Zampelios

Spiridon Zampelios

Other series include Greek authors, Painters, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. These can all be found here Series links.

Do you have any favourite poets? Drop me a line so we can discuss in the comments.

Hope your enjoying yourself,

Angela