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Yorgos Seferis, “Thrush” – 3 Yearning for Home

You can find a link to the text of “Thrush” here.

Seferis once wrote,

Any explanation of a poem is, I think, absurd. Everyone who has the slightest idea of how an artist works knows this. He may have lived long, he may have acquired much learning, he may have been trained as an acrobat. When, however, the time comes for him to create, the mariner’s compass that directs him is the sure instinct that knows, above all, how to bring to light or sink in the twilight of his consciousness the things (or, as I should prefer … Continue Reading

Yorgos Seferis, “Thrush” – 2

You can find Seferis’s “Thrush” in Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard’s translation here.

The first part of the second section is beautifully translated in a way that generally sticks very close to the literal meanings of the Greek but achieves a natural fluency and force in English that I find quite remarkable. How many writers could set a scene as vividly and economically, with such sensitive use of line endings to space and pace things out as that first paragraph does? And it’s not just a matter of setting the scene with maximum clarity; we already begin to feel … Continue Reading

Yorgos Seferis, “Thrush” – 1

Everyone says how difficult “Thrush” is and my God it’s true when you try to tie it all together rationally and bundle it up in a paraphrase. And yet for my money only Seferis himself can create more vivid images or strike at your emotions with more devastating power than he does at some points in this poem, even in translation.

Anyway, a poetry lover who doesn’t know Seferis can give herself a treat by going to “Thrush” at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/181853 and just reading it a few times.

I don’t want to be intrusive with my commentary but will throw in a few … Continue Reading

Homer’s Iliad 3: Book 6 and Seferis’s “Astyanax”

Section 17 of Yorgos Seferis’s Mythistorema also takes Book 6 of the Iliad as its starting point. Here’s a link to it in Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard’s translation:

What a moving vision of peace that is: peace and generational continuity among simple, enduring elements of the Mediterranean landscape. In terms of what is directly evoked within the poem, the brief, muted flares of energy and danger in sound, imagery and idea only heighten the surrounding quiet. For me, “Teach him to study the trees” has been one of those lines which stays with you forever when you’ve heard it … Continue Reading