Life Immovable - First Part
by Kostes Palamas
1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


Punctuation, spelling and obvious printer's errors have been corrected. Footnotes from the original text have been collated at the end of this e-book and references to them have been amended according to the new footnote numbering used in this e-book.










The translations contained in the present volume were undertaken since the beginning of the great war when communication with Greece and access to my sources of information were always difficult and at times impossible. In hastening to present them to the English speaking public before discussing them with the poet himself and my friends in Athens, I am only yielding to the urgent requests of friends on both sides of the Atlantic who have regarded my delay with justifiable impatience. I am thoroughly conscious of the shortcomings that were bound to result from the above difficulties and from the interruption caused by my two years' service in the American army; and were it not for the encouragement and loyal assistance of those interested in my work it would have been impossible for me to bring it at all before the public. My earnest effort has been to be as faithful to the poet as possible, and for this reason I have not attempted to render rime, a dangerous obstacle to a natural expression of the poet's thought and diction. But I hope that the critics will judge my work as that of a mere pioneer. I know there is value in the theme; and if this value is made sufficiently evident to arouse the interest of poetry lovers in the achievements of contemporary Greece I shall have reaped my best reward.

I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Christos N. Lambrakis of Athens for the information which he has always been willing to furnish me regarding various dark points in the work translated; to Mrs. Eveleth Winslow of Washington for many valuable suggestions and criticisms; and above all to Professor Clifford H. Moore of Harvard University for the interest he has shown in the work and the readiness with which he has found time in the midst of his duties to take charge of my manuscript in my absence and to assist in seeing it through the press.


WASHINGTON, D.C. July 7, 1919.



















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.

KOSTES PALAMAS, Preface to The Twelve Words of the Gypsy.

Kostes Palamas ... is raised not only above other poets of Modern Greece but above all the poets of contemporary Europe. Though he is not the most known ... he is incontestably the greatest.

EUGENE CLEMENT, Revue des Etudes Grecques.


Kostes Palamas! A name I hated once with all the sincerity of a young and blind enthusiast as the name of a traitor. This is no exaggeration. I was a student in the third class of an Athenian Gymnasion in 1901, when the Gospel Riots stained with blood the streets of Athens. The cause of the riots was a translation of the New Testament into the people's tongue by Alexandros Pallis, one of the great leaders of the literary renaissance of Modern Greece. The translation appeared in series in the daily newspaper Akropolis. The students of the University, animated by the fiery speeches of one of their Professors, George Mistriotes, the bulwark of the unreconcilable Purists, who would model the modern language of Greece after the ancient, regarded this translation as a treacherous profanation both of the sacred text and of the national speech. The demotikists, branded under the name of [Greek: Malliaroi] "the hairy ones," were thought even by serious people to be national traitors, the creators of a mysterious propaganda seeking to crush the aspirations of the Greek people by showing that their language was not the ancient Greek language and that they were not the heirs of Ancient Greece.

Three names among the "Hairy Ones" were the object of universal detestation: John Psicharis, the well known Greek Professor in Paris, the author of many works and of the first complete Grammar of the people's idiom; Alexandros Pallis, the translator of the Iliad and of the New Testament; and Kostes Palamas, secretary of the University of Athens, the poet of this "anti-nationalistic" faction. Against them the bitterest invectives were cast. The University students and, with them, masses of people who joined without understanding the issue, paraded uncontrollable through the streets of Athens, broke down the establishment of the Akropolis, in which Pallis' vulgate version appeared, and demanded in all earnestness of the Metropolitan that he should renew the medieval measure of excommunication against all followers of the "Hairy Ones."

Fortunately, the head of the Greek Church in Athens saved the Institution which he represented from an indelible shame by resisting the popular cries to the end. But the rioters became so violent that arms had to be used against them, resulting in the death of eight students and the wounding of about sixty others. This was utilized by politicians opposing the government: fiery speeches denouncing the measures adopted were heard in Parliament; the victims were eulogized as great martyrs of a sacred cause; and popular feeling ran so high that the Cabinet had to resign and the Metropolitan was forced to abdicate and die an exile in a monastery on the Island of Salamis. It was then that I first imbibed hatred against the "Hairy Ones" and Palamas.

About two years later, I had entered the University of Athens when another riot was started by the students after another fiery speech delivered by our puristic hero, Professor Mistriotes, against the performance of Aeschylus' Oresteia at the Royal Theatre in a popular translation made by Mr. Soteriades and considered too vulgar for puristic ears. This time, too, the riot was quelled, but not until one innocent passer-by had been killed. I am ashamed to confess that on that occasion I was actually among the rioters. It was the day after the riot that I first saw Palamas himself. He was standing before one of the side entrances to the University building when my companion showed him to me with a hateful sneer:

"Look at him!"

"Who is it?"

"The worst of them all, Palamas!"

I paused for a moment to have a full view of this notorious criminal. Rather short and compact in frame, he stood with eyes directed towards the sunlight streaming on the marble covered ground of the yard. He held a cane with both his hands and seemed to be thinking. Once or twice he glanced at the wall as if he were reading something, but again he turned towards the sunlight with an expression of sorrow on his face. There was nothing conspicuous about him, nothing aggressive. His rather pale face, furrowed brow, and meditative attitude were marks of a quiet, retiring, modest man. Do traitors then look so human? From the end of the colonnade, I watched him carefully until he turned away and entered the building. Then I followed him and walked up to the same entrance; on the wall, an inscription was scratched in heavy pencil strokes:

"Down with Palamas! the bought one! the traitor!"

At last my humanity was aroused, and the first rays of sympathy began to dispel my hatred. That remorseless inscription could not be true of this man, I thought, and I hurried to the library to read some of his work for the first time that I might form an opinion about him myself. Unfortunately, the verses on which I happened to come were too deep for my intellect, and I had not the patience to read them twice. I was so absolutely sure of the power of my mind that I ascribed my lack of understanding to the poet. Then his poems were so different from the easy, rhythmic, oratorical verses on which I had been brought up. In Palamas, I missed those pleasant trivialities which attract a boy's mind in poetry. One thing, however, was clear to me even then. Dark and unintelligible though his poems appeared, they were certainly full of a deep, passionate feeling, a feeling that haunted my thoughts long after I had closed his book in despair. From that day, I condescended to think of him as of a sincere follower of a wrong cause, as of a sheep that had been led astray.

Years went by. I was no more in Greece. I had come to another country, where a new language, a new history, a new literature opened before me. Here, at last, I began to assume a reasonable attitude towards the question of the language of my old country, and here first I could read Palamas with understanding. Gradually, his greatness began to dawn on me, and, finally, my admiration for him had grown so much that when on April, 1914, I reached Greece as a travelling fellow from Harvard University, I had decided to concentrate my studies during the five months I was planning to spend there upon him and his work. With his work, I did spend many long and pleasant hours. But him I visited only once. The man from whom I had once shrunk as from a monster of evil, now I shunned for fear I had not yet learned to admire in accordance with his greatness. Owing to the urgent demand of an old classmate, Dr. Ch. N. Lambrakis, who knew the poet, I went to see him one April afternoon in his office at the University with my friend and fellow traveller, Mr. Francis P. Farquhar. Mr. Palamas was sitting at his official desk; but as soon as we entered he rose to receive us and then sat modestly in the corner of a sofa. He had changed very little in appearance since the time of the riots, and the more I looked at him the more I recognized the very same image which I had kept in my mind from the first encounter I had with him in the University colonnade ten years before. Perhaps, the furrows of his brow had now become deeper; the white hairs, more numerous. His eyes were still the same fiery eyes penetrating wherever they lit beneath the surface of things and often turning away from the present into the world of thought. His hands moved quietly; his voice was clear and sonant; his words were few and polite. Unassuming in his manner, he seemed more eager to receive knowledge than to talk about himself and his work. He asked us questions about America and its literary life: Is Poe read and appreciated? Is Walt Whitman still popular? He admired them both; he had a great craving for the new; and to read things about America fascinated him. When we rose to leave, we realized that we had been doing the talking, but on both of us the personality of the man, reserved and unobstrusive though he was, had made a deep and lasting impression.

This was the only visit I had with him. But I saw him more than once walk in the streets of Athens and among the plane trees of Zappeion by the banks of Ilissus, or sitting alone at a table of some unfrequented coffeehouse, always far from the crowd. It was only after I had returned to America that I wrote to him for permission to translate some of his works. The answer came laden with the same modesty which is so prominent a characteristic of the man. He is afraid I am exaggerating the value of his work, and he calls himself a mere laborer of the verse. Certainly he has been a faithful laborer for a cause which a generation ago seemed hopeless. But through his faith and power, he has snatched the crown of victory from the hands of Time, and he may now be acclaimed as a new World-Poet.

"The poetic work of Kostes Palamas," says Eugene Clement, a French critic, in a recent article on the poet, "presents itself today with an imposing greatness. Without speaking about his early collections, in which already a talent of singular power is revealed, we may say that the four or five volumes of verse, which he has published during the last ten years raise him beyond comparison not only above all poets of Modern Greece but above all poets of contemporary Europe. Though he is not the most famous—owing to his overshadowing modesty and to the language he writes, which is little read beyond the borders of Hellenism—he is incontestably the greatest. The breadth of his views on the world and on humanity, on the history and soul of his race, in short, on all problems that agitate modern thought, places him in the first rank among those who have had the gift to clothe the philosophic idea in the sumptuous mantle of poetry. On the other hand, the vigor and richness of his imagination, the penetrating warmth of his feeling, the exquisite perfection of his art, and his gifted style manifest in him a poetic temperament of an exceptional fulness that was bound to give birth to great masterpieces."



Kostes Palamas was born in Patras sixty years ago. Patras is one of the most ancient towns in Greece, known even in mythical times as Aroe, the seat of King Eumelus, "rich in flocks." It became especially prominent after the reign of Augustus as a centre of commerce and industry. Its factories of silk were renowned in Byzantine times, and its commanding position attracted the Crusaders and the Venetians as a military base for the conquest of the Peloponnesus. The citadel walls that crown the hill, on the slopes of which the modern city descends amphitheatrically into the sea, are remnants of Venetian fortifications. In the history of Modern Greece, it is a hallowed spot; for it was here that on April 4, 1821, the standard of the War of Liberation was first raised before a band of warriors kneeling before the altar of Hagia Laura, while Germanos, the archbishop of the city, prayed for the success of their arms. The view which the city commands over the sapphire spaces of the Corinthian Gulf and the purple shadows of the mountains rising from its waters in all directions are superb, and the sunsets, that evening after evening revel in colors there, are among the most magnificent in Greece. A beauty worthy of life dwells over the vine-clad hills, while the mountain kings that rise about are hoary with age and fame. The eye wanders from the purple-laden cliffs of Kylene to the opal mantles of the sea and from the peaks of Parnassus to the lofty range of Kiona. This is the background of one of Palamas' "Hundred Voices," a collection of short lyrics in the volume entitled Life Immovable:

Far glimmered the sea, and the harvest darkened the threshing floors; I cared not for the harvest and looked not on the threshing floors; For I stood on the end of the sea, and thee I beheld from afar, O white, ethereal Liakoura, waiting that from thy midst Parnassus, the ancient, shine forth and the Nine Fair Sisters of Song. Yet, what if the fate of Parnassus is changed? What if the Nine Fair Sisters are gone? Thou standest still, O Liakoura, young and for ever one, O thou Muse of a future Rhythm and a Beauty still to be born.

To his birth place, the poet dedicates one of his collection of sonnets entitled "Fatherlands" and contained in the same volume. It is the first of the series:

Where with its many ships the harbor moans, The land spreads beaten by the billows wild, Remembering not even as a dream Her ancient silkworks, carriers of wealth.

The vineyards, filled with fruit, now make her rich; And on her brow, an aged crown she wears, A castle that the strangers, Franks or Turks, Thirst for, since Venice founded it with might.

O'er her a mountain stands, a sleepless watch; And white like dawn, Parnassus shimmers far Aloft with midland Zygos at his side.

Here I first opened to the day mine eyes; And here my memory weaves a dream dream-born, An image faint, half-vanished, fair—a mother.


But in Patras, the child did not stay long. His early home seems to have been broken up by the death of his mother, and we find him next in Missolonghi, another glorious spot in the history of Modern Greece. It does not pride itself on its antiquity. It developed late in the Middle Ages from a fishing hamlet colonized by people who were attracted by the abundance of fish in the lagoon separating the town from the sea. This lagoon lies across the Corinthian Gulf to the northwest of Patras, hardly an hour's sail from it. Its shallow waters, which can be traversed only by small flat-bottomed dories propelled with poles, extend between the mouths of the Phidaris and the Achelooes, and are studded with small islets just emerging above the face of the lagoon and covered with rushes. Two of these islets, Vassiladi and Kleisova, attained great fame by the heroic resistance of their garrisons against the forces of Kioutachi and Imbrahim, Pashas in the War of Liberation. The town itself is a shrine of patriotism for modern Greeks. For from 1822 to 1826, with its humble walls hardly stronger than fences, it sustained the attacks of very superior forces, and its ground was hallowed by the blood of many national heroes. Just outside its walls lies the "Heroes' Garden" or "Herooen," where under the shadows of eucalyptus and cypress trees, Marcos Bozzaris, Mavromichalis, the philhellene General Coreman, and Lord Byron's heart are buried. It was during the second siege that Byron died here in the midst of his noble efforts for the freedom of Greece. The fall of the city brought about by famine is the most glorious defeat in the history of the Greek Revolution. The garrison of three thousand soldiers with six thousand unarmed persons including women and children, unwilling to surrender, attempted to break through the Turkish lines. But only one-sixth managed to escape. The rest were driven back and mercilessly cut down by their pursuers. Many took refuge in the powder magazines of the city and waited until the Turks drew up in great numbers; then they set fire to the powder and blew up friends and foes alike. The second sonnet of Palamas' "Fatherlands" is devoted to this lagoon city:

Upon the lake, the island-studded, where The breeze of May, grown strong with sea-brine, stirs The seashore strewn with seaweed far away, The Fates cast me a little child thrice orphan.

'Tis there the northwind battles mightily Upon the southwind; and the high tide on The low; and far into the main's abyss The dazzling coral of the sun is sinking.

There stands Varassova, the triple-headed; And from her heights, a lady from her tower, The moon bends o'er the waters lying still.

But innocent peace, the peace that is a child's, Not even there I knew; but only sorrow And, what is now a fire—the spirit's spark.

Here then, "the spirit's spark" was first kindled, and here, in the city of his ancestors, the poet was born. The swampy meadows overgrown with rushes and surrounded with violet mountains, the city with its narrow crooked streets and low-roofed houses, the lagoon with its still shallow waters and modest islets, the life of townsmen and peasants with their humbles occupations, passions, and legends, above all, the picturesque distinctness of this somewhat isolated place, secluded, as it seems, in an atmosphere laden with national lore—these were the incentives which stirred Palamas in his quest of song. They have stamped their image on all his work, but their most distinct reflection is found in The Lagoon's Regrets, which is filled with memories of the poet's early life in a world he always remembers with affection:

Imagination flies to hells and stars, A witch beguiling, an enchantress strange; But ours the Heart remains and binds both life And love with the native soil, nor seems to die.

Peaks, depths, I sought Eurydice of old: "What longing moans within me now, new-born? Would that I were a fisherman at work, Waking thy sleeping waters with my oar, O Missolonghi!"

Humble but natural in feeling is the appeal to a friend of his childhood days:

The peasant's huts in Midfield For us, old friend, are waiting: Come as of old to eat The fresh-made cheese, and taste The hard-made loaf of cornbread.

Come, and drink the milk drawn pure; And filled with dew and gladness, Stir up the hunger of the youth Beside you, buxom lasses.

Here, too, he sings of the "crystal salt that is drawn snow-white from the lake"; of the rain "that always weeps" and of the conquering tides. Here he listens to the whispers of the waves while they murmur with each other with restrained pride; and here over Byron's grave he dreams of the great poet of Greece, who will come to ride on Byron's winged horse. The poems of this collection are short but exquisitely wrought in verse and language, full of life and of feeling. They are especially marked with Palamas' attachment to the little and humble, which he loves to raise into music and rhythm, and for which he always has sympathy and even admiration.


Missolonghi nurtured the poet in his youth and led him to the threshold of manhood. But when he had graduated from the provincial "gymnasion," he naturally came to Athens in order to complete his education in the University of that city, the only University in Greece. This brought him to the place which was destined to develop his greatness to its zenith. The quiet, retired, and humble life of the Lagoon with its air filled with legend was suddenly exchanged for the shining rocks of Attica and its great city, flooded with dazzling light and roofed with a sky that keeps its azure even in the midst of night. Life here is full, restless, and tumultuous as in the days of Athens of old. The violet shadows of the mountains enclosing the silver olive groves of the white plain are still the makers of the violet crown of Athens.

The poet in one of his "Hundred Voices" pictures a clear Attic afternoon in February:

Even in the winter's heart, the almonds are ablossom! And lo, the angry month is gay with sunshine laughter, While to this beauty round about a crown you weave, O naked rocks and painted mountain slopes of Athens.

Even the snow on Parnes seems like fields in bloom; A timid greenish glow caresses like a dream The Heights of Corydallus; white Pentele smiles upon The Sacred Rock of Pallas; and old Hymettus stoops To listen to the love-song of Phaleron's sea.

It is its scanty vegetation that makes the southwestern region of Attica look like a mountain lake of light. The nakedness of the mountain ranges and the whiteness of the plains are vaulted over by a brilliant sky and surrounded by a sea of a splendid sapphire glow. Even the olive trees, which still grace the fields about Athens are bunches of silver rather than of green. In "The Satyr, or the Naked Song," taken from the volume of Town and Wilderness we may detect the very spirit which, springing from the same soil thousands of years ago, created the song which gradually rose from primitive sensuousness to the heights of the Greek Tragedy:

All about us naked! All is naked here! Mountains, fields, and heavens wide! The day reigns uncontrolled; The world, transparent; and pellucid The thrice-deep palaces. Eyes, fill yourselves with light And ye, O Lyres, with rhythm!

Here, the trees are stains Out of tune and rare; The world is wine unmixed; And nakedness, a mistress. Here, the shade is but a dream; And even on the night's dim lips A golden laughter dawns!

Here all are stripped of cover And revel lustfully; The barren rock, a star! The body is a flame! Rubies here and things of gold, Priceless pearls and things of silver, Scatter, O divinely naked Land, Scatter, O thrice-noble Attica!

Here manhood is enchanting, And flesh is deified; Artemis is virginity, And Longing is a Hermes; And here, and every hour, Aphrodite rises bare, A marvel to the Sea-Things, And to the world, a wonder!

Come, lay aside thy mantle! Clothe thee with nakedness, O Soul, that art its priestess! For lo, thy body is thy temple. Pass unto me a magnet's stream, O amber of the flesh, And let me drink of nectar drawn From Nakedness Olympian!

Tear thy veil, and throw away Thy robe that flows discordantly! With nature only match thy form, With nature match thy plastic image. Loosen thy girdle! Cross Thy hands upon thy heart! Thy hair is purple royal, A mantle fairly flowing.

And be a tranquil statue; And let thy body take Of Art's perfection chiseled Upon the shining stone; And play, and sing, and mimic With thoughtful nakedness Lithe beasts and snakes and birds That dwell in wilderness.

And play, and sing, and mimic All things of joy, all things of beauty; And let thy nakedness Pale into light of living thought. Forms rounded and forms flat, Soft down, lines curved and straight, O shiverings divine, Dance on your dance of gladness!

Forehead, and eyes, and waves Of hair, and loins, ... And secret dales and places! Roses of love and myrtles! Ye feet that bind with chains! Hands, Fountains of caress, And Doves of longing sweet, And falcons of destruction!

Whole hearted are thy words, And bold, O mouth, O mouth, Like wax of honey bees, Like pomegranates in bloom. The alabaster lilies, April's own fragrant censers, Envy thy breast's full cups! Oh, let me drink from them!

Drink from the rosy tinged, Erect, enameled, fresh, The milk I dreamed and dreamed Of happiness. Thee! I am thy mystic priest, And altars are thy knees; And in thy warm embrace Gods work their miracles!

Away, all tuneless things! Hidden and covered things, away! Away, all crippled, shapeless things, And things profane and strange! Erect and naked all, and guileless, Bodies and breasts and earth and skies! Nakedness, too, is truth, And nakedness is beauty!

* * * * *

In nakedness, with sunshine graced, That fills the Attic day, If thou beholdest stand before thee Something like a monster bare, Something that like a leafless tree Stands stripped of shadow's grace, And like a stone unwrought, His body is rough and gaunt,

Something that naked, bare, and nude Roams in the thrice-wide spaces, Something whose life is told in flames That light beneath his eyelids, Akin to the old Satyrs' breed And tameless like a beast, A singer silver-voiced, Flee not in fear! 'Tis I!

The Satyr! I have taken here Roots like an olive tree, And with my flute deep-sounding, I make the breezes languish. I play and lo, all things are mated, Love giving, love receiving. I play and lo, all things are dancing, All: Men and beasts and spirits!


So much of the natural atmosphere of Athens and Attica. But the Athenians themselves, their thoughts, life, and dreams have not proved less important nor less effective for the poet's growth. The spiritual and intellectual currents moving the Greek nation of today start from this city. Here politics, poetry, and philosophy are still discussed in the old way at the various shops, the coffee houses, and under the plane trees by the banks of Ilissus. The "boule" is the centre of the political activity of the state. The University with its democratic faculty and still more democratic student body is certainly a "flaming" hearth of culture. Only, its flames are sometimes so ventilated by current events and political developments that the students often assume the functions of the old Athenian Assembly. In the riotous expression of their temporary feelings, the students are not very different from the ancient demesmen. In my days, at least, the most frequent greeting among students was "How is politics today?", with the word "politics" used in its ancient meaning. Any question of general interest might easily be regarded as a national issue to be treated on a political basis. Thus it happened that when the question of language was brought to the foreground by Pallis' vernacular translation of the New Testament, the students took up arms rather than argument.

Into this world, the poet came to finish his education. In one of his critical essays (Grammata, vol. i), he tells us of the literary atmosphere prevailing in Athens at that time, about 1879. That year, Valaorites, the second great poet of the people's language, died, and his death renewed with vigor the controversy that had continued even after the death of Solomos, the earliest great poet of Modern Greece. The passing away of Valaorites left Rangabes, the relentless purist, the monarch of the literary world. He was considered as the master whom every one should aspire to imitate. His language, ultra-puristic, had travelled leagues away from the people without approaching at all the splendor of the ancient speech. But the purists drew great delight from reading his works and clapped their hands with satisfaction on seeing how near Plato and Aeschylus they had managed to come.

Young and susceptible to the popular currents of the literary world, Palamas, too, worshipped the established idol, and offered his frankincense in verses modelled after Rangabean conceptions. In the same essay to which I have just referred, he tells us of the life he led with another young friend, likewise a literary aspirant, during the years of his attendance at the University. The two lived and worked together. They wrote poems in the puristic language and compared their works in stimulating friendliness. But soon they realized the truth that if poetry is to be eternal, it must express the individual through the voice of the world to which the individual belongs and through the language which the people speak.

This truth took deep roots in the mind of Palamas. His conviction grew into a religion permeated with the warmth, earnestness, and devotion that martyrs only have shown to their cause. Believing that purism was nothing but a blind attempt to drown the living traditions of the people and to conceal its nature under a specious mantle of shallow gorgeousness, he has given his talent and his heart to save his nation from such a calamity. In this great struggle, he has suffered not a little. When the popular fury rose against his cause, and he was blackened as a traitor and a renegade, he wrote in words illustrating his inner agony:

I labored long to create the statue for the Temple Of stone that I had found, To set it up in nakedness, and then to pass; To pass but not to die.

And I created it. But narrow men who bow To worship shapeless wooden images, ill clad, With hostile glances and with shudderings of fear, Looked down upon us, work and worker, angrily.

My statue in the rubbish thrown! And I, an exile! To foreign lands I led my restless wanderings; But ere I left, a sacrifice unheard I offered: I dug a pit, and in the pit I laid my statue.

And then I whispered: "Here, lie low unseen and live With things deep-rooted and among the ancient ruins Until thine hour comes. Immortal flower thou art! A Temple waits to clothe thy nakedness divine!"

And with a mouth thrice-wide, and with the voice of prophets, The pit spoke: "Temple, none! Nor pedestal! Nor light! In vain! For nowhere is thy flower fit, O maker! Better for ever lost in these unlighted depths.

"Its hour may never come! And if it come, and if Thy work be raised, the Temple will be radiant With a great host of statues, statues of no blemish, And works of thrice-great makers unapproachable.

"To-day was soon for thee; to-morrow will be late. Thy dream is vain; the dawn thou longest will not dawn; Thus, burning for eternities thou mayest not reach, Remain, Cloud-Hunter and Praxiteles of shadows!

"To-morrow and to-day for thee are snares and seas. All are but traps for drowning thee and visions false. Longer than thy glory is the violet's in thy garden! And thou shalt pass away; hear this, and thou shalt die!"

And then I answered: "Let me pass away and die! Creator am I, too, with all my heart and mind; Let pits devour my work. Of all eternal things, My restless wandering may have the greatest worth."

The same idea, though expressed in a more familiar figure, is found in another poem published among The Lagoon's Regrets.


In the old attic of the humble house, The guitar hangs in cobwebs wrapped: Softly, oh, softly touch her! Listen! You have awaked the sleeping one!

She is awake, and with her waking, Something like distant humming bees Creeps far away and weeps about her; Something that lives while ruins choke it.

Something like moans, like humming bees, Thy sickened children, old guitar, Thy words and airs. What evil pest, What blight is eating thine old age!

In the old attic of the humble house, Thou hast awaked; but who will tend thee? O Mother, wilderness about thee! Thy children, withering; and something, Like humming bees, sounds far away!

A distinct note of pessimism is found in the lines of both these poems. In the latter, it becomes a helpless cry of anguish. But despair seems to cure the poet rather than drown his faith in hopelessness. As a critic, he encourages every initiate of the cause. As a "soldier of the verse," he himself fights his battles of song in every field. In short story, in drama, in epic poetry, and above all in lyrics, he creates work after work. From the Songs of my Country, the Hymn to Athena, the Eyes of my Soul and the Iambs and Anapaests, he rises gradually and steadily to the tragic drama of the Thrice Noble-One, to the epic of The King's Flute, and to the splendid lyrics of Life Immovable and The Twelve Words of the Gypsy which are his masterpieces.

Nor does he always meet adversity with songs of resignation. At times, he faces indignantly the hostile world with a satire as stinging as that of Juvenal. He dares attack with Byronic boldness every idol that his enemies worship. Often he strikes at the whole people with Archilochean bitterness and parries blow for blow like Hipponax. At times, he even seems to approach the rancor of Swift. But then he immediately throws away his whip and transcends his satire with a loftier thought, a soothing moral, a note of lyricism, and above all with an unshaken faith in the new day for which he works. The eighth and ninth poems of the first book of his "Satires" are good illustrations of this side of his work:


The lazy drones! The frogs! The locusts! Big men! Politicians! Men who draw Their learning from the thoughtless journals!

A crowd of stupid, haughty blockheads! Unworthily, thy name is set By each as target for blind blows;

But forward still thy steps thou leadest, Up toward the high bell-tower above, And climbest: Spaces spread about thee,

And at thy feet, a world of scorners. Though thou rainest not the godsent manna, A great Life-giver still, thou tollest

With a new bell a new-born creed.


Aye! Break the tyrant's hated chains! But with their breaking go not drunk! The world is always slaves and lords:

Though free, chain-bound your life must be; Other kinds of chains are there For you: Kneel down! For lo, I bring them!

They fit you, redeemers or redeemed! Bind with these chains your golden youth; I bring you cares and sacrifices.

And you shall call them Truth and Beauty, Modesty, Knowledge, Discipline! To one command obey last, first,

The world's great laws, and men, and nations.

One of his "Hundred Voices" has something of this satiric note. It is a blow against a worthless pretender of the art of verse, who courts popularity with strains not worthy of the sacred Muse. Palamas, acting with greater wisdom than Pope, does not give the name of this unknown pretender:

Bad? Would that thou wert bad; but something worse thou art: Thou stretchedst an unworthy hand to the sacred lyre, And the untaught mob took thy reeling in the dust For the true song of golden wings; and thou didst take Thy seat close by the poet's side so thoughtlessly, And none dared rise and come to drag thee thence away. And see, instead of scorning thee, the just was angry; Yet, even his verse's arrow is for thee a glory!

The Grave

In tracing the great life influences of our poet, we must not pass over the loss of his third child, "the child without a peer," as he says in one of his poems addressed to his wife, "who changed the worldly air about us into divine nectar, a worthy offering to the spotless-white light of Olympus." To this loss, the poet has never reconciled himself. The sorrow finds expression in direct or covert strains in every work he has written. But its lasting monument was created soon after the child's death. A collection of poems, entitled The Grave, entirely devoted to his memory, is overflowing with an unique intensity of feeling. The poems are composed in short quatrains of a slowly moving rhythm restrained by frequent pauses and occasional metrical irregularities, and thus they reflect with faithfulness the paternal agony with which they are filled. They belong to the earlier works of the poet, but they disclose great lyric power and are the first deep notes of the poet's genius. A few lines from the dedication follow:

Neither with iron, Nor with gold, Nor with the colors That the painters scatter,

Nor with marble Carved with art, Your little house I built For you to dwell for ever;

With spirit charms alone I raised it in a land That knows no matter nor The withering touch of Time.

With all my tears, With all my blood, I founded it And built its vault....

In another poem, in similar strains, he paints the ominous tranquility with which the child's birth and parting were attended:

Tranquilly, silently, Thirsting for our kisses, Unknown you glided Into our bosom;

Even the heavy winter Suddenly smiled Tranquilly, silently, But to receive you;

Tranquilly, silently, The breeze caressed you, O Sunlight of Night And Dream of the Day;

Tranquilly, silently, Our home was gladdened With sweetness of amber With your grace magnetic;

Tranquilly, silently, Our home beheld you, Beauty of the morning star, Light of the star of evening;

Tranquilly, silently, Little moons, mouth and eyes, One dawn you vanished Upon a cruel deathbed;

Tranquilly, silently, In spite of all our kisses, Away you wandered Torn from our bosom;

Tranquilly, silently, O word, O verse, O rime, Your witherless flowers Sow on his grave faith-shaking.

In another poem reminiscent of Tibullean tenderness, the corners of the deserted home, in which the child, during his life, had lingered to play, laugh, or weep, converse with each other about their absent guest:

Things living weep for you, And lifeless things are mourning; The corners, too, forlorn, Remember you with longing:

"One evening, angry here he sat, And slept in bitterness." "Here, often he sat listening Enchanted to the tale."

"Here, I beheld with pride The grace of Love half-naked; An empty bed and stripped Is all that now is left me."

"I always looked for him; He held a book; how often He sat by me to read With singing tongue its pages!"

"What is this pile of toys? Why are they piled before me As if I were a grave? Are they his little playthings?

"The little man comes not; For death with early frost Has nipped his little dreams And chilled his little doings."

"His little sword is idle, And here has come to rest." "And here his little ship Without its captain waits."

"To me, they brought him sick And took him away extinguished." "They watered me with tears And perfumed me with incense."

"The dead child's taper burns Consuming and consumed." "The tempest wildly beats Upon the doors and windows, And deep into our breasts The tempest's moan is echoed."

And all the house about For thee, my child, is groaning ...


Greece seems to encompass the physical world with which Palamas has come in contact. He does not seem to have travelled beyond its borders, and even within them, he has moved little about. With him scenery must grow with age before it speaks to his heart. Fleeting impressions are of little value, and the appearance of things without the forces of tradition and experience behind it does not attract him:

Others, who wander far in distant lands may seek On Alpine Mountains high the magic Edelweis; I am an Element Immovable; each year, April delights me in my garden, and the May In my own village. O lakes and fiords, O palaces of France and shrines And harbors, Northern Lights and tropic flowers and forests, O wonders of art, and beauties of the world unthought,— A little Island here I love that always lies before me.

We must not think, however, that the spirit of Palamas rests within the narrow confines of his native land. On the contrary, it knows no chains and travels freely about the earth. He is a faithful servant of "Melete," the Muse of contemplative study, a service which is very seldom liked by Modern Greeks. In his preface to his collection of critical essays entitled Grammata he rebukes his fellow countrymen for this: "On an old attic vase," he says, "stand the three original Muses, the ones that were first worshipped, even before the Nine, who are now world-known: Mneme, Melete, Aoide—Memory, Study, Song. With the first and last, we have cultivated our acquaintance; and never must we show any contempt for the fruit of our love for them. Only with the middle one, we are not on good terms. She seems to be somewhat inaccessible, and she does not fill our eyes enough to attract us. We have always looked, and now still we look, for what is easiest or handiest. Is that, I wonder, a fault of our race or of our age? And is the French philosopher Fouillee somewhat right when in his book on the Psychology of Races he counts among our defects our aversion to great and above all endless labors?" That Palamas is not subject to this fault, one has only to glance at his works to be convinced. There is hardly an important force in the world's thought and expression whether past or present, to which Palamas is a stranger. The literatures of Europe, America, or Asia are an open book for him. The pulses of the world's artists, the intellectual battles of the philosophers, the fears and hopes of the social unrest, the religious emancipation of our day, the far reaching conflict of individual and state, in short, all events of importance in the social, political, spiritual, literary, and artistic life are familiar sources of inspiration for him. With all, he shows the lofty spirit of a worshipper of greatness and depth wherever he finds them. Tolstoi or Aeschylus, Goethe or Dante, Ibsen or Poe, Swinburne or Walt Whitman, Leopardi or Rabelais, Hugo or Carlyle, Serbian Folk Lore or the Bible, Hindu legends or Italian songs, Antiquity or Middle Ages, Renaissance or Modernity, any nation or any lore are objects worthy of study and stores of wisdom for him. Indeed, very few living poets could be compared with him in scholarship and learning.

Nor does he lift his voice only for individual or national throbbings. He sings of the great and noble whenever he sees it. One of his best lyric creations is a song of praise to the valor of the champions of Transvaal's freedom, his "Hymn to the Valiant," the first of the collection entitled "From the Hymns and Wraths," a paean that has been most highly lauded by Professor D.C. Hesseling of the University of Leyden (Nederlandsche Spectator, March, 1901). Here is a fragment of it, the words which the Muse addresses to the poet:

... Awake! Thou art not maker of statues! Awake! For songs thou singest! And song is not for ever The heart's lament To fading leaves of autumn, Nor the secret speech thou speakest, A Soul of Dream, to the shadows of Night.

For suddenly there is a clash and groaning! The joy of birds sea-beaten, In storms of Elements And storms of Nations! Song is, too, The Marathonian Triumpher! Over the ashes of Sodoma, It is blown by the mouth of wrath!

Something great and something beautiful, Something from far away, Travelling Glory brings thee On her sky-wandering pinions.

Glory has come! On her wings and on her feet, Signs of her wanderings are shown, Dust gold-loaded and distant; And she brings aloes blossoming, first-seen, From the land that feeds the Kaffir's flocks.

In your aged summers, A new-born spring has spread! From North to South, The Atlantic Dragon groans a groan first-heard; To the African lakes and forests, His groan has spread and echoed; From the Red Sea, a Lamia's palace, To the foam-shaped breast of the White Sea, A Nereid's realm.

Thinly the plants were growing On the bosom of the ancient Motherland; Winds carried away the seed And brought it to the Libyan fields And scattered it into deep ravines And on the lofty mountain lawns.

A new blood filled the herbs, And even the strong-stemmed plants Waxed stronger. Men war-glad are risen! And the waterfalls roar In the mountain's heart; Men war-glad are risen Like diamonds rare to behold That the earth begets!

You know them, heights, winds, horizons, High tides and murmurings of restless waters, Golden fountains, that shall become Their crowns! And you, O gold-built mountain passes, Castles fit for them, you know them; Their fame, thou heraldest with pride From thy verdant distant country To Europe Imperial, O Africa, O slave unknown!

And first of all thou knowest, O heartless tamer of continents and races, Rider of Ocean's Bucephaluses, Thou knowest the worth of the few, Who dare live free ...

Within the limits of a general introduction it would be difficult to enter every nook and corner of the poet's world. We must even pass over some of the most potent influences of his life. The national dreams of the Modern Greeks have a splendid dwelling in the thought of Palamas, who follows with restlessness his people's woes and exults in their joys. A group of poems dedicated to the "Land that Rose in Arms" and published in the last volume of the poet's work, the Town and Wilderness, form his noblest patriotic expression. The present world-conflict has naturally stirred him to new compositions, of which his "Europe" is preeminently noteworthy as illustrating faithfully the various aspects of the poet's genius. This poem appeared first in the Noumas, an Athenian periodical, and was then published in the last volume of the poet's works, the Altars.[2]



Deer-like the East pants terror-struck! The West, A flame ablaze that leaps amid the skies! Nations are wolves! and Hatreds are afoot, Whetting their bayonets!

With force gigantic, lo, the bursting forth Of the barbarian sweeps on, age-wrought; Oceans are cleft and swallow Gorgon-ships, Castles of might afloat!

What sorcerers, in Earth's deep bosom buried, Beat into shape the metal? For what kings Slave they? What crowns forge they? The tower-ships, The ports, the oceans quake!

Lovingly the dream born of dream flies high Air wandering amid the eagles; yet O victory! Lord of the azure, man Spreads horror even there.

Methinks the Niebelungen of the Night Startle sun's radiance ... And ye, the Rhine's Water-born Nymphs, are lashed and swept away By monstrous hurricanes.

Siegfried, the hero of the golden hair, Makes men and elements before him kneel. War is the arbiter of rising worlds; And Violence, arbitress.

Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Alemanni, Hungars! Europe, a viper! And the armies, dragons! Here, Uhlans are destroyers pitiless; And there, the Cossacks' bands!

From endless sweeps of steppes, the Slav blows forth An endless squall, the havoc's ruthless vow! Liberty is the phantom; and the slave, The stern reality.

Helvetians, Scandinavians, Latins, Russians, The martyr Pole, heroic Flanders' land, All, small and great, forward to battle rush With one man's violence!

Beating thy breast, thou clingest to thy throne, Storm-wrapped, O worshipper of gods that fade, Hypatia thou, the Frenchman's ruling queen, Blood-bred Democracy!

The Vosgic towers tremble! And God's wrath, Valkyrie, the awful Nymph, wind-ridden sweeps, A rider pitiless that threatens thee, O Paris noble-born!

Our age's honored prophet, Tamerlan! A shadow's dream, Messiah of sweet Peace! Enthroned in judgment stands America. While from far Asia's depths,

The Indian hermits and gold-gatherers With yellow Mongols are afoot! With them, The sons of Oceania, Kerman, And Africa; Semites,

War-glad Turanians and Aryans, Lands that the Adriatic kisses, Rumans, Our brother Serb, a wall!—Let Austria's Cataract burst and roar!

Vosges and Carpathians and Balkans quake! Ridges and mountains tremble! The oceans roar! Five Continents' passionate wraths and hatreds Revel in festival!

But lo, the Briton with sea-battling sceptre That binds the restless waves to his command— What Caesars' fetters forges he anew Upon the island rock?

And there the Turk, who holds thee with dog's teeth And makes of thee a valley of sad tears, O paradisial land of old Ionia; And here, our Mother Greece,

Dream-weaver of unending laurel-wreaths Beside her Cretan helmsman and her king! Wax-pale, the world stands listening and holds Its breath, benumbed with fright!


But lo, the thinker, whatever is his soul, Whatever race has given him his blood, Watches from his unruffled haunts calm-wrapped And he stirs not.

With pity's quivering and terror's chill, In tears and ruins, he plucks a fruitful joy From the great Drama, watching thoughtfully The hidden law.

And lo, the thinker, whatever is his soul, Whatever race has given him his blood, Abides in his unruffled haunts calm-wrapped And meditates:

Old age? No! Nor the youth of a new life. All is the same, Europe and Law, the shark! And never changes—hear ye not?—the march Of history.

A splinter in the powerful's hands, O powerless, Yet sometimes—comfort thee—his mate and friend! The powerful's blind hand even thou, O Science, Often shalt be.

Is War the Father of all things? And is The lava messenger of lusty growth? How can the creature grow from monster seed? Who knows? Pass on!

Even if some great dream be born of flesh And the wroth tempest fling a new world forth, Even if over the tumult Europe stand United, one;

And if the state of a new people rise Founded upon the ruins of the world, Still always thou wilt burn, O Fury's torch, Amid the darkness.

Even if thou wilt come to states in ruins And empty thrones, O power of juster race, Always the tender and the harsh shall be; Shepherd and flocks!

Unless, O man, something is destined thee That thou, O History, foretellest not: An evolution unbelievable To gazing worlds.


The poet: Miracle-working lo, the seed Of blessed dreams, sown in his heart, takes roots; He is like mind entranced in ecstasy, Born upon wings!

Under his wings, all things are images Of creatures beautiful for him to sing, Whether they are roses April-born Or warring legions!

And neither the war's roaring gun nor yet The river of red blood swift-flowing on Can make the flower fade that fills my breast With fragrances!

I am the faithful friend of song; therefore, I tremble not like child before a blackman; Midst blood and flames and lashings horrible, I bring thee, Love!

Thy footprints mark a shining trail of lights New-risen, guiding with their gleams my steps; The restless gambol of thy fire, Dawn's smile Upon my night.

Thine eyes, O Fountainhead of Beauty's stream, Mirror within them all things beautiful: And lo, the eagles of the Czars, on wings Sky-roaming, sail.

The war, when thine eyes look on it, becomes Under the magic of thy glance pure wine Of holiness. The German is the wonder Of deed and thought;

Where Tolstoi lived, all things are justly blessed; Where Goethe dwelt all things are light and wisdom; And yet my heart's pure love flows now for thee, For thee, O France!

Though first I sucked my god-sprung mother's milk, Still thou wert later manna unto me, Desert-born, joy of mine and guide and teacher, My second mother.

On thy world-trodden earth, I have not stood; Nor didst thou bathe me, Seine, in thy cold waters; Yet is thy vision light unto my song, O second mother!

O Celtic oak-trees and Galatian-born White lilies in lyric Paris blossoming, With Hugo and with thee, O Lamartine, Revels and wings!

Dante and Nietzsche, Ibsen, Shakespeare, all, Poured wine for me with their thrice-holy hands Into thy gleaming cup of gold and bade Me rise on high.

A child: And thou didst flash before me first, Tearing the maps of dazzled Europe's lands With the world's Mirabeaus and with the world's Napoleons.

Thou art not for the gnawing worm of graves. Thy gods still live with thee, Hypatia! Glory and Victory may dwell with thee, Democracy!

From the number of the life influences which we have scantily traced in Palamas' work we may conclude that he is a true representative of the great world and of the age in which he lives. Loving and true to his immediate surroundings, he does not localize himself in them, nor does he shut his thought within his personal feelings and experiences, but he travels far and wide with the thought and action of the universal man and fills his life with the life of his age.

It is exactly this universalism that makes The Twelve Words of the Gypsy his best expression and at the same time the most difficult to understand thoroughly. The poem is reflective both of the growth of the poet himself and of the development of the human spirit throughout the ages with the history and land of Hellas as its natural background. Consequently, its message is both subjective and objective. Although differently treated, the theme is the same as that of the "Ascrean" which appears in the latter part of Life Immovable and which may be considered as a prelude to The Twelve Words of the Gypsy. There is a flood of feeling and a cosmic imagery throughout, but they only form the gorgeous palace within which Thought dwells in full magnificence and mystic dimness. "As the thread of my song," says the poet in his preface, "unrolled itself, I saw that my heart was full of mind, that its pulses were of thought, that my feeling had something musical and difficult to measure, and that I accepted the rapture of contemplation just as a lad accepts his sweetheart's kiss. 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 questions 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."

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 5, 1919.



In Palamas, we have found every trait of the Greek character: He is religious and superstitious; a skeptic, a pagan, and a pantheist.... He is a poet and a philosopher.... He abandons himself to every impulse of the Greek soul. But he is always fond of drawing back, of concentrating, of trying to encompass in a general form the sensations and ideas which sway him. His principal and latent care is to analyze himself and his world. A poet and a thinker, Palamas does not attract the multitudes.... With him everything is a mingling of lights and shadows.... But through his work Greece of today is most clearly set forth.

TIGRANE YERGATE, "Le Mouvement litteraire grec; La Poesie." La Revue, June, 1903, vol. xlv, p. 717 f.

With Life Immovable, the poetic genius of Kostes Palamas reaches its full strength. The poet, who, from his very first work, The Songs of my Country, had shown his power in selecting his sources of inspiration and in weaving the essence of purely national airs into his "light sketches of sea and olive groves and the various sunlit aspects of Greek life,"[3] continues to broaden his vision and art through an unquenchable eagerness for knowledge, for an understanding of things beautiful, whether present or past, concrete or abstract. He makes broad strides from his Hymn to Athena, to The Eyes of My Soul, Iambs and Anapests, and The Grave. In all "the pathetic and the common meet inseparably with an art exact and full of grace, an art that knows its purpose."[4] But in Life Immovable Palamas rises above the Hellenic horizon, and strikes the strings of the universal heart in the same degree as the towns of Patras, Missolonghi, and Athens expand into Greece and Greece into the world. After all there is both realism and symbolism in the fact that the first poem of the volume reflects the atmosphere of the poet's native town while one of the latter ones "The Ascrean" is filled with an all-including world-vision.

The present volume contains only the first half of Life Immovable. It consists of five collections of poems: The "Fatherlands," "The Return," "Fragments from the Song to the Sun," "Verses of a Familiar Tune," and "The Palm Tree." On the whole, a careful study of these collections would furnish the key to an adequate understanding of the rest of the poet's works for which these poems are faithful preludes. For this reason I am tempted to give an analysis of the translated parts as a guide to their understanding. But it is by no means my wish to lay down a fast rule; poetry is no exact science and there should be always ample room for freedom of suggestion and of view.


A series of sonnets, the "Fatherlands," make the opening of the book and, at the same time, symbolize most clearly the growth of our poet. Each sonnet describes a fatherland, adding another link to a chain of worlds that dawn, one after another, upon the poet's being. The first is Patras, his birthplace. Then follows Missolonghi with its calm lagoon and the haunts of his boyhood. The splendor of the violet-crowned city of Athens is succeeded by the island of Corfu, the cradle of the literary renaissance of Modern Hellenism, which again fades before the vision of Egypt, whence the earliest lights of civilization shone upon the land of the Greeks. Christianity in its extreme form of asceticism is brought forth from one of its strong citadels, Mt. Athos, the holy mountain of Greece, and a contrast is made between the "gleaming beauties of the world" and the utter absorption of the ascetic by the intangible world beyond. The vision of "Queen Hellas," the classic age of Greece, is followed by the conquering spirit of Hellenism spreading triumphantly from the democracies of Athens and Sparta to the Golden Gate of imperial Byzantium.

But "imagination, like the Phaeacians' ship, rolls on," and the poet sings:

In my soul's depths loom many lands ... And where the heavens mingle with the sea, A path I seek for a sphere beyond ...

Oceans are crossed, ages are brought forth from the past, and continents are joined in making the poet's spirit. Finally even Earth becomes too narrow and the greater universe opens its gates to the ultimate fatherland, the elements of the world which will at the end absorb the being of the poet:

Fatherlands! Air and earth and fire and water, Elements indestructible, beginning And end of life, first joy and last of mine, You I shall find again when I pass on To the grave's calm. The people of the dreams Within me, airlike, unto air shall pass; My reason, firelike, unto lasting fire; My passions' craze unto the billows' madness.

Even my dust-worn body, unto dust; And I shall be again air, earth, fire, water; And from the air of dreams, and from the flame Of thought, and from the flesh that shall be dust,

And from the passions' sea, ever shall rise A breath of sound like a soft lyre's complaint.


The second collection of Life Immovable, entitled "The Return," is dedicated to the poet's country. It bears under its title the significant date of 1897, the year of the unfortunate Greco-Turkish war which ended disastrously for Greece and plunged the nation into despair. After the defeat, almost the whole world spoke of the Greeks as of a degenerate people beyond the hope of redemption. The sensitiveness of the race helped in rendering the gloom of disaster most depressing. For some time, even the Greeks began to resign themselves to their fate as a hopeless one. Palamas is one of the first to sound the reveille. He conceives of his collection of songs as an expression of faith in the country's future. With perfect love and assurance "he comes to place the crowns of Art" "dream-made and dream-engraved" upon her shattered throne....

Only with harmony sublime and pure, Which, though it rises over time and space, Turns the world's ears to his native land, The poet is the greatest patriot.

Nevertheless even the poet's spirit cannot help reflecting the gloom through which it tries to rise. The general depression about him weighs upon him, too, in spite of his effort. This shadow haunts him constantly. Life becomes a Fairy, with a Fairy's dangerous charms and fearful mysteries. "Something like a madman pursues life." The poet hears this madman's falling steps and is horror-haunted:

And lo, blood of my blood the madman was! A past, ancestral, long-forgotten sin, That bursting forth upon me, vampire-like, Snatched from my hand the dewy crown of joy!

This madman grows from within the individual's and the nation's life. The wings of joys and dreams are clipped. One feels like a night-owl upon glorious ruins, the beauty of which makes the night even darker. Tradition, like a majestic temple, seems to choke life by its solemnity. The present, which seems to be symbolized by the little hut, is in the relentless grip of "a monstrous vision, the Fairy Illness, stripped in the silver glimmer of the moon." There is always the mingling of gleaming beauty and of bitter sorrow. There is always before us a "cord-grass festival," the amber fragrant flowers budding upon the piercing spikes of the cord-grass and luring man to the deadly bog where there is no redemption. One might say that the poet verges on morbidity.

But such an assumption would be unjust. Palamas may have a clear vision of the tragedy of life. But in the light of this revelation, with his unfettered contemplation, he builds, like Bertram Russell, a "shining citadel in the very centre of the enemy's country, on the very summit of his highest mountain; from its impregnable watch-towers, his camps and arsenals, his columns and forts, are all revealed; within its walls, the free life continues while the legions of Death and Pain and Despair and all the servile captains of tyrant Fate afford the burghers of that dauntless city new spectacles of beauty." In like manner, the world of Greece, in which Palamas lives, "our home," as he calls it, may have its dreadful silences that are "full of moans," moans vague and muffled as if coming from a distant world

Of bygone ages and of times unborn.

But he does not lose sight of that

Harmony fit for the chosen few, ... A lightning sent from Sinai and a gleam From great Olympus, like the mingling sounds Of David's harp and Pindar's lyre, conversing In the star-spangled darkness of the night.

At times the poet even raises his song to rapture. Certainly the past becomes a source of happiness in his "Rhapsody," and life is agleam with joy in his "Idyl." But most reflective of this power of the poet to conquer darkness with light and to turn ruins into gleaming palaces of beauty and of song, is the poem entitled "At the Windmill."

The local color which is by no means a rare characteristic of the poetry of Palamas is particularly rich in this collection. Many of its songs are vivid and clear pictures of Greek life. Yet with the touch of symbolism, he makes such local flashes world-flames. In "The Dead," we have a faithful description of the Greek custom of exposing the open coffin with the body in a room whence all furniture is removed. Friends and relatives are gathered about the dead; even children are not excluded from paying this last honor to the departed. The windows are closed, and in the gloom tapers and candles are burning before the images of the saints and over the flower-covered body, while the smoke of the incense and the fragrance of the wreaths fill the air. Yet somehow in the verses of the song one catches the moving sounds of mourning humanity, the image of death against life.


"The Fragments from the Song to the Sun" contain some of the noblest lines of Palamas' poetry. We cannot have a complete understanding of the symbolism with which this part of Life Immovable is filled. For, after all, from the great hymn to the light-god, we have here only fragments. But these fragments remind one of the gold-stained ruins of the Akropolis against the bright Attic sky. Throughout, we are aware of a striking duality. The key to these sunlit melodies is probably found in the "Giants' Shadows." Among the shadows whose voices ascend from darkness "like moanings of the sea," the poet discovers Telamonian Ajax, the giant who is utterly absorbed in the world within him, the source of his light and life, and Goethe, the Teutonic poet, who turns to the world about himself as a flower to the sun, and whose heart "longs and thirsts for light." Here then, we detect the doubleness of the sun of Palamas, a sun within, the source of his inner life and thought, and a sun without, the source of all external beauty and growth.

Thus without detracting from the charm and power of the day-star, he ensouls it with a higher meaning and transforms a fiery globe into a light-clad Olympian divinity, a giver of life and death, a healer and a slayer. In "The Tower of the Sun," we find mighty princes, sons of kings, who had gone thither in their desire to hunt for the light, turned into stones by the "giant merciless." Motionless they stand, a world of voiceless statues while

From their deep and smothered eyes, Something like living glance Struggles to peep through its stone-veil!

Then the fair redeemer, a princess beautiful, comes from far away—the light, it seems, of inner knowledge and inspiration—and the Sun's tower

Gleamed forth as if the light Of a new dawn embraced its walls!

She knows where the fountain of life flows and with its waters wakes up the sons of kings, shining

... with transcending gleam Like a far greater Sun.

This is, then, the sun whom Palamas worships as a god. It is a sun who possesses all the beauty and power of the actual source of light, but who, at the same time, by the spell of mystic symbolism rises to the splendor of a thrice-fair and almighty divinity containing all that is beautiful and noble and powerful in the world. Upon such a sun he seeks to find a light-flooded palace for his child in the "Mourning Song." To such a sun he offers his hymns and prayers; and such a sun he conceives as a vengeful blood-fed Moloch or a muse of light. He is a fair Phoebus, who rises from pure Olympus' heights to play as a fountain of flowing harmonies or to smite as "an archer of fiery arrows" all living things.


In the "Verses of a Familiar Tune" the poet conceives of himself as of a wedding guest who travels far away to join the festival. The bride, "thrice-beautiful" seems to be Earth; and the bridegroom, the Sun. The journey to the festival is the span of mortal life. The poet, who must travel over this path, endeavors to brighten it with dreams and shorten his way's weary length

With sounds that like sweet longings wake in him Old sounds familiar, low whisperings Of women's beauties and of home-born shadows ... The flames that burn within the heart, the kisses That the waves squander on the sandy beach, And the sweet birds that sing on children's lips!

The second poem of this group, "The Paralytic on the River's Bank," recalls the notes verging on despair which we have found in "The Return." Again the gleaming past, appearing here as the other bank of the river, revels

In lustful growth and endless mirth With leafy slopes and forests glistening.

At the sight of such splendor, the poet lies palsy-stricken on this bank of the river, the "graceless, barren, and desert bank" unable to rise and sing. Then Life, like a merciful Fairy, takes him into the humble hut of the present and makes him forget the other bank and nourishes him until, at last, waking into the new world, he weaves the whole day long with master hand all kinds of laurel crowns and pours into the unaccustomed air a flute's soft-flown complaint. But again from his bed he raises his eyes and sees once more the world beyond the river, nodding luringly at him; and even there, in the midst of the new life, he falls palsy-stricken, "the paralytic of the river bank."

This note of hopelessness is immediately counteracted by the "Simple Song," in which Life opens again her gorgeous gardens of the past to pluck the fairest of flowers; and when he weeps over the newly reaped blossoms that fill his basket, Life rebukes him by facing them unmoved "a life agleam!" With like wholesomeness he greets the early dawn that brings him "thought, light, and sound, his sacred Trinity," and enters the chapel's garden

To see the children beautiful, Children that make the grassy beds a heaven And rise like miracles among the flowers.

But on the whole, man, the wedding guest, must travel on while the winds of uncertainty blow about him. Riddles face him everywhere; questions stern and unanswerable spring before him; and the life of the whole human race seems to be that of Thought likened to "an angel ever wrestling with a strong giant flinging his hundred hands about the angel's neck to strangle him." For who knows if a good act unknown shines more than the most splendid monuments of marble or verse? Who knows if vice is wiser than virtue? Is Fair Art, War's Triumphs, and great Thoughts expressed costlier in the Temple of the Universe than the mute Thought and Glory of the flower,

... at whose birth The dawn rejoices and whose early death The saddened evening silently laments?

The thoughtful sage high-rising smites the gates Of the Infinite and questions every Sphinx; Yet who knows if the soldier with no will, Obeying blindly, is not nearer Truth?

O struggle vast! Who knows what power measures The measureless and creates the great? Is it the matchless thought of the endowed, Or the dim soul of the multitude that bursts, Thoughtless of reason, into life? Who knows?

We know not "whether the holy man's blessing" is the best, nor whether there is more light of Truth in the Law, "that is all eyes," or in some blind love. Thus entangled in the meshes of life's sphinx-like wonders, we spend our day, little particles of the great world-struggle, wedding guests at Life's strange festival!


In tenderness and delicacy of thought and expression, no part of Life Immovable can be compared with the smoothly flowing stanzas of "The Palm Tree." There is no ruggedness in the meter, no violence in the stream of images. We are led without knowing it into a modest garden. A few flowers, a palm tree, some bushes, and the sky make our world, a world, it seems, of things small and common and trivial. But the poet passes by, listens to the humble flowers of dark and light blue, and puts their talk into rhythms.

At once, the flowers become a world of beauty, life, and thought. They are our kin, sons of the same parent Earth, and dreamers of strangely similar dreams. The Palm tree over them becomes a great mystery of power and grace lifting it to the realm of gods. The flowers, like little mortals, wonder at the things they see about them. Their own existence beneath the palm tree's shade is full of riddles, and they face the world with questionings. In the very midst of a clear sky's festival that succeeds a rain, the little flowers suffer the first blows of pain, dealt by the last drops that fall from the palm leaves, and they feel the agony of sorrow until they come to realize that even pain brings its reward, knowledge, which makes them glory, like victors, over death. Their being expands and they sing a song which is the essence of the world's humanity:

Though small we are, a great world hides in us; And in us clouds of care and dales of grief You may descry: the sky's tranquility; The heaving of the sea about the ships At evenings; tears that roll not down the cheeks; And something else inexplicable. Oh, What prison's kin are we? Who would believe it? One, damned and godlike, dwells in us; and she is Thought!

Thus their song continues carrying them from thought to thought, from dream to dream, from joy to joy, and from sorrow to sorrow. Swept away by the charms of life, they raise to their strange god a hymn of exultation. At the sight of the thrice-fair rose, they sing a song of love and admiration. Their experiences stimulate their minds, and they seek to solve the dark problems that teem about them. With the eagerness of living beings they listen to the tales of new worlds and miracles brought to them by bees and lizards. Illness and night frighten them with fearful images; and, at last, they pass away with a song of hope and regret:

We shall die, Nor will there be a monument for us That might retain the phantom of our passing! Only about thee will a robe of light Adorn thee with a new and deathless gleam: And it shall be our thought, and word, and rime! And in the eyes of an astonished world, Thou wilt appear like a gold-green new star; Yet neither thou nor others will know of us!





And now the columns stand a forest speechless And motionless; and among them, the rhythms And thoughts move in slow measures constantly; And in their depths, light-written images Show Love that leads and Soul that follows him.

From the "Thoughts of Early Dawn."

_I labored long to create the statue for the Temple On stone that I had found And set it up in nakedness; and then to pass; To pass but not to die.

And I created it. But narrow men who bow To worship shapeless wooden images, ill-clad, With hostile glances and with shudderings of fear, Looked down upon us, work and worker, angrily.

My statue in the rubbish thrown! And I, an exile! To foreign lands, I led my restless wanderings. But ere I left, a sacrifice unheard I offered: I dug a pit; and in the pit I laid my statue.

And then I whispered: "Here lie low unseen and live With things deep-rooted and among the ancient ruins Until thine hour comes. Immortal flower thou art! A Temple waits to clothe thy nakedness divine!"

And with a mouth thrice-wide, and with the voice of prophets, The pit spoke: "Temple, none! Nor pedestal! Nor light! In vain! For nowhere is thy flower fit, O Maker! Better forever lost in the unlighted depths!

"Its hour may never come! and if it come, and if Thy work be raised, the Temple will be radiant With a great host of statues, statues of no blemish, And works of thrice-great makers unapproachable!

"Today, was soon for thee; tomorrow will be late! Thy dream is vain! The dawn thou longest will not dawn; Thus burning for eternities thou mayest not reach, Remain cloud-hunter and Praxiteles of shadows!

"Tomorrow and today for thee are snares and seas! All are but traps for drowning thee and visions false! Longer than thy glory is the violet's in thy garden! And thou shalt pass away—hear this!—and thou shalt die!"

And then I answered: "Let me pass away and die! Creator am I, too, with all my heart and mind! Let pits devour my work! Of all eternal things, My restless wandering may have the greatest worth!"_


To the blessed shade of Tigrane Yergate who loved my Fatherlands.



Where with its many ships the harbor moans, The land spreads beaten by the billows wild, Remembering not even as a dream Her ancient silkworks, carriers of wealth.

The vineyards, filled with fruit, now make her rich; And on her brow, an aged crown she wears, A castle that the strangers, Franks or Turks, Thirst for, since Venice founded it with might.

O'er her a mountain stands, a sleepless watch; And white like dawn, Parnassus shimmers far Aloft with midland Zygos at his side.

Here I first opened to the day mine eyes; And here my memory weaves a dream dream-born, An image faint, half-vanished, fair—a mother.


Upon the lake, the island-studded, where The breeze of May, grown strong with sea-brine, stirs The seashore strewn with seaweed far away, The Fates cast me a little child thrice orphan.

'Tis there the northwind battles mightily Upon the southwind; and the high tide on The low; and far into the main's abyss The dazzling coral of the sun is sinking.

There stands Varassova, the triple-headed; And from her heights, a lady from her tower, The moon bends o'er the waters lying still.

But innocent peace, the peace that is a child's, Not even there I knew; but only sorrow And, what is now a fire, the spirit's spark.


Sky everywhere; and sunbeams on all sides; Something about like honey from Hymettus; The lilies grow of marble witherless; Pentele shines, birthgiver of Olympus.

The digging pick on Beauty stumbles still; Cybele's womb bears gods instead of mortals; And Athens bleeds with violet blood abundant Each time the Afternoon's arrows pour on her.

The sacred olive keeps its shrines and fields; And in the midst of crowds that slowly move Like caterpillars on a flower white,

The people of the relics lives and reigns Myriad-souled; and in the dust, the spirit Glitters; I feel it battling in me with Darkness.


Where the Homeric dwellers of Phaeacia Still live, and with a kiss meet East and West; Where with the olive tree the cypress blooms, A dark robe in the azure infinite,

E'en there my soul has longed to dwell in peace With towering visions of the land of Pyrrhus; There dream-born beauties pour their flood, Dawn's mother Lighting the fountain of sweet Harmony.

The rhapsodies of the Immortal Blind In the new voice of Greece are echoed there;[8] The shade of Solomos[9] in fields Elysian

Breathes rose-born fragrance; and master of the lyre, A new bard sings,[10] like old Demodocus, The glories of the Fatherland and Crete.


Lo, dreams strange-born among my dreams are mingling; A lake, the ancient Mareotis, where The Goddess spreads with ever hidden face Her wedding couch to greet Osiris Lord.

As if from graves, from laughless depths, before me Life brightly glitters with her gentle smile; A Libyan thirst burns in my heart; and Ra, The fiery archer, battles everywhere.

Something sow-like before me gnashed its teeth, The slavish soul and savage of the Arab; World-nourishing the Nile rolled on its waters;

And lotus-crowned, in the cool shade of palms, I loved as beasts that dwell in wilderness A Fellah lass full-breasted and sphinx-faced.


A sinner hermit on the Holy Mountain, I burn in Satan's fire and pine in hell; My soul is ruins and woe; and in a stream Deep-flowing, I sink, a traveller beguiled.

The blue Aegean spreads a sapphire treasure; Like Daphnis and his Chloe stand sky and earth; Quivering, lo, the seed of life blooms forth; In swarms, the living beings suck the sap

Of all. Olympus, Ossa, Pelion, And every lap of sea, and every tongue Of land, lake-like Cassandra, Thrace's shores

Are clad in wedding garb; and I? "O Lord, Be my Redeemer!" and with floods of tears I bathe the god-child Panselenus[13] wrought.


Rumele is a royal crown of ruby; Moreas is a glow of emerald; The Seven Isles,[15] a jasmine sevenfold; And every Cyclad, a Nereid sea-born.

Even the chains of rugged Epirus laugh; And Thessaly spreads far her golden charms. Hidden beneath her present waves of woe, Methinks I look on Hellas, Queen of lands.

For still the ancient fir of valor blooms; And from the pangs and sighs of ages risen, The breath of Digenes[16] fills all the land

Breeding a race of heroes strong and new; And in the depths of green and golden Night Sings on Colonus Hill the nightingale.


From Danube to the cape of Taenaron, From Thunder Mountain's End to Chalcedon, Thou passest now a mermaid of the sea And now a statue of marble Parian.

Now with the laurel bough from Helicon And now with sword barbarian, thou sweepest; And on the fields of thy great labarum, I see a double headed image drawn.

The sacred Rock gleams like a topaz here; And virgins basket-bearing, clad in white, March in a dance and shake Athena's veil;

But far the sapphires shine of Bosporus; And through the Golden Gate exulting pass Victors Imperial triumphantly.


Like the Phaeacians' ship, Imagination Without the help of sail or mariner Rolls on; in my soul's depths loom many lands: Thrice-ancient, motionless like Asia,

And others five-minded and bold like Europe's realms; Despair like Africa's black earth holds me; Within me a savage Polynesia spreads; And always I trail some path Columbian.

All monstrous things of life, the fields aflame Under a tropic sun, I knew; I wore The shrouds of the poles; and on a thousand paths,

I saw the world unfurled before my eyes. And what am I? Grass on a clod of earth Scorned even by the passing reaper's scythe.


A traveller, I found in waveless seas Calypso and Helena thrice-beautiful; And on the Lotus Eaters' shores, I drank The blissful waters of oblivion.

In the sun-flooded land, I stood by him, The god of the Hyperborean race; One night—in strange and peerless radiance— The Magi showed to me the mystic star.

I saw the Queen of Sheba on her throne, O Soul, light flowing from her fingers' touch; My eyes beheld Atlantis Isle, that seemed

An Ocean flower beyond a mortal's dreams; And now the care and memory of all These things are rhythm to me and verse and song.


About the chariot of the Seven Stars, Sky-racers numberless, whole worlds of giants And beasts: Ocean of suns, the Milky Way, Orion, and the monsters of the spheres—

The fearful Zodiac. The Lion roars Amidst the wilderness ethereal; The Lyre plays; and trophy-like, the Lock Of Berenice gleams; and rhythms and laws

Fade in the space of mysteries. Sun, Cronus, Mars, Earth, and Venus sweep in swift pursuit Towards the world magnet of great Hercules.

Only my soul like polar star awaits Immovable, yet filled with dreamful longings; And knows not whence it comes nor where it goes.


Fatherlands! Air and earth and fire and water! Elements indestructible, beginning And end of life, first joy and last of mine! You I shall find again when I pass on

To the graves' calm. The people of the dreams Within me, airlike, unto air shall pass; My reason, fire-like, unto lasting fire; My passions' craze unto the billows' madness;

Even my dust-born body, unto dust; And I shall be again air, earth, fire, water; And from the air of dreams, and from the flames

Of thought, and from the flesh that shall be dust, And from the passions' sea, ever shall rise A breath of sound like a soft lyre's complaint.


From their foreign land and precious, From their nest in green, I took Red-plumed birds; and then I closed them In a cage of woven gold.

And the cage of woven gold Then became a second nest; On our shores the birds have found A new, precious fatherland.

Softly here they shake their feathers; Swiftly sing of worlds and souls Deep and spacious; or they mingle

Lightning-like their tears and smiles. And though small and as of coral, Yet they sing with accents loud.



With chariot drawn by star-plumed peacocks, lo, The goddess of desires before her people Is revealed! She passes on, youth's joyful shout And torture, dragging my eighteen years behind.

Snowflakes became a world; and, taking life As substance, made her body and her thought. Upon her royal brow, birds strange and wild, Scorn's breed, have built their nest and there abide.

Upon her path, in vain I build the palace Of virgin dreams with virgin gold for her, Raising a throne of diamonds in its midst.

She passes on her starlit chariot; And as if filled with golden dreams divine, She does not even look upon my palace!



To you, who dawned before me, offspring of The great abyss and flower of foaming billows! To you, whom with their love all things embrace, And who stir tempests in a statue's depths!

To you, O woman and O virgin, myrrhs, Fruit, frankincense, I offer recklessly! To you, the music of the world! To you, My songs' pure foam, songs that your vision fills!

For you can love, remember, understand. Before I saw you in the world's great night, You shone upon my mother's lighted face.

Your worshipper into the world I came; Your name I knew not, and in love's sweet font I called you with the name Makaria!



Just as dry summers pant for the first rain, So thou art thirsty for a happy home And for a life remote, like hermit's prayer, A corner of forgetting and of love.

And thirsty for the ship upon the sea That ever onward sails with birds and sea-things, Filling its life with our great planet's light. But unto thee both ship and home said: "No!

"Look neither for the happiness remote That never moves, nor for the life that ever finds In each new land and harbor a new soul!

"Only the panting of a toiling slave For thee! Drag in the market place thy body's Nakedness, strange to the strangers and thine own!"



Some people love things modest and things small, And like to feed in cages little birds; They deck themselves with garden violets And drink the singing waters of the brooks.

Others delight in tales told by the embers Of the home hearth or listen to the songs Of the nightbirds with rapture; others, slaves Of a great pain, burn incense to the stars

Of beauty. And some thirst for the forest shades And for a nacreous dawn, and for a sunset Dipped in red blood, a barren wilderness

Light-burned. But thee no love with nature binds; And where the heavens mingle with the sea, A path thou seekest for a sphere beyond.



With wings and hands ethereal, rhythms and thoughts Lifted thy soul, redeemed from its dust frame, And led it straightway to the stars; and there The sacred escort halts and ends its journey.

In summers paradisiac beyond, Where on the Lyre's star the bards and makers, Like doves with breath immortal, dwell in gleams, The shade of Solomos like magnet draws thee,

And leading thee before a double Tabor, Thus speaks to thee: "Here is thy glory! Here Dwell and behold the giant pair that stand

Before thee never setting, with diamonds dark; And like a breath of worship pass, embracing Thy Homer and thy Shakespeare, blessed One!"



O bard, whose songs unto the vernal god Of idyls rang from the same gladsome flute, April's sweet-breathing air is mingled now With martial sounds of savage trumpetings.

A crown is woven for our motherland: Is it life's laurels or the martyr's thorns? Oh see beyond: the wild vine's flowers now Are shaken on a lake of blood and tears!

Has the war phantom blown upon thee too? Or hast thou with the force of lightning winds Flown where for ages sacred hatreds burn

In flames? Or has an evil wound thrown thee Upon the earth where now in vain the god Of idyls tries to raise thee with his kisses?



Soldier and maker swiftly I Seized with my hand the spear and spoke: "Fall on the beast of the world beyond And strike the eagle-winged lion!"

Before me with God's grace, I saw Soulless the griffin seven-souled, Blood spurting from a hole hell-like And scorching with its heat the grass!

And then restored with calm, I saw The savage strife like a day's dawn; And the destroyer, I, became

A maker; and with this same hand, I carve on ivory the man Who slew the beast and make him deathless.



Why leanest thou on idle spear? Why is thy dreadful helmet bent Heavy upon thy breast, O virgin? What sorrow is so great, O thought,

As to touch thee? Are there no more Of thunder-bearing enemies To yield thee trophies new? No pomp Athenian to guide thy ship

On to the sacred Rock? I see Some pain holds Pallas fixed upon A gravestone. Some great blow moves her:

Is it thy sacred city's loss, Or seest thou all Greece—alas— Of now and yesterday entombed?



Whither so light of garb and swift of foot, O Huntress? Is it the sacred gifts of pure Hippolytus That make thee leave Arcadia's forest land behind, O shelter of the pure, and slayer of the wild?

Wild lily of virginity raised on the fields Olympian, O mountain Queen of gleaming bow, I envy him who in a careless hour did face Thy beauty's lightning with thy heartless vengefulness.

And yet white like the morn, thou openest in secret Thy lips thrice fragrant with divine ambrosia And sayest: "Latona's deathless grace has moulded me

Under the sacred tree upon Ortygia; But now once more upon the noble stone, the new Maker has moulded me with a new deathlessness."



O first-born pride and joy of my own home, I still remember thy coming's sacred day: The early dawn was breaking as from pearls, Whitening the sky that spread star-spangled still;

Thou wert not like the fresh and budding rose In its green mother's clasp before it opens; Thou camest like a victim pitiful And feeble cast by a rude hand among us.

And as if thou wert seeking help, thy wail Rose sadder than the sound of a death knell; And thus the last of thy own mother's groans

Was mingled with thy first lament. Life's great Drama began. I watch it, and I feel Within me Fear's and Pity's mystic wail!



Thy soul is seeking tranquil paths Alone; thou hatest barking mouths; And yet thy country's love enflames thee, O maker of the noble sonnet.

In the white alabaster vase Filled with pure native earth, a flower Of dream that only few can see Trembles and scatters fragrances.

Thy verse, the vase; thy mind, the flower. But a hand broke the vase, and now The azure beauty of the flower

Has found a mate in the powder's smoke Upon Crete's Isle, the blue sea's crown, Mother of bards and tyrant slayers.



Time's spider lurks and lies in wait; And on its poisoned claws, the beast All watchful glides, assails, and grasps The ruin. O thrice-holy beauties!

In vain all props and wisdom's arts! In vain a tribe of sages seek To save it! Time's remaining crumbs Are scattered far and melt like frost.

Then from the lofty land of Thought, Imagination came, a goddess Among the gods, and made again,

Even where until now the ruin Crumbled, what only its hands can make— Deathless the first-born Parthenon.



To die for these, my brothers, and myself; For by not loving my own life too much, I found the best of finds, a glorious death.

EURIPIDES, Herakleidae, 532-534.

On Athens' earth, Zeus of the Market place Sees Hercules's children kneeling down On his pure altar, strange, forlorn, thrice-orphan. Fearful the Argive sweeps on; duty's hand

1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse