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Odysseus Elytis

The Sovereign Sun

Selected Poems

Odysseus Elytis


Publication Date : 27 Sep 1990

ISBN: 9781852241209

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Odysseus Elytis (1911-96) won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1979. With Seferis and the 'Generation of the Thirties', he introduced French Surrealism into Greek poetry. Kimon Friar’s classic translation The Sovereign Sun begins with his brilliantly sensuous early poems. It has large selections from his master work, Axion Esti (1959), and includes the whole of his Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of the Albanian Campaign (1945). His Nobel Prize citation stated: ‘Against the background of Greek tradition, his poetry depicts with sensuous strength and clearsightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness.’

'He has a romantic and lyrical mind, which deploys a metaphysic of complete intellectual sensuality-the rocks, the islands, the blue Greek sea, the winds; they are at once "real" and also "signatures" in the alchemical sense. He makes his magic with them, and it is peculiarly Greek magic that he makes. His poems are spells, and they conjure up that eternal Greek world which has haunted and continues to haunt the European consciousness with its hints of a perfection that always remains a possibility. The Greek poet aims his heart and his gift directly at the sublime - for nothing else will do. How lucky, too, that he has found in Kimon Friar a translator who can transplant his poetry into English, so that its freshness and spontaneity still shock and delight.' – Lawrence Durrell

'I consider poetry a source of innocence full of revolutionary forces. It is my mission to direct these forces against a world my conscience cannot accept, precisely so as to bring that world through continual metamorphoses more in harmony with my dreams. I am referring here to a contemporary kind of magic whose mechanism leads to the discovery of our true reality. It is for this reason that I believe, to the point of idealism, that I am moving in a direction which has never been attempted until now. In the hope of obtaining a freedom from all constraint and the justice which could be identified with absolute light, I am an idolater who, without wanting to do so, arrives at Christian sainthood.' – Odysseus Elytis

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