Πρόσφατα άρθρα

Examine the role of self-deception in the historical poems of Cavafy

This is a heartfelt yet rigorous and intelligent essay submitted by Sophie Prewett for the course I teach to 3rd year undergraduate Classics students at the University of Reading where I have been teaching for the last thirteen years. My course bears the title 'My Mother's sin and other stories' aiming at introducing some major authors and works as well as trends in Modern Greek Poetry and Fiction from the late 19th century to the late 20th century in connection with both the history, sociocultural context and wider literary developments of their period and illustrating attitudes to the ancient past in the work of some selected poets and novelists. All texts are taught from English translations. My students take this course as optional and for the majority a whole new world of hidden Modern Greek treasures is unveiled. Many have called the experience of my course as 'a breath of fresh air' which i consider an ultimate credit...

Examine the role of self-deception in the historical poems of Cavafy

Η ΔΕΠΠΣ και η ελληνόγλωσση εκπαίδευση εξωτερικού

Αξιολόγηση της ελληνόγλωσσης τριτοβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης εξωτερικού στην Ελλάδα

Η ΔΕΠΠΣ και η ελληνόγλωσση εκπαίδευση εξωτερικού

Greek/Classics Department Award Ceremony: Theodora Kamaroudi

Με απόφαση του τμήματος Κλασικών και Νέων Ελληνικών Σπουδών την Παρασκευή 18 Μαΐου 2012 απονεμήθηκε το βραβείο αριστείας στην διδασκαλία της Νέας Ελληνικής γλώσσας και πολιτισμού στην Δρ. Θεοδώρα Καμαρούδη, αναγνωρίζοντας την ως την καλύτερη αποσπασμένη φιλόλογο από το Υπουργείο Παιδείας της Ελλάδας που έχει φιλοξενήσει το πανεπιστήμιό μας την τελευταία πενταετία.

Greek/Classics Department Award Ceremony: Theodora Kamaroudi

Μεταπτυχιακό εξ αποστάσεως πρόγραμμα για τη Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (Παν. Λευκωσίας - ΚΕΓ)

Το Πανεπιστήμιο Λευκωσίας σε συνεργασία με το Κέντρο Ελληνικής Γλώσσας διοργανώνει μεταπτυχιακό πρόγραμμα "Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (MA, 3 εξάμηνα) - Εξ Αποστάσεως".

Μεταπτυχιακό εξ αποστάσεως πρόγραμμα για τη Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (Παν. Λευκωσίας - ΚΕΓ)

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

stuident Name: Joseph Watson Module Lecturer: Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps Date of Submission: 11/01/2016

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

Discuss the use of the so-called ‘narrated monologue’ or ‘free indirect speech’ as employed for the first time ever in Greek fiction by Vizuinos.

This is a another heartfelt yet rigorous and intelligent essay submitted by Micahela Leary for the course I teach to 3rd year undergraduate Classics students at the University of Reading where I have been teaching for the last thirteen years. My course bears the title 'My Mother's sin and other stories' aiming at introducing some major authors and works as well as trends in Modern Greek Poetry and Fiction from the late 19th century to the late 20th century in connection with both the history, sociocultural context and wider literary developments of their period and illustrating attitudes to the ancient past in the work of some selected poets and novelists. All texts are taught from English translations. My students take this course as optional and for the majority a whole new world of hidden Modern Greek treasures is unveiled. Many have called the experience of my course as 'a breath of fresh air' which i consider an ultimate credit...

Discuss the use of the so-called ‘narrated monologue’ or ‘free indirect speech’ as employed for the first time ever in Greek fiction by Vizuinos.


Ευαγγελία Καφφέ-Αλαούνε BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY Αγγλόφωνο Πανεπιστήμιο όπου διδάσκονται τα ν.ε


4ο Κορεατικό Συνέδριο για τον συγγραφέα Νίκο Καζαντζάκη στη Σεούλ

Στις 19 Μαίου 2012 πραγματοποιήθηκε στη Σεούλ το 4ο Κορεατικό Συνέδριο για τον Έλληνα συγγραφέα Νίκο Καζαντζάκη με θέμα το βιβλίο του για τον άγιο Φραγκίσκο της Ασίζης «Ο Φτωχούλης του Θεού».

4ο Κορεατικό Συνέδριο για τον συγγραφέα Νίκο Καζαντζάκη στη Σεούλ

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

This essay examines that metaphor in the context of the political and war situation at the time Lysistrata was first performed. It considers traditional gender roles in the fifth-century Greek polis and Lysistrata’s inversion of those roles in her weaving analogy. Aristophanes’ comedic purpose in the weaving speech, in Lysistrata as a whole, and more generally across his corpus is examined. In addition, some observations are made about the sound pattern of Lysistrata’s speech and, in a personal argument, a speculative suggestion is advanced that the audience might have associated her cadences with the familiar rhythms of a domestic weaving loom.

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων


Σκοπός της εργασίας αυτής είναι η προσέγγιση του Άξιον Εστί με ερευνητικό εργαλείο το ηρωοκεντρικό μοντέλο αφηγηματικής ανάλυσης που ανέδειξε η μακρά παράδοση συστηματικής ανάλυσης λογοτεχνικών έργων η οποία ξεκίνησε με τη μελέτη της δομής των ρωσικών παραμυθιών από τους Ρώσους φορμαλιστές στις αρχές του 20ου αιώνα και πέρασε αργότερα στους στρουκτουραλιστές και σημειολόγους θεωρητικούς της λογοτεχνίας.


Hope and futility in the poetry of G. Seferis

tzanidaki writes, "Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps
Department of Classics
University of Reading
Dissertation supervisor

James Stewart, a 3rd year student of mine, followed my 'Introduction to Modern Greek Literature' courses and was fascinated enough to produce an excellent essay on last year, also on Seferis, and this hearfelt and sophisticated dissertation "an excellent piece of work, particularly sophisticated discussion of time and temporality in Seferis" in the external examiner's own words."

29 Μαΐου 2009

Hope and futility in the poetry of G. Seferis

by James Stewart


In order to discuss the aspects of futility and hope, one of the most crucial collections of poetry that I shall examine throughout this essay is Mythistorema (1935). This collection contains 24 poems that deal with issues not just of futility and hope but also tragedy, despair, identity and much more. I will need to examine the influences on Seferis, not just from his contemporaries, but perhaps more importantly, from classical Greek literature and this will be a thread that runs through the whole of this essay. The influences on Seferis, by the time he wrote Mythistorema, were very important as they helped shape his writing style and most notably helped him convey the contrasting representations of hope and futility that is found throughout his poetry. Mythistorema , or ‘mythical story’, is regarded as George Seferis’ most renowned and influential collections of poems. Written in 1935, the collection can be seen as the juxtaposition of contemporary angst and classical mythology that illustrates the issues of futility but always with the possibility of hope. It moves away from the French symbolist style that Seferis had previously adopted, a style that can be seen in an earlier collection entitled ‘Turning Point’, and turns to the ‘allusive method’, a style coined by Seferis, one which would arguably induce some of his greatest poetry. His previous style of symbolist poetry had been influenced by The French Symbolist movement he had seen first hand during his time in Paris between 1918 and 1925 . Mythistorema however is certainly influenced by the poet T.S. Eliot . Seferis tells us in his letters to Eliot that he first read his work in 1931, two years before he started writing Mythistorema, and the influences of ‘The Wasteland’ are evident. We need to recognise that Seferis had experienced a refugee lifestyle, firstly living through the Asia Minor disaster (a disaster that saw two million Greeks displaced from their homes by Ottoman rule in 1922), also two world wars and the Greek civil war. These upheavals had considerable influence on his work and it is no wonder that his writing mirrored the war torn world around him and that futility was one of his major themes. Whilst Eliot acted as a catalyst that sparked Seferis’ allusive and mythical method that would comment on the futility of life, it was Seferis who uniquely gave ‘shape and significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history’ . It is by giving futility a significance in his poetry therefore, that we can start to see hope spring from the most unlikely of places, and this is what makes Seferis’ poetry very special and very unique, as such opposites as futility and hope can be present in the same poem. I feel that it is through the influence of T.S. Eliot that Seferis was able to transgress these ideas so freely in his poetry, and therefore it seemed necessary to address this influence.

This dissertation explores the ways in which Seferis delivers the contrasting ideas of futility and hope within his poetry. Whilst many scholars seek to explain Seferis’ obsession with the Homeric tradition, and his reapplication of mythology that can be found throughout his work (perhaps most notably, David Ricks in his brilliant book ’ The Shade Of Homer’) , I intend to follow a different route. I shall discuss what influenced Seferis to constantly address the two opposing ideas of futility and hope, and shall attempt to discover how these ideas are represented in his poetry. Each chapter will approach different aspects of Seferis’ poetry and how they work to strengthen or weaken representations of futility and hope. Below is a paragraph on each chapter giving its function and an overview on what the chapter attempts to achieve.

Chapter One: This chapter is entitled ‘The Unforgotten World’. I have used this name since it explores Seferis’ fascination with ancient Greece and, more importantly, ancient mythology. This chapter shall thus attempt to identify some of the ways in which the ancient world comes into modern context, and for what reasons. Furthermore it will explore how ideas of futility and hope are represented through mythology and the representations of statues.

Chapter Two: With the title ’The Landscape Of Love’, this chapter looks at two of the most important aspects of Seferis’ poetry; the use of landscape and the portrayal of love. The chapter shall discover that both these ideas offer many different forms of emotion, both negative and positive. In addition to this, it shall convey the immensely important role landscape played in Seferis’ poetry, in representing the poet’s feelings towards situations that caused despair or created great happiness.

Chapter Three: Is entitled ‘The Anti-Heroic War’. This chapter is influenced by a scholar Capri-Karka, who looked at Seferis’ reasons behind the portrayal of war in many of his poems. Similarly, I will pick a few poems and address why Seferis saw fit to convey such anti-heroic images of war. I shall also go beyond this and attempt to come to a conclusion as to whether Seferis saw war as futile and full of pain, or whether there was a small part of him that sought to deliver hope out of the catastrophe that was war.

‘The Unforgotten World’

‘Wherever I travel Greece wounds me’ . The link between past and present throughout much of Seferis’ poetry, creates feelings of pain and loneliness. However, I feel that in his poetry out of all the rubble and remnants of an unforgotten world, comes hope (Mythistorema 21 shows this as the broken statues rise again and smile in strange silence ). Later, we shall see how the modern world in Seferis’ poetry is constantly rubbing shoulders with that of the ancient , creating a timeless stage upon which many of Seferis’ ideas and beliefs are able to function and thrive. Seferis uses both time and statues throughout much of his poetry as a means to express ideas that he has derived from the ancient world, and that he can easily feed into modern scenarios, perhaps thus addressing the problems that surround him. One place where the unifying of time is represented, is in Mythistorema. As Mythistorema (1935) was one of Seferis’ earliest collections of poems I feel it appropriate to start here. For it is in Mythistorema that one can really begin to see the use of ancient mythology in his work, especially the Odyssey, ’the night’s stars take me back to the Odyssey’ . It is also suggested that this is the first time in which Seferis used T.S. Eliot’s ‘mythical method’ , and the beginning of his movement towards the allusive style we so widely associate with him today. Throughout Mythistorema, Seferis proceeds to blend tales of the Argonauts, the Oresteia Andromeda and Adonis, in a fresh and original way that poets had not visited previously. Thus Mythistorema is regarded as one of the most influential pieces of literature by a Greek writer throughout the twentieth century .

Throughout Mythistorema Seferis is able to form bonds between the modern reader and the ancient world, by removing the constraints of time within the poetry. Whilst these bonds are not always positive, as we often see desolation and despair spring from them, they can often present hope to the most desperate of characters or situations. Mythistorema 1, the first poem in the collection immediately seeks to identify itself with the past. The poem is very allusive in style, and this will be a constant aspect of Seferis’ poetry throughout the collection. The poems calls for the ’age old drama’ to begin again, perhaps in an attempt to call upon the past to show itself in the present. Then, further on there is a mention of the ’carved relief’s of a humble art’ , which again unites past with present, this time through the representation of ancient statues and relics. There is no evidence of the time period within the poem and the constant waiting suggests that Seferis has consciously removed any time constraints that normally might be present. Furthermore there is a representation of the days that seem to never end , and this again suggests the absence of time. This absence of the governance of time and the anticipation of waiting for someone or something to arrive has parallels with Samuel Beckett, most notably ‘Waiting For Godot‘ . The ‘absence’, instead of leaving a void in the play, becomes the play and is one of the forces that drive it. What this poem and the play do is suggest the futility that life can offer. Both pieces of literature tell the story of incessant waiting for something that never arrives and this is futile. However the hope that something will change and someone will come is always there inside those who wait, and this suggests the strength of humankind and man‘s essentially optimistic outlook. I feel that Mythistorema 1 and in fact the whole collection offers in abundance the futility of life with the promise that just as Eliot in ‘The Burial Of The Dead’ finds ‘shadow under this red rock’ , so too does Seferis show us ‘the boy who saw light under the leaves of that plane tree’ .

In Mythistorema 2, the past and present seem become one, and the ‘grooves on the well’s lips’ can be seen reminding the modern reader of former civilisation and former happiness. There is no reference here to the time or place in which the events occur, however what we see from Seferis is a depiction of a place where ancient and modern have both lived side by side. Whilst the ‘ropes have broken’ , and the past is no longer there, Seferis is able to present it as a shining beacon of hope that the present can look to for guidance. The representation of the empty well seems to convey an arid existence in the present whilst the reminder of it’s function is an ever clear burden to carry. Whilst the well no longer gives life in the form of water, the suggestion that it once did maybe be a painful reminder of what the Greeks no longer have. It does nevertheless deliver hope, that past glory may be revisited in the future. In this instance the present seems to long for the happiness the past seems to have had in abundance.

To further explore the timelessness present in Seferis’ poetry I have chosen to move away from Mythistorema briefly and to a later poem, In The Manner Of G.S. This poem was written after Mythistorema and yet still contains the themes that came out of this collection. Unlike Mythistorema 2, this poem does give us a place name by which to anchor the action, Mycenae. However, once again the periods of time overlap and we see parts of the past and present fused together, creating a timeless aspect within the poem.
‘At Mycenae I raised the great stones and the treasures of the
house of Atreus
and slept with them at the hotel ‘Belle Helene de Menelas’; ’
The link to the past once again is an important tool in evoking emotion within the poem. In this instance there seems to be an ironic tone to Seferis’ writing, in as much as he feels that ancient Greece has been commercialised by the modern world and that people seem to be making money out of the glorious history of Greece without making an attempt to help with problems that beset modern Greece. There is a rather bitter despair at 20th Century Europe exploiting the glory that was ancient Greece. Tourists flocking to see the treasures at Mycenae whilst staying in a prosaic tourist hotel. The French name could be construed as foreigners, especially Westerners, exploiting Greece for its history and ancient culture. Yet if we read further we see that this may not be the case. Seferis goes on to taint the Greeks with the same brush ‘Yianni treated me to an ice cream’ , this suggests that the Greeks too are caught up in making a living from their heritage, and whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with doing so, it may suggest that Seferis sees it as an unhappy example of the commercialised present feeding off the more spiritually pure past. The parallels with Eliot are clear and are that of spirituality in contrast with ugly commercialism,
‘On Margate Sands.
I can connect
Nothing with nothing…
To Carthage then I came.’

‘Timeless poetry’ is created when Seferis either removes the constraints of time within his work or fuses varying points in time together. Therefore when I describe his poetry as ’timeless’ it is to suggest that the poetry does not belong to a particular moment in time but instead can be applied to any time period, as there is no indication given by the poet as to when the issues of the poem take place or can be addressed. Constantine A Trypanis refers to Greek poetry as that ‘with the largest and perhaps noblest tradition in the Western world’ concluding that ‘in the last hundred years, greater and more original poetry has been written in Greece than in the last fourteen centuries that proceeded them.’ Interestingly it is the poets like Seferis who have helped make this happen. By writing in a manner that seeks to make a Greek person challenge the constraints of Greece and strive to help it succeed, Seferis’ poetry is both able to continue the proud tradition of ancient Greece ( here I must acknowledge that Cretan renaissance literature and folk tradition also echoes through his poetry, but for the purposes of this dissertation ancient Greek reception must take centre stage) , and is able to be critical about the modern concerns he sees in front of him. I am of the belief that he is able to achieve such premises through his use of ‘timeless’ poetry. Trypanis goes further by saying that whilst countries such as England, France Italy and Germany were able to blossom in Renaissance, Greece was shackled and stunted’ . In relation to this comment, we can suggest that Seferis was trying to show throughout the poem how Greece has been partly shackled (I say partly because this is by no means the only reason as we shall see further on in this essay) due to its inability to escape its past, and partly because its remnants are everywhere for us to see. In living under such a great civilisation as the ancient Greeks, it is very difficult for them to not live in its shadow. It could be argued that Seferis felt the very enormity of the classical Greek inheritance, inhibited modern Greek culture. The heritage could be seen as both an inspiration and a burden.

Seferis believed that the legacy of the ancients was merely a lifeless burden, unless there were people willing to breathe life into it . Thus it is through his association between modern and ancient world that he is able to breathe life into the past, creating a reincarnation of the past that can be relevant to the present. The constant emergence of statues is a way in which the past is able to be reborn. The statues often come to life in an animated fashion, and an example of this can be seen upon the static smile of the statues, that are personified I Mythistorema 20 . It appears that Seferis used events that took place in the past world to attempt to discuss or even solve problems that arose in the present. It has often been suggested that Mythistorema is a poem about the Asia Minor disaster that took place just before the collection was written. Whilst I am not of the belief that this is wholly true, I do believe that ancient mythology often appears in Mythistorema to represent the pain that Greek people felt following the Asia Minor disaster and the continuing pain throughout the second world war and into the civil war that broke out between the Greeks and Turks hereafter. Mythistorema 3, addresses the story of the murder of Agamemnon that took place in the Oresteia . In this play, Agamemnon, having survived the Trojan war returns home to suffer an ignominious death at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra. In resurrecting this story, Seferis is able to address issues of futility as well as portraying a past weighing heavily upon the present. It is apparent here as the marble head is exhausting the elbows, and we are left unable to put it down . Again we see the link in time between the ancient and the modern take place through a dream sequence and we are left to wonder whether the marble statues are harming Greece’s progress out of troubling times. Whilst we have often seen the past’s wonders used to transmit hope to the modern reader, here there seems to be none. The I of the poem seems despondent to a world where failing dreams and broken statues are all too familiar, and, instead of being able to rise out of this rather tragic situation the protagonist is left, at the end of the poem, being suffocated by his own mutilated hands . If we are to believe that the legacy of the ancients can only be of help if we are to breathe life into it then we must question the poem’s intentions in using this statue as a means of hope, a salvation. Perhaps we can deduce that the person does not try hard enough to learn something from this marble head he finds in his hands, however if we are to follow this idea then we must acknowledge that he attempts to speak to the statue and does not find any answers ‘I speak to the mouth which keeps trying to speak’ . However it is unclear as to whether Seferis sees it as futile in trying to learn anything from this broken statue, or believes that the person does not try hard enough to receive guidance out of his own torment. The statue in this instance does not provide the hope we are looking for and instead reminds us of the brutal murder of Agamemnon and the idea of futility.

We are greeted with further representations of statues in Mythistorema 21. Here they seem to deliver the same message of the futility of life as we see at the start a group of travellers who pass some broken statues on their travels. It could be suggested that these are Asia Minor refugees who are seeing a shattered world before them. Nevertheless, what we begin to see develop is a representation of hope in the form of a smiling statue. Unlike what we have just previously encountered, the ancient world is seen as beneficial upon a struggling nation. The poet addresses the fact that both ancient and modern Greece can be ‘united in hardness and weakness’ and thus a moment of understanding can be formed, not just between Greeks and ancient Greeks, but between all who read this. In suggesting that ‘we’, humankind are united in times of struggle, Seferis is able to unify all era’s and all societies under the category of humankind, thus removing (for the Greek people) the burden of the ancient world, and representing a timeless unity between all. In Mythistorema 3 I suggested that the I of the poem did not try hard enough to obtain guidance from remnants of the past. In this poem it is not the case. The poem delivers a great deal of hope because it is looked for. The harshness of reality is ever present with the representation of Greek people ‘upright dying on their feet’ being an ever ominous and chilling depiction of the struggles Greece was facing during the early part of the Nineteenth Century. However through all of this, they are still able to see the smiling statue, to see their past as a glorious heritage to have and a means of guiding them towards future happiness. Perhaps then we are right in listening to Beaton when he says that Seferis believed that the past could have a healing and productive effect on the present if it is used appropriately and constructively.

Taking further the idea of Seferis’ poetry being universalised to address not just Greek concerns but concerns of any person from any culture or time period is an interesting path to follow. I have previously stated that many believed that Mythistorema was written in direct association with the Asia Minor disaster, and this I do not totally dispute. However I choose to agree with Capri Karka who says that ‘There is no doubt that the poem is permeated by a feeling of defeat loss and agony and that feeling is not unrelated to the national disaster (Asia Minor)…but the interpretation of the whole poem as an expression of a particular historical event is rather simplistic. The poem works also on the universal level because it can express the feelings of the defeated, the exiled, the victims of any war’ I think that the universality that arises from Seferis’ poetry is most certainly created by the timelessness that his poetry has , and the statues most certainly act as a means of connecting the past with the present and representing this ‘unforgotten world’ as I like to call it. A contemporary of George Seferis (in as much as Seferis translated much of his work into Greek demotic language), T.S. Eliot speaks of the creation of a great poem being down to the poet’s ability not to represent thoughts and emotions that are unique to him, but to represent emotions that are applicable to us all . Eliot suggests that no poet ‘has complete meaning alone’ and that if we are to think a creation of great poetry as a science experiment then the experiment must contain a catalyst (the tradition, or major work of the applicable genre, in this case classical literature). Eliot suggests then that in order to have a piece of poetry that is timeless, it must acknowledge its tradition and be influenced by it predecessors. Seferis most certainly shows evidence of all of the attributes that Eliot says is necessary in creating great poetry, however what is more interesting is that Seferis is able to both acknowledge and reapply ancient Greek mythology, thus making us reinterpret the whole genre of classical literature in modern context. It is because of his poetry’s ability to do this that we must recognise the importance of time, as without the unity of time, the disjointedness of time or even the statues as a link between eras, he would not be able to achieve all of this.

Mythistorema, just like other major Greek literary works of the 20th century (Elytis) is based on a prophetic vision and ‘utopia’ taking place on a Greek landscape. Seferis differs then from Western writers such as James Joyce, as his poetry integrated fragments of a life which was ‘once complete, close to us, ours for one moment and then mysterious and unapproachable as the life of a stone licked smooth by the wave or of a shell in the sea’s depths’, a life that he could never de-familiarise himself from as it was a life he recognised, a life that Greece knew all to well. In Seferis’ poetry any mythical figures always inhabit a familiar landscape or stage anachronistically and speak through Seferis’ subtle over/undertones with a modern sensitivity. As we have explored in detail the idea of time and ancient relics in Seferis’ poetry and how the ideas of futility and hope are represented, I see an ideal moment now to move towards analysing Seferis’ use of landscape and its impact upon his poetry.

The Landscape Of Love

‘Modern Greece, since becoming a nation in the 1820s has for obvious reasons worked hard to present itself as the heir of the 2,500 year old civilisation which occupied the same landscape and which lies at the root of all European civilisation since‘ . It is for this reason I feel it necessary now to begin to look at some of the ways in which landscape is used to develop the ongoing ideas of hope and futility that we decided exists in much of Seferis’ poetry.

In 1900 Smyrna was a great commercial centre, a melting pot made up of many different cultures and societies. Among which the two major ethnic groups were Greek Orthodox and Turkish speaking Muslims. Seferis did not feel that Smyrna was ever a home to him as Ottoman rule in Smyrna meant that times for Greek Orthodox people were very tough. A letter Seferis wrote to his mother in October 1913, when he was just a young boy of thirteen reads:
‘Here the Turks are against the Greeks and whenever they see a Greek book in any schoolboy’s hand they tear it up’
This emphasises the difficulties for any Greek wanting to get involved with their history. Prevention took place at all levels, not just at school. The year this letter was written times were rapidly worsening for Greeks in Smyrna and by the time that World War One had broken out the Seferiades family decided it was time to leave Smyrna for the foreseeable future. For Seferis, exile from Smyrna was terrible. It is this exile in fact that led Seferis to associate himself with Odysseus (perhaps most notably in The poem Reflections on a foreign line of verse) as they would both spend much of their life wandering in search of home. For Seferis then, Smyrna brought feelings of utter pain and devastation. Whilst he rarely ever talked about his time there, there was a location he was particularly fond of, especially during his childhood. A sea side resort some 30 km from Smyrna called Skala or modern day Laconia. Indeed in later life he would look upon Skala with tremendous happiness and in response to his feelings of this place would say,
‘There the people, sailors, villagers, were my own people. The roads the trees the shores were the roads trees and shores that belonged to me’ .
I think this quote is vital in understanding what Greece meant to Seferis. Certainly not being able to immerse himself in Ancient Greek literature and culture in early life (whilst in Smyrna) frustrated Seferis. His true affectionate feelings for Skala therefore show clearly how he felt about Greece and how he often saw its landscape as a positive and healing affect on him. Hence, within the landscape depicted in Seferis’ literature we often see a promise of hope take hold of the poetry that is otherwise rather bleak and a representative of life’s futility. What is clear therefore is that the two opposing ideas of hope and futility constantly wrestle with one another within the poetry, and in particular, through the imagery of the landscape of Greece.

Towards the end of the previous chapter I began to talk about the effect that living in Greece had on Seferis’ poetry. I mentioned how unlike other Homeric receptions such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, Seferis’ poetry conveyed emotion unrivalled by his European counterparts. It is with this idea in mind that I aim to approach the depiction of landscape in various poems by Seferis starting with a poem called Reflections on a foreign line of verse. One can certainly see the healing effect of landscape take form in the poem Reflections on a foreign line of verse 1931. The poem attempts to show the mortality of a heroic character (Odysseus), ‘It has been said of this poem that its author was the first Greek to see the mythical Odysseus once again on a human scale‘ , ‘his eyes red from the wave‘s salt‘ . By doing this, the poem is able to give hope to someone reading it as, they can associate themselves with a great mythical character such as Odysseus, and aim to achieve the great feats he achieved. Whilst it is important to acknowledge that the myth of Odysseus and the ongoing process of his humanisation that takes place throughout the poem is of great importance, one must recognise that landscape and love work as a means of accentuating this and help to strengthen the emotions which the poem creates. The reference to the sea is a major one throughout the poem and certainly works to represent wandering and exile, ideas that can be associated with Odysseus and with Seferis. If we revisit The Odyssey we see a lot of places where Odysseus finds himself at sea or even in it. Certainly the episode after leaving Calypso’s island, where Odysseus is helped out of a storm by the goddess Isis is a familiar one and does contain similar ideas to ones we see here. Seferis reverses the classical story in as much as Odysseus role has changed. Now he is helping the protagonist, whereas before he was in need of the help. However the idea of a figure offering guidance to another stays the same.
‘I imagine he’s coming to tell me how I too may build a
wooden horse to capture my own Troy’
Whilst it is now Odysseus who is helping others, the representation of a saviour, there to help people out in times of hardship, is nevertheless present in both Book 5 of the Odyssey and within this poem. A message of hope therefore is delivered through the representation of a great mythical hero. Further parallels can be drawn between the Isis episode and the poem. Both Homer and Seferis use the sea to create drama, tension, and as a means of delivering varying moods (for example the storm represents danger whilst calm seas represent inner peace). In The Odyssey, the only way in which the protagonist can survive the terrible storm is with the help of a magical veil and the guidance of Isis. However, Seferis chooses not to create a fantastical way in which to give hope to his protagonist, but rather represents tranquillity by creating a soothing image of the sea. The representation of this ‘waveless blue sea in the heart of winter’ certainly evokes a feeling of tranquillity and calmness, and conveys to us that whilst under the guidance of Odysseus, the sea (perhaps a metaphor for life) will ensure that your journey will be a smooth one. Furthermore by creating a calmness and positivity that springs from the Greek landscape, Seferis is also able to represent what he felt was one of the most important aspects of Greek culture, it’s landscape . The representation of the sea throughout much of Seferis’ poetry can be used to portray feelings of isolation and loneliness (as we shall witness later), however here what is achieved is a feeling of calmness and serenity.

Before the protagonist of the poem receives the guidance of Odysseus, he is greeted by a sea that is full of emptiness and torment.
‘I sit surrounded by exile I hear its distant
murmur like the sound of the sea struck by an inexplicable
The differences between this representation and the previous one of the sea are many. Whilst previously we are met with tranquillity and stability, here we receive a representation of danger and despair in the form of a hurricane at sea. Furthermore the sea is used to create the feeling of exile, perhaps due to its vast emptiness and inhospitable mass. Therefore what we can suggest is that landscape in this instance has a very important role in creating emotion within the poem. Interestingly it is through the guidance of the mythical figure of Odysseus and not the landscape that the mood changes from sombre to optimistic. However it is the landscape that is most effectively used to represent such feelings, and such changes, just as it is the landscape that seems to influence the emotions the poem delivers. Landscape, or more importantly, Greek landscape can be said to contain a lot of emotion for Seferis. Unlike other poets writing classical receptions, Seferis had been immersed in Greek culture throughout his life, and had experienced a lot of torment growing up as child in Asia Minor. Perhaps he thought to exercise his beliefs through the one medium that was a constant link to Greeks throughout the ages, through landscape.

The representation of love within the poem is a positive one. The poem’s first two lines repeat the word ‘fortunate’ , with the protagonist of the poem claiming that Odysseus was a very fortunate man to have ‘felt the rigging of a love strong in his body’ . The voyage of Odysseus therefore is identified with love . The idea of love that this poem delivers, is one that brings hope to difficult situations and, furthermore is a love that is able to give meaning to a life. Seferis uses Odysseus to present an example of this idea, and the poem works to suggest his struggle in this world, a struggle that is perhaps created by love. Odysseus is offered immortality by Calypso in book 5 of the Odyssey , but rejects this offer because of his love for Penelope and his yearning to return to her and the life they once had together. Having represented Odysseus as a mortal man, with the same weaknesses as any modern day Greek or, any modern day reader reading this poem, Seferis is able to give hope to them through the representation of a positive love. This is unusual for Seferis as usually the love his poems represent is either a ‘deep yearning or tyrannical memory, or is associated with betrayal or tedium‘ . We shall see this use of love in a later poem entitled ’Denial’, from the collection ’Turning point’, further on in this chapter. Nevertheless, here Odysseus is portrayed with his ‘eyes red from the wave’s salt , much enduring and more importantly mortal with the same weaknesses we have, which thus directly connects him with the people of Seferis‘ home country.

‘Denial’ is from the collection Turning point 1931. It is during this year that Seferis began to read and get involved in the work of T.S. Eliot who as we know influenced him greatly, most importantly in his collection Mythistorema. The early date of this poem suggests that Seferis had not yet found a way in which to fully use the influence of Eliot to create his own unique poetry, and thus the poem we are going to analyse now, shows how the ideas of failure and alienation, take centre stage without any indication of the hope that is ever present in later poems. Denial then, ‘deals with the sorrow and longing for sensuality’ , an idea that is all to common throughout much of Eliot’s work (see A Game Of Chess ). The effect that sorrow, unfulfilled love and negativity have on this poem is such that the futility of life is brought into question by the protagonist. It is the landscape that creates this negativity that flows throughout the poem, rather like it was the landscape that acted as a calming presence in Reflections on a foreign line of verse. Here, the unpleasant taste of the water suggests that erotic experience was unsatisfying for the protagonist, and thus love was spoiled . In terms of symbolism then, the journey was not reached, as love was unfulfilled. Unlike Odysseus, this character, Elpenor , does not achieve his destination nor does he feel the rigging of love. Moreover he is left writing the name of his failed love in the sand , and this vanishes all to easily. Thus we see that unsuccessful love leads to a unsuccessful journey (symbolically), and by the end of the poem the futility of life is further accentuated as the protagonist’s lives are represented as a ‘mistake’

What is evident therefore is that although this is a very early poem in Seferis’ writing career, landscape was still cleverly used to represent mood and in this instance, ideas of the failure of love. If we are to take into consideration Seferis’ life and all its tribulations, then we must understand that the Greek landscape could offer up all sorts of emotions, both negative and positive. Perhaps we see a negativity here, unaccompanied by hope. As the poem was written so early in Seferis’ career, he had not yet fully developed his own style, and thus we see the rhythmical style of French symbolism without an ability to explore the combination of futility and hope that is established within his later poetry. It is for that reason therefore that we can see Eliot’s influence start to have an effect in the message Seferis is trying to convey, yet it is not developed into his own blossoming style that we see in later poems, like Mythistorema, and Reflection On A Foreign Line Of Verse, which, whilst delivering the ideas of futility and pain, also offer hope.

The final poem I wish to analyse within this chapter is entitled ‘The King of Asini’. The poem has fallen under criticism of the scholar Edmund Keeley who , in his article ‘Seferis and ‘Mythical Method’’ , argues that the poem fails to deliver the message it is trying to, because of its obscurity:
‘I find the images here-the bird, the young woman. The soul, the country- though haunting, though rhetorically moving and persuasive, rather too obscurely modified to convey a dramatic meaning.[…] I also find the concluding stanzas, though beautiful in rhythm and poetic gesture, no less obscure in defining the character of the void that the poet reasserts on entering the poem overtly as a speaker to comment on the implications of the landscape that he has set before us.’
As it is the landscape in the poem that I am looking at and portraying how it delivers varying themes and ideas, I have decided to concentrate on this aspect of the poem, and shall see if an agenda of futility created by the ‘void’ Keeley talks of, is achieved through the imagery of landscape, or if it is too obscure to deliver such an idea. If we once again associate ourselves with the representations of landscape in previous poems, then we must not fail to acknowledge Seferis’ unfaltering ability to use landscape as a means of portraying a way of life, be it positive or negative, and thus would expect him to achieve the same thing here. Primarily the void is created by the absence of a face behind the mask found, and furthermore the absence of an ancient king , however I argue that the emptiness that surrounds the poem is built up by the vivid landscape, which transcends life itself. The landscape seems to convey the difficulties of all humankind, and furthermore the plights that humankind have to face throughout time. Within the poem we see a lot of negativity involved with the landscape, the ’empty beach’, the ’naked branches’ , the ‘vanished port’ and these all add to the creation of an empty and disconcerting feeling that the poem delivers. For me, the absent king is not the only void that this poem presents. Granted the poem does seem to address issues of tradition and mythology that are often obscure and difficult to fully comprehend, just as Keeley suggests . However, what is more important in my mind is the way in which the landscape addresses emotions that we all feel in our lives. Emotions that most certainly reflect humankind, and emotions that make being human very unique. Whilst the landscape within this poem offers emotions that are desperate, lonely and alienating, the very fact that we can relate to them is in my mind quite comforting. By universalising these emotions and representing them through something that is beautiful, through landscape, I believe that Seferis is able to combine opposing emotions once more. The void created by the empty beaches and vanished ports conveys the a feeling of loss, perhaps loss of a great nation. However the fact that we as humans can share in these moments and learn from them and grow from them, building to something better is an idea that Seferis always seems to offer, and this is both consoling and hopeful.

I hope this chapter has shown how both landscape and love are two very similar things in Seferis’ poetry, and that they both offer futility and hope. We have realised the importance of the Greek landscape to Seferis, and how it could offer a healing effect as well as a destructive one. Certainly love and landscape are used as tools to convey human emotion, and they are a cornerstone of Seferis’ poetry.

The Anti-heroic War

The Asia Minor disaster brought about a change in Greek thinking. After this traumatising event of 1922, contemporary Greek poets were no longer content with conveying, par excellence, the valour of Homeric heroes and the glory of war that were found in ancient historical texts and poems, none more so than the Iliad. Instead, ‘the failure of heroism was a subject explored by a number of influential novels in the decades that followed’ . Furthermore, the loss of Asia Minor changed attitudes towards Homer, both Greek attitudes and European attitudes. The English and German ruling classes that went to the Great War 1914-1918, constituted perhaps the widest reading public of Homer that had ever been . Following the war, an American poet showed his revulsion against the whole enterprise of war, a feeling that was widespread across much of Europe and North America:
There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old ***** gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilisation.
Ezra Pound presents the side of Homer that is repelled by war, as opposed to that which united young English and German men in believing death in battle brought both glory and valour. Thus, out of the Great War came a disgust and feeling of futility for the whole ordeal, and this was represented through the literature of writers such as Pound. For Seferis therefore, the Asia minor disaster sparked a similar feeling about war and its futility which, as this chapter shall portray, comes across in much of his poetry. By removing the glory and valour that had previously been attributed to war, and replacing it with destruction and unjust causes, Seferis is able to show the true atrocity of war. This can be seen in two very famous poems, Helen and Last Stop.

In these two poems, Seferis goes deep into the human motivation behind war and sees war not only as
‘a conflict of interest or as the work of impersonal forces but also as a conflict in human relations resulting from human weaknesses, greed, dishonesty and selfishness’ .
Last Stop, the last poem of Logbook 2, was written October 5 1944 when the poet was waiting to return to Greece from exile caused by the German occupation of Greece during this period. The poem thinks about the causes of war, ‘human weakness and corruption, death and degradation‘ . Furthermore it works to represent the futility of war as Seferis saw it. The poem opens, ‘Few are the moonlit nights that I’ve cared for.’ . It is this line that has been a discussion for many scholars who seek to interpret its meaning. One suggestion is that the moon obscures ones ability to read the stars, perhaps alluding to the propaganda put in place by governments that lead young men into believing that they were fighting for a noble cause, when often they were not. The idea then that the moon is able to block the stars and prevent us from seeing the sky clearly is a metaphor for our inability to see the real reasons behind a war. A modern comparison to this idea could be the weapons if mass destruction episode in Iraq, going to war on a premise that was later proved to be unfounded. A second interpretation of this line springs from what Seferis has written in one of his essays. Seferis comments that during the war, on nights when the moon was bright in the sky, air raids were more common.
‘…As the moon was growing larger, the airplanes were increasing in numbers: like the moonlight the houses were deadly. Under the shadow of the trees, this was the only way to spend those nights.’
Both interpretations offer up a bleak representation of war and its harshness, through the image of the moon. Seferis’ description of the moon as ‘deadly’ suggests just this.

The poem questions man’s greed and corruption, ideas that we have already suggested were certainly, to Seferis, one of the causes of wars. The representation of the ‘miser’s safe’ and the ‘coin’s falling onto the table’ indicate that Seferis must have witnessed corruption first hand with his involvement in the Greek government. The people who are waiting to leave for home here are never named, nor is it directly implied that they are the exiled Greek government, however the date of this poem and Seferis’ first hand involvement with the government, would suggest that the exiled government are the subject of his criticism. Man’s delay within the poem (or perhaps the Greek government’s delay) is not only due to the ‘power struggles between opposing nations, but also due to the financial interests of those who stand to profit from war’ . This is a point that Seferis feels he must make very clear, and it is not ambiguous nor allusive, but very blatant, as he wishes to tell the reader about the scandals that occur because of war. It is certainly a very brave route for Seferis to take, as being part of the government as an ambassador, he would have been under great scrutiny from those around him, and to write something so controversial as attributing corruption to government officials, took a lot of courage. It is therefore even more powerful, and calls for us to listen even harder as we have insider‘s knowledge. In terms of our ongoing ideas of futility and hope, I feel both play a part in this representation, however it is hope in this instance I like to take from this, a hope that is created by Seferis, who, in opening our eyes to the corruption that goes on in governments, aims to prevent it from happening in the future. Whether one will ever be free of corruption is difficult to say, however, once one is aware of corruption, there is hope that it may be prevented in the future.

Although Seferis talks of the corrupt government as ‘we’, and although he was involved with the Greek government that was exiled in Egypt, he did in fact always resist the temptation of corruption , and only speaks of ‘we’ here so not to wash his hands of both Greek and human weaknesses. This is an important point that the poem seeks to represent, a point about both human weakness and man’s vulnerability. Seferis speaks of man’s similarity to a sheaf of grass, as he is soft and frays easily in wars . This brings into question man’s nature and his inability to escape from the influences of corruption and greed. Similar ideas involving humankind’s intrinsic behaviour were discussed towards the end of chapter two, and once again here, they offer us representations of futility and hope. The representation of humankind’s natural instincts is something that does reoccur in much of Seferis’ work and is very characteristic of his poetry. In Last Stop, it seems as if he does not blame mankind but rather creates a feeling of sympathy. By portraying man’s innate weaknesses, his thirst for money and his ‘insatiability‘ as the cause of conflict, perhaps Seferis is installing some hope into the fact that it is not malice nor evil that has brought about this war, but basic fallibility. Furthermore, one starts to feel that such conflicts may be able to be prevented if we can think about others rather than our greed, and perhaps in the future we can prevent the same greed fuelled conflicts from happening. This is a hopeful idea that could be developed, the reversal of this is that because it is man’s innate weaknesses that cause these catastrophes, we cannot prevent it from occurring again and again. As it is in our nature to be greedy and insatiable, no matter the attempts taken to restrict such characteristics, we shall always have these tendencies. Here then the complete opposite representation is offered. Futility is portrayed through our inability to change what makes us human, and our weaknesses are clearly there for us all to see as we continue to fight and wrestle with one another. The similarities with ancient Greek literature are clear, the hero struggling against evil but also laid low by his own fallibility and weakness.

The poem ends with a few lines about heroism. ‘Seferis starts, but does not speak about heroes’ . Instead he represents a wounded soldier, a casualty of war who leaves hospital with open wounds, wandering down the streets and fumbling around in agony in the dark . The image is very poignant and contains a lot of pain in its representation as this poor soldier is left ‘howling’ from the agony caused by war. For the Greek reader this passage carries with it echoes of one of the most antiheroic poems in modern Greek literature ‘Michael’ , by Kostas Karyotakis. In this, Michael an illiterate man, unable to hold a gun properly is sent off to war where he is killed in combat. Upon being buried it is discovered that he is too tall for his grave and thus his feet are left unburied. Seferis then, uses the foot and the name, to enrich with echoes of Karyotakis, his own antiheroic picture . The line ‘Heroes go forward in the dark’ represents the absurdity of war and its futility. The idea is that these men who risk their lives for their country do so without the true knowledge of what is actually going on at a higher level. Hence, these soldiers who enlist in the army are actually fighting to feed the greed of the men who do not fight but send men like Michael to war as canon fodder for their own ends. This was the harsh reality of war that Seferis saw, and in commenting on it perhaps he felt he could change it from happening again in the future. After all, as we have seen in chapter one, Seferis felt it necessary to comment on the failings that had happened in the past, so to attempt to prevent them from happening in the future. We saw just this in the poem Mythistorema 2 , and it is evident that this is an important part of Seferis’ poetry, particularly in portraying futility and hope.

In Helen, Seferis, using the premise of Euripides’ tragedy ‘Helen’, alludes to the Cyprus situation and once again emphasises the futility of war and the tragic way in which ‘men fall into traps and fight in vain’ . The protagonist Teucer has similarities to Seferis. Both have experienced a refugee lifestyle at the hands of war and both find themselves being uprooted from their homes and having to find a new location within which they must start a new life. In Euripides’ play, Helen never went to Troy, instead by order of her father Zeus, she was taken, under the cover of a cloud, by Hermes, to Egypt. In the meantime Hera created a ‘breathing phantom out of cloudland and wrought’ . By starting the poem with a conversation between Teucer and Helen, about the phantom upon which the Trojan war was fought, we immediately see the futility of it all, something that Seferis wants to make explicitly clear. Platres is mentioned in the poem on four occasions throughout . Platres never existed during the time of Teucer and is in fact a modern resort in Cyprus. However the fact that Teucer acknowledges its existence adds to the universalization of war and an important point that, no matter the location, the time or who is involved, the drama and atrocity of war always stays the same, and the futility of war and the pain it causes never change. Importantly the idea that a great historical war, such as the Trojan war, a war that is presented as full of glory and valour in Homer, was in fact fought over a phantom adds strength to Seferis’ argument that wars are futile.

Again the moon and the stars play an important part in representing the misconceptions war creates, just as they did in Last Stop. In this poem, the moon blots out the stars causing the archer to miss his target. This suggests that the victims of war lose direction and are influenced by the propaganda used to influence their bodies and minds. In The Thrush, the heart of the scorpion is ‘the tyrant inside man’ thus the image suggests that deceit leads man astray and causes war and destruction. Once again the fallibility of man is represented and a sense of pity is placed upon humankind’s nature and tendencies. In the Iliad, Teucer misses his target on two occasions, failing to kill Hector . Furthermore he is unable to save his brother Ajax from committing suicide after he is told that the armour of Achilles is to go to Odysseus , thus Teucer considers himself a failure. All this stems from war and Seferis incorporates these ideas by representing the archer (of course Teucer was a great archer) missing his target because of war. ‘Once Teucer realises the tragic irony of the Trojan war,’ after the knowledge that Helen was never at Troy, it is no longer a valorous war, but one of despair and futility.

Moving away from Seferis’ poetry, two letters he sent to Henry Miller during the Second World War, is an important step in further understanding Seferis’ attitude towards war and the emotion war created in him. Seferis’ first letter seems to reveal a man whose morale was collapsing during a time of great suffering just before the Greeks came into the war. He writes about the depression and uncertainty all Greeks must have felt as they awaited a war they feared would ‘destroy Greek life as they knew it’ . This letter conveys a feeling of frustration that Seferis had as well as a bleak attitude towards the worsening times in Greece caused by war. It portrays the side of Seferis that saw futility in war and even in life, as he and other Greeks struggled to survive under gruelling conditions. The second letter to Miller is very different. There is a unified resolution and a determination to fight. Seferis picks up the ‘Oxi’ slogan, the Greek word for ‘no’, that according to modern legend, was the response of Prime Minster John Metaxas to the Italian ultimatum which brought Greece into World War Two on 28th October 1940. It became a slogan of resistance during the war and is now celebrated as a national holiday on its anniversary. Interestingly, the two opposing attitudes of each letter represent the opposing ideas of futility and hope that have run throughout not just this chapter on war but the whole dissertation. What can be suggested is that Seferis had conflicting personalities and as we can see here was a man that was driven by emotion and feeling.

The fact that he supports the war in this second letter is slightly unusual, as throughout most of his poetry he criticises war and the destruction it causes. However it is not completely unbelievable, as often Seferis represents war as something caused by man’s frailties, unstoppable and a way of life. Evidently his determination to support his country in times of hardship is something very admirable and offers inspiration to those who read it. Although war is atrocious and futile, there is always a hope to move past it and if we are to take note of everything Seferis has to offer about war, then we can always live with the hope that in the future, restrictions can be put in place to prevent the deaths of so many for the greed and insatiability of mankind.


Futility and hope are two very opposing themes and one could ask whether it is effective to offer two such conflicting emotions in one poem. Seferis achieves this effectively with a combination of many skills. His allusive style, the juxtaposition of classical Greek literature and contemporary allusion allow both futility and hope to be present in his work. Like his great influence, T. S. Eliot, out of the futility and bleakness of 20th century life, there is always the small beacon of hope often represented by a more nourishing and spiritual heritage. Seferis was a fiercely patriotic Greek who loved his homeland but struggled with conflicting emotions. As we have seen in his letters to Henry Miller, he could have both a depressed and bleak opinion of the world and a more positive outlook. We have established some of the reasons behind this, and understandably Seferis had felt a lot of pain throughout his life, both inflicted upon himself and upon a nation he loved so dearly. The Asia Minor Disaster perhaps was the making of Seferis’ poetic vocation, as it forced Seferis into the paths and under the influences of other European writer’s, notably T. S. Eliot. From here we see Seferis begin to work with ideas of futility and hope. The disaster brought great pain upon Greece and upon Seferis, so that he knew that he wanted to present the harsh realities of modern Greek life in order to prevent further disaster and to offer a way out of the trauma that was evidently suffocating modern Greece. It is evident that the poetry Seferis wrote and the life he led were linked, and this really showed in his writing. The poem Last Stop is a clear example of this as it is here that he comments first hand on the corruption he witnessed.

This dissertation has addressed the ways in which futility and hope are presented in Seferis’ poetry and most certainly we can see is how often they come appear in the text, in a variety of ways. The landscape carried a multitude of emotions, both positive and negative, and this certainly illustrates Seferis’ love affair with the Greek landscape. We saw the raw pain Greece was able to cause Seferis ‘Wherever I travel Greece wounds me’ , yet we also saw how the landscape could have a healing effect upon man and could offer purity and innocence. The pain and futility then represented was necessary in Seferis’ mind to show to the world the harshness of reality. Too long had Greece been living under the protection of a 2,000 year old tradition that was so great it was able to mask modern failings. I believe that Seferis felt it necessary to use his poetry as a means of expressing the truth about the modern world as he saw it. It is because of his emotional disposition and the influence of other writer’s, that extreme representations of futility emotionally charge much of his poetry with a disconcerting negativity. However, we must not fail to acknowledge is the offer of hope in his poetry. Seferis does not use his poetry to criticise man’s mistakes without offering a chance for repentance. Moreover, he juxtaposes futility and hope so that men can realise their mistakes and try not to make the same mistakes in the future. From classical Greece to the 20th century, it is surely the human condition for man to fail but nevertheless to keep trying to succeed.


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