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To all our southern neighbours, rising up for freedom and justice, with whom we share so much and the deep blue Mediterranean sea: the last poem by Yiorgos Seferis (Nobel 1963), written during another Spring 40 years ago, when Greece was under a military dictatorship, an optimistic poem stressing that the unjust sooner or later get what they deserve...
"Epi Aspalathon" (On Thorny Brooms)
Sounio was stunning
on Announciation day
it was Spring again
few green leaves fallen
around the rusted stones
red clay and aspalathi
flashing their big thorns
and yellow flowers
further away the old columns
strings on a harp
What may have reminded me
of that Ardieos?
A word in Plato, I believe
lost in the mind's canals
the name of that yellow bush
is still the same
In the evening, I found the passage
"they tied him hands and feet", it says
"they threw him down and skinned him
they dragged him away and tore him apart
on the thorny aspalathi
then took him away and threw him down the Tartaros (Abyss) like a rug"
Thus, in the Underworld, he paid for his crimes,
Pamfylios Ardiaios, the wretched Tyrant.
(my amateur translation, apologies)
Seferis concluded his Nobel acceptance speech, back in 1963, with the following:
In our gradually shrinking world, everyone is in need of all the others. We must look for man wherever we can find him. When on his way to Thebes Oedipus encountered the Sphinx, his answer to its riddle was: «Man». That simple word destroyed the monster. We have many monsters to destroy. Let us think of the answer of Oedipus.