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Nobel Laureate, Giorgos Seferis wrote two poems about Ayia Napa

Giorgos Seferis was a Greek poet-diplomat. He was one of the most important Greek poets of the 20th century, and a Nobel laureate. He was a career diplomat in the Greek Foreign Service, culminating in his appointment as Ambassador to the UK, a post which he held from 1957 to 1962.

He fell in love with Cyprus and his book of poems Imerologio Katastromatos III was inspired by the island, and mostly written there–bringing to an end a period of six or seven years in which Seferis had not produced any poetry. Its original title Cyprus, where it was ordained for me… (a quotation from Euripides’ Helen in which Teucer states that Apollo has decreed that Cyprus shall be his home) made clear the optimistic sense of homecoming Seferis felt on discovering the island.

He fell in love especially with Ayia Napa, and he wrote two of his most beautiful poems about it.

Αγιάναπα, α’

Και βλέπεις το φως του ήλιου καθώς έλεγαν οι παλαιοί.
Ωστόσο νόμιζα πως έβλεπα τόσα χρόνια
περπατώντας ανάμεσα στα βουνά και στη θάλασσα
συντυχαίνοντας ανθρώπους με τέλειες πανοπλίες·
παράξενο, δεν πρόσεχα πως έβλεπα μόνο τη φωνή τους.
Ήταν το αίμα που τους ανάγκαζε να μιλούν, το κριάρι
που έσφαζα κι έστρωνα στα πόδια τους·
μα δεν ήταν το φως εκείνο το κόκκινο χαλί.
Ό,τι μου λέγαν έπρεπε να το ψηλαφήσω
όπως όταν σε κρύψουν κυνηγημένο νύχτα σε στάβλο
ή φτάσεις τέλος το κορμί βαθύκολπης γυναίκας
κι είναι γεμάτη η κάμαρα πνιγερές μυρωδιές·
ό,τι μου λέγαν δορά και μετάξι.

Παράξενο, το βλέπω εδώ το φως του ήλιου· το χρυσό δίχτυ
όπου τα πράγματα σπαρταρούν σαν τα ψάρια
που ένας μεγάλος άγγελος τραβά
μαζί με τα δίχτυα των ψαράδων. [59]

Agianapa I

And you see the light of the sun just like the ancients used to say.
Yet I thought that I saw it for so many years
walking between the mountains and the sea
encountering men in full suits of armor;
strange, I didn’t notice that I was seeing only their voices.
The blood is what forced them to speak, the ram
that I slaughtered and laid at their feet;
but that red carpet wasn’t the light.
I was forced to fumble for whatever they were telling me
just as when they hide you chased down at night in a stable
or when you finally obtain the body of a woman with full breasts
and the room is filled with intolerable aromas;
whatever they were telling me was of animal hide and silk.

Strange, it’s here that I see it, the light of the sun; the gold net
where objects wriggle like fish
drawn up by a mighty angel
together in the fishermen’s nets.

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