Translation Travels: Modern Greek Poems in 1926 London
Theodore Ph. Stephanides and George C. Katsimbalis selected and rendered into English a selection of Greek poems published in 1926 London by Hazell, Watson & Viney. The anthology consisted of 60 poems by 33 poets and, since the poems were not individually dated, forty years of poetry were distilled into one moment and one place, 1926 London. The poets included in the anthology were George Argyropoulos, George Athanas, Homer Bekès, Emilia Dafni, George Delis, George Drosinis, Arghyris Eftaliotis, John Gryparis, Kostas Hadjopoulos, Constantine Karyotakis, Constantine Kavafis, Kostas Krystallis, Athanasios Kyriazis, Miltiades Malakasis, Gerasimos Markoras, Lorenzos Mavilis, Andrew Michalopoulos, Myrtiotissa (Mrs. Drakopoulos), Paul Nirvanas, Kostas Ouranis, Kostes Palamas, Alexander Pallis, Zacharias Papantoniou, Nicholas Petimezas, John Polemis, Lambros Porphyras, Louis Scarpas, Stelios Seferiades, Theodore Stephanides, Panos Tangopoulos, Kostas Varnalis, Peter Vlastos, John Cl. Zervos. Compiled with the goal of familiarizing an English-speaking audience with Modern Greek poetry, Modern Greek Poems offered a selection of contemporary poets ‘belonging to the period beginning from 1886 to the present day’ through a a translation of poems purported to be ‘at least equal to the best examples of contemporary European literature’. The goal was to assess their uniqueness within the remits of the rest of Europe.
Some of the writers included in the 1926 volume, namely Drosinis, Eftaliotis and Palamas, had seen some of their prose translated by Aristides Phoutrides and Demetra Vaka in Modern Greek Stories, published in New York in 1920.[i] In 1928, Angelos Sikelianos’ The Delphic Word was published in New York, as translated by Alma Reed, and a selection of the work of Sotiris Skipis, Patterns from a Grecian Loom, translated by John Harwood Bacon, was published in London. Skipis was introduced as a ‘Neo-Greek’ poet. The Greek National Anthem by Dionysios Solomos had already been translated in 1918 by Rudyard Kipling and 1929 saw the London publication of Erotokritos, the early seventeenth-century romance by Vitzentzos Kornaros, translated by John Mavrogordato. Both Kornaros and Solomos had influenced greatly modern Greek poetic tradition. It would be twenty years after 1926 before poems by Sikelianos and Seferis were published in a single volume translated by Lawrence Durrell and published in Rhodes – in the interim two more collections by Sikelianos will appear in 1939 and 1944 – and twenty-five before The Poems of C.P. Cavafy, translated by John Mavrogordato, appeared in 1951 London.
Featured Image: Syntagma Square, 1926