Demetrios Capetanakis

The Isles of Greece
& Other Poems

With an Introduction
by Edith Sitwell

The sun is not in love with us,
Nor the corrosive sea;
Yet both will burn our dried-up flesh
In deep intimacy

With stubborn tongues of briny death
And heavy snakes of fire,
Which writhe and hiss and crack the Greek
Myth of the singing lyre.

[From the poem 'The Isles of Greece']

This slim book contains the seventeen short poems written by the young Greek philosopher Demetrios Capetankis before his death in London, in 1944, at the age of 32. The poems are metaphysical poems, and were written in English, not his native language but one in which he achieved such mastery during the few years he lived in England that he was able to concentrate the intensity of his thought into the four-line stanza of English verse. In her introduction Edith Sitwell writes: 'He was, as a thinker, equally a deep diver and a deep delver. But unlike those beings whom he resembled otherwise so strongly, he did not remain a thing apart from the element he explored. He was the element himself.'

Of the poem 'The Isles of Greece' John Lehmann writes, in his Introduction to his book Demetrios Capetanakis: A Greek Poet in England (London, 1947): 'He had spoken more than once about his desire to write a poem representing a truth about Greece which Byron had missed in his famous poem; and now, into those twenty short lines he concentrated all that he felt about his country and her eternally renewed destiny of suffering, lines which are among the most tragic and haunting he ever wrote, and which express Greece perhaps more completely than anything that has been written in our time.'

  • 38 pages, 24.5 x 17.5 cm, sewn pages, 1987

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