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For me poetry has always (or nearly always) been a stimulus and something that points the way ahead. That means: it has always been poetry which opened up new points of view, new prospects for me. This opening is an integral part of poetry's basic functions. It can and has to show us the inner and outer world in all colors, from dreary gray to bright green. And it has to lead us upwards beyond ourselves, beyond our limitations and the restrictions of our views.



The poet, who did this best for me, is

Odysseas Elytis


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His original surname Odysséas Alepoudhélis.

Greek poet and winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Elytis was born in Iráklion, Crete, into a prosperous Cretan family. He studied law at Athens University from 1930 to 1935 without taking a degree and worked periodically in the family's soap manufacturing business.

Inspired by French Surrealism and especially , Elytis started to write verse. His first poems appeared in 1935 in magazine Ta Nea Grammata, which also published George Seferis's works. During WW II when Nazis occupied Greece, Elytis joined the resistance movement and served as a second lieutenant in Albania in 1940-41. In 1943 appeared Asma iroiko ke penthimo ghia ton hameno anthipolochago tis Alvanias, Heroic and Elegiac Song for the Lost Second Lieutenant of the Albanian Campaign.

After the war he wrote critics for the newspaper Kathimerini and worked also for the National Broadcasting Institute. In 1948 he moved to Paris, where he studied literature at the Sorbonne. During this time he became acquainted with Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and others of the Paris art world.

In 1953 Elytis returned to Greece and took an active role in cultural affairs. His silence as a poet ended in 1959 with the long poem, To Axion Esti, reminiscent of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself.

Between 1965 and 1968 Elytis served on the administrative board of the Greek National Theater, and spent then the next two years in Paris after the Greek military coup of 1967. In 1978 he published a long poetic work, Maria Nefeli, which was finished when he returned to Greece. In the poem alternating monologues are spoken by a girl and a poet.

He died on March, 18, 1996

For further reading: Odysseus Elytis: Analogies of Light by I. Ivask (1981); Modern Greek Poetry by E. Keeley (1983).

(from Encyclopedia Britannica)