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Encomium of the Sea: a Modern Greek prose-poem

Encomium of the Sea (opening)

By Kostas Karyotakis (1896–1928)

Translated by Eugenia Russell


Image credit:

Konstantinos Volanakis (1837–1907)

Anchored Boats (1895)

Oil on canvas

National Gallery of Athens

Encomium of the Sea (opening)


I.


The sea is my only love, because it has the countenance of perfection, and its name is an exclamation.


I remember not its first encounter. I must have been rolling down from a mountaintop, carrying armfuls of flowers. When still a child, I was bringing in my mind the pulse of its rippling. Resting on the beach, I was travelling with the boats that were passing. A world was being born around me. The winds were touching my hair. Bright was the day, on my face and on the pebbles. All was welcome to me: the sun, the white clouds, and the distant roar of the sea.


But the sea knew, and started its song, the song that binds and consoles. (…)



The poet Kostas Karyotakis and elder sister Nitsa with his nephew and another relative, Preveza 1927.