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The Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis [Hardcover]

Odysseus Elytis , Jeffrey Carson , Nikos Sarris
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 Nov 2004

In awarding Odysseus Elytis the 1979 Nobel Prize in literature, the Swedish Academy praised him "for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clearsightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness." Throughout his long career as a poet, Elytis (1911–1996) remained true to his vision of a poetry that addresses the power of language and connects the history and mythology of Greece to the physical world and to the realities of the modern age. Renowned for their astonishing lyricism and profound optimism, Elytis's poems capture the natural wonders of Greece and give voice to the contemporary Greek—and to a more universally human—consciousness.

Originally published in 1997, The Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis, translated into English by Jeffrey Carson and Nikos Sarris, was the first complete collection of Elytis's poems in any language. Included in this landmark volume were Elytis's early poems, influenced in equal parts by surrealism and the natural world; Song Heroic and Mourning for the Lost Second Lieutenant of the Albanian Campaign, his epic poem connecting Greece's—and his own—Second World War experience to the myth of the eternal Greek hero; his most ambitious work, The Axion Esti; and his mature poetry, from Maria Nephele to West of Sorrow.

For this expanded new edition, Carson and Sarris have added sixty free verse and prose poems first published in Greek in the posthumous 1998 volume From Close By, as well as a set of song lyrics, The Rhos of Eros, and a cantata, The Sovereign Sun, previously omitted. All have been translated with the same care and elegance as the rest of Elytis's oeuvre, brilliantly rendering into English the Greek poet's lyrical voice and the richness of his diction.


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The Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis + George Seferis: Complete Poems + The Collected Poems: with parallel Greek text (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; revised and expanded edition edition (17 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801880459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801880452
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 909,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Carson and Sarris have opened the gates of Elytis' monumental mansion for English-speaking lovers of poetry to enter and feast on the poet's worlds and words.

(Anglo-Hellenic Review)

Book Description

Surreal imagery and a remarkable variety of forms capture the natural, sun-soaked beauty of Greece and give voice to the contemporary Greek -- and to a more universally human -- consciousness.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
What a pleasure now to have the complete poems of Odysseus Elytis, the Greek winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Literature, thoughtfully and sensitively translated by the American poet Jeffrey Carson and the Greek musician Nikos Sarris. Elytis was born on Crete in 1911. His family was from Lesbos, the island of another great poet, Sappho, and Elytis often vacationed there. Carson and Sarris both live on Paros, and it is no doubt their familiarity with the nuances of Aegean sun and sea, and their love for that harsh clarity, that gives them insights into Elytis' poetry. The erotic and the sea are themes that Elytis pursues throughout his long life. (He died in 1996.) Eros is love, sensual love, for the kore, the young woman who appears in his poems; she is a muse, and she also embodies the truth that resides within, and beyond, the familiar things of the world-in particular, the archipelago, the sun-drenched world of the Aegean, of Greece. Any translation of poetry may be suspect, but these translations are not only faithful to the Greek but harmonious with the music and the spirit of the original. Elytis encouraged and approved Carson's and Sarris' twenty-year labor of love and diligence, begun in the late '70's when Elytis happened upon some poems of Carson's. Carson, already an admirer of Elytis' poetry, had written, in Greek, a series of notes on Elytis' work, which Elytis arranged to have published. Elytis encouraged Carson and Sarris to capture the flavor, rather than the literalness, of his poetry, but they found that a literal translation in fact best captured the spirit of Elytis' verse. Carson's Introduction and Notes provide informative and concise guidance to the reader new to Elytis. Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poet Without Borders. 19 Sep 2001
Format:Hardcover
Odysseus Elytis (1911 -1996) was a very gifted Greek poet who dedicated his life to a love of hope, beauty, freedom and Greek tradition conveyed in words and imagery that leave the reader thirsting for more. It is this insatiable thirst for droplets of human comfort during life's anguished moments and visionary beauty which together give rise to rainbows of hope that is shared by people of all cultures that has made Elytis a "poete sans frontiers", or a poet without borders.
The Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis published in 1997 is the first collection of the entire body of poetry of Elytis in any language, including Greek. The translations by Jeffrey Carson and Nikos Sarris do justice to the original poems, providing the reader with the same captivating lyricism and surreal imagery used by Elytis to give voice to the universally human consciousness.
The poetry of Elytis gained the attention of the Swedish Academy which announced in 1979 that Odysseus Elytis had been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature "for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness."
Another honorable recognition was bestowed upon Elytis in 1964 when the renown Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis set Elytis' epic poem The Axion Esti to music and the resulting music and lyrics became so popular that today many Greeks know at least part of the song by heart. The Axion Esti was considered to be the poet's most ambitious poem and was described by the Swedish Academy as "one of twentieth century literature's most concentrated and ritually faceted poems".
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not the _complete_ works 13 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
An awesome book, but readers should be aware that the "collected" in the title is somewhat misleading. "Collected", yes, "complete", no. In August 1998 _Eros, Eros, Eros : Selected and Last Poems_ by Elytis (his real name was Odysseus Alepoudhelis, by the way) was published, containing his last poems.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poet Without Borders. 4 Sep 2001
By "schippergr" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Odysseus Elytis (1911 -1996) was a very gifted Greek poet who dedicated his life to a love of hope, beauty, freedom and Greek tradition conveyed in words and imagery that leave the reader thirsting for more. It is this insatiable thirst for droplets of human comfort during life's anguished moments and visionary beauty which together give rise to rainbows of hope that is shared by people of all cultures that has made Elytis a "poete sans frontiers", or a poet without borders.
The Collected Poems of Odysseus Elytis published in 1997 is the first collection of the entire body of poetry of Elytis in any language, including Greek. The translations by Jeffrey Carson and Nikos Sarris do justice to the original poems, providing the reader with the same captivating lyricism and surreal imagery used by Elytis to give voice to the universally human consciousness.
The poetry of Elytis gained the attention of the Swedish Academy which announced in 1979 that Odysseus Elytis had been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature "for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness."
Another honorable recognition was bestowed upon Elytis in 1964 when the renown Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis set Elytis' epic poem The Axion Esti to music and the resulting music and lyrics became so popular that today many Greeks know at least part of the song by heart. The Axion Esti was considered to be the poet's most ambitious poem and was described by the Swedish Academy as "one of twentieth century literature's most concentrated and ritually faceted poems". This poem recounts the world of Eros, including his battle against the darkness created by misunderstanding and hatred, his victory, and the ultimate justification and praise.
Elytis possessed an historical as well as a moral awareness that became a pivotal part of his poems and served as a counterweight to his deep and abiding love of the Aegean with all of its spectacular beauty. Elytis faced the prospect of his own human mortality as well as the manifestation of tragic human evil when he served with distinction at the Albanian front during the Second World War when the Greeks defeated the Mussolini's army in the first allied forces victory against the Axis. The horrors of that military campaign, followed by his brutal experiences with the Nazi occupation of Greece, a civil war and a military dictatorship, provided a significant catalyst for this gifted poet to continue to carry the literary torch in the tradition of Greece's best poetry which identified ideal beauty with moral good and truth.
The art, literature, philosophy and religion of pre-Classical Greece also greatly influenced the lifetime work of Elytis. In many of his poems, Elytis wrote about heroism in the context of the ancient hero upon whom risks, danger and even terror are thrust by Fate, after which the hero bravely confronts the challenge and is transformed by the experience. The hero, to whom the reader can relate from his own life's experiences, is given this opportunity for growth and development through the inevitable wounds, wisdom and willfulness that result from his encounter with Fate's challenge ... wounds that will heal and sculpt scars of remembrance; wisdom that is born of reflection, generosity of spirit and adherence to life's values; and willfulness of the inner strength of our spirit. A reader of his poetry cannot help seeing himself in many of these poems that at the same time serve to inspire and throw down the gauntlet.

I will always remember Elytis as the Poet of the Aegean Sea. He was born in 1911 and began writing poetry in 1929 in the Aegean islands. He later established himself as one of the leading voices of a generation of literary giants, including his fellow Nobel Laureate George Seferis and Yannis Ritsos. Unlike Seferis who spent a lifetime struggling against melancholy, Elytis is widely appreciated by his readers because he finds hope even in tragedy. His poetry clearly reflects his relentless search for the paradise that lives deeply within all of us and his conviction that the discovery of paradise is within our capability as well as our grasp. Elytis' poems celebrate the vitality and vibrancy of the Aegean landscape, the energies of man and his soul and the spirit of nature. He uses the power of language to link myth with history and to confront good and evil. His poetry clearly reflects his love of hope, freedom and the beauty that is in all.
This first collection of all the works of the great master is a must for anyone who endeavors to explore the Modern Greek culture and discover its representation of the universal human experience. This book has become a source of constant inspiration and discovery in our home.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent translation of a major world poet. 3 Dec 1998
By William Borden - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What a pleasure now to have the complete poems of Odysseus Elytis, the Greek winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Literature, thoughtfully and sensitively translated by the American poet Jeffrey Carson and the Greek musician Nikos Sarris. Elytis was born on Crete in 1911. His family was from Lesbos, the island of another great poet, Sappho, and Elytis often vacationed there. Carson and Sarris both live on Paros, and it is no doubt their familiarity with the nuances of Aegean sun and sea, and their love for that harsh clarity, that gives them insights into Elytis' poetry. The erotic and the sea are themes that Elytis pursues throughout his long life. (He died in 1996.) Eros is love, sensual love, for the kore, the young woman who appears in his poems; she is a muse, and she also embodies the truth that resides within, and beyond, the familiar things of the world-in particular, the archipelago, the sun-drenched world of the Aegean, of Greece. Any translation of poetry may be suspect, but these translations are not only faithful to the Greek but harmonious with the music and the spirit of the original. Elytis encouraged and approved Carson's and Sarris' twenty-year labor of love and diligence, begun in the late `70's when Elytis happened upon some poems of Carson's. Carson, already an admirer of Elytis' poetry, had written, in Greek, a series of notes on Elytis' work, which Elytis arranged to have published. Elytis encouraged Carson and Sarris to capture the flavor, rather than the literalness, of his poetry, but they found that a literal translation in fact best captured the spirit of Elytis' verse. Carson's Introduction and Notes provide informative and concise guidance to the reader new to Elytis. This is the only complete collection of Elytis' poems in any language, including Greek. The poems' bracing adventurousness is not only quintessentially Greek but uncannily American, too, in the tradition of Whitman's sensual inclusiveness and Henry Miller's cosmic exuberance. Elytis may be a healthy elixir for our present minimalist, formalist, confessional fashions. William Borden, North Dakota Quarterly
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not the _complete_ works 13 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An awesome book, but readers should be aware that the "collected" in the title is somewhat misleading. "Collected", yes, "complete", no. In August 1998 _Eros, Eros, Eros : Selected and Last Poems_ by Elytis (his real name was Odysseus Alepoudhelis, by the way) was published, containing his last poems.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being There 13 Mar 2000
By D. F. Warren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This translation by Jeffrey Carson is a delight for the senses. The poetry of Elytis has stimulated a great number of intellectual reviews, but there can be no true appreciation without experiencing the context of his work. These poems present a life that could be lived only in Greece. No translator who has not tasted that life would be able to capture this essence of Elytis. Carson was chosen for this task partly because of his own life in Greece: because he truly does understand.
5.0 out of 5 stars This translation is absolutely beautiful, and harks back to the poet's involvement with ... 19 Sep 2014
By Tristan-Marlowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This translation is absolutely beautiful,
and harks back to the poet's involvement with Surrealism.
I am waiting for scholarly comments on this specific translation....

However, nothing compares to the slightly earlier Edmund Keeley
translation..... EK is one the of acknowledged masters of modern Greek
translation into English. (...including Cavafy and Seferis....
Kimon Friar is another in the same league).
Both capture the color, emotion, and music in the poetry
that inspired M.Theodorakis and other composers, and artists,
and certainly, other poets.
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