Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Angelopoulos and Seferis in Epirus

There’s an irony in the fact that Epirus, its landscapes, ambience and music, deeply influenced Theo Angelopoulos and featured so strongly in his films – Reconstruction, Travelling Players, The Hunters, Megalexandros, The Beekeeper, Landscape in the Mist; and that irony is that George Seferis – whose poetry and attitudes permeate Angelopoulos’ work – spent a year just before the second world war as Greek consul in Korytsa in Northern Epirus and found the mountains, rain and mist oppressive and did everything he could to engineer a move back to Athens. Still, while pining for the sea and Maro Zannou, he wrote some of his most powerful and melancholic poems, including these lines from Epiphany, famously set to music by Theodorakis below. 

I kept hold of my life I kept hold of my life travelling
among the yellow trees beneath the slanting rain
on silent slopes where leaves of beech drift deep,
no fire on the peaks. Darkness is falling.

Κράτησα τη ζωή μου 

ταξιδεύοντας ανάμεσα σε κίτρινα δέντρα,

κάτω απ'το πλάγιασμα της βροχής

σε σιωπηλές πλαγιές φορτωμένες

με τα φύλλα της οξιάς

καμιά φωτιά

στην κορυφή τους βραδιάζει.

Above is a version of Κοντούλα λεμονιά, Angelopoulos’ favourite folksong, from Epirus, which mourners sang to accompany him to his grave.