Editors’ note: This essay uses the system of transliteration recommended by the Modern Greek Studies Association, in which stress marks are eliminated. Essays in the Critical Survey of Poetry: European Poets on individual modern Greek poets use a system of transliteration that comports with the most often cataloged forms of titles and names seen in the Library of Congress. The index for Topical Essays uses the latter form to conform to all other index in Critical Survey of Poetry.
In an essay written around 1950, the poet George Seferis defined one of the major obstacles to a contemporary understanding of modern Greek poetry: The rarest thing in the world is a foreign authorwho knows Greek. Even now, according to the general perception of foreigners, and perhaps of our own people, classical Greece, Byzantine Greece, and modern Greece are countries which are unrelated and independent. Thus, everyone is limited in his own area of specialization.
As Seferis argued, in order to appreciate the full scope of modern Greek poetry one must see it as “a living art which belongs to a living tradition”—a tradition that extends from ancient Greece through the centuries of the Byzantine Empire to the renaissance of Greek poetry in the twentieth century.