Yannis Ritsos 1909–
(Also transliterated as Gïannes) Greek poet, novelist, translator, dramatist, and essayist.
Ritsos is one of the outstanding contemporary poets of Greece. A national hero to many in his country, Ritsos writes of cultural and historical concerns important to the Greek populace. Ritsos's reputation was firmly established with the publication of Epitaphios (1936), still considered one of his most important works. Some of his other poems have been collected and translated in Selected Poems (1974), The Fourth Dimension (1977), and Ritsos in Parentheses (1980).
Ritsos demonstrates considerable versatility in his poetic style. His poems range from short, imagistic lyrics to long narratives and dramatic monologues. His themes and subject matter are intensely focused on issues of human rights. An artist with leftist interests, Ritsos was imprisoned and exiled by the various military regimes which governed Greece from the mid-1930s to the late 1960s. Some of Ritsos's poetry which was considered especially subversive was publicly burned. One of his most famous poems, "Romaiosyni," was set to music by the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and is the national anthem of the political left in Greece.
(See also CLC, Vols. 6, 13 and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)