Sunday, 1 January 2012

ΑΣΩΤΟΣ Β΄

Δημήτρης Τσαλουμάς
Jim Potts on Corfu Blues has drawn attention to a poem by his friend, Dimitris Tsaloumas,  the Greek-Autralian poet from Leros, living in Melbourne - a poem he wrote -  Prodigal II for a collection The Observatory published in 1983, also published in the annual literary magazine of the Greek-Australian Cultural League Antipodes (56), 2010 - see two poems, including this, on p.133:
ΑΣΩΤΟΣ Β΄
Χρειάζεται νοικοκυριό και μάτια τέσσερα.
Σου το ’πα κι άλλοτε. Περνάμε
απάνθρωπους καιρούς, ακόμα και οι τράπεζες
θα ζοριστούν, κι έχει πολλούς
που ψάχνουν κιόλας στα παλιά τους τεφτέρια.
Δεν είναι ώρα για δάνεια.
Βολέψου όπως μπορείς. Στα περιθώρια
της αγρυπνίας και του ύπνου τα σύνορα
περιφέρονται ύποπτα σχήματα και σκιές,
κι αν βάνεις τ’ αφτί σου κι αφουγκραστείς
στης νύχτας τις ρωγμές θ’ ακούσεις ψιθύρους
θανάσιμους. Άκου που σου μιλώ.
Πάρ’ τα παιδιά σου και πήγαινε στην εξοχή.
Περάσανε τα χρόνια της σπατάλης. 
PRODIGAL II
It's time for parsimony and circumspection.
I told you before. We're going through
inhuman times. Even the banks will feel the pinch
and already many merchants scour
their dusty books for long forgotten debts.
This is no time for borrowing.
Manage as best you can. On the margins
of insomnia and the boundaries of sleep
lurk dubious shapes and shadows, and if you cup
your ears and eavesdrop
at the door cracks of night, you'll hear deadly
whisperings. Mark my words.
Take your children and head for the bush.
The years of squandering are over.
*** ***
EleftherotypiaΕλευθεροτυπία, was the first new newspaper to appear in Greece after the fall of the Colonels’ regime on July 21 1975. It closed down yesterday after failing to secure funding from banks amid an ongoing dispute with staff owed several months’ wages. Alter TV has also been granted bankruptcy protection under Article 99, reportedly €400 million in debt. Their employees have also not been paid wages for several months. Journalists from other media have collected donations to help unpaid staff at Eleftherotypia and Alter.
**** ****
The weather in the Highlands. Unseasonably mild and in great contrast to the last two years. I walked again for several hours from my mother's house along the lane from Inverarnie. With the two terriers Oscar and Lulu, I strolled south along the edge of Strathnairn through fields that border the river Farnack, running full from yesterday's rain; not in spate.


Level with Farr I turned onto a forest path that continues just a few yards from the river. After a mile and half I turned north on a rough zigzag track up the side of the valley until I came to the higher of the two gravel forest paths wide enough for heavy logging vehicles.
I joined the broad forestry road above Strathnairn
With a strong mild wind at my back I walked swiftly north for three miles gaining extra purchase holding out my arms, pausing to take a photo over toward Easter Ross as I saw the red lights of the Rosemarkie transmitter mast on the Black Isle, the northern shores of the firth trailing north-east along the narrow horizon towards Cromarty and Balintore. I was enveloped in the din of the wind;  now and then the haa of clear rushing water.
A crescent moon shone through watery clouds and as dusk came the underbelly of the northern sky reflected the polluting light of the town. We came to Wester Lairgs farm;  turned west and gently downhill. At the gate on my left to the lower forest track I turned south again, until I came to the esker by Inverarnie where I climbed the low gate to walk over the esker on a rough green path home. I towelled the dogs before treating myself to a cup of tea.
A burn to feed the Farnack
*** ***
"I've no time for New Year's Eve" said my mother
"Nor I"
Friends Christine and James had come round, bringing a sweet scented hyacinth, to share champagne and snacks before going to a New Year Party. There were fireworks and a bonfire on Farquar's field at the end of the lane. Mum and I discussed the future of books - especially a piece she'd read by Jason Epstein last year in the NYRB. I'd said was seeing more and more ebooks being read on screens but that I didn't especially want one myself - for all my enjoyment of new gadgets.
Dirty Book Tom Benedek 2011 in a piece by Ben Ehrenreich in the LARB
We enjoyed watching Fiddler on the Roof (and wondered at how the world has changed since Solomon Rabinovich was writing of Tevye the Milkman...I had hitched a ride with a group of Israeli human rights workers on a tour of the Jordan Valley, riding through lush settler-owned groves of oranges and bananas until the driver stopped on a dirt road and we all got out and climbed the hill to get a glimpse of the river) on the tele' and just over midnight I got a three-way Skype with Liz and Matt in Edinburgh, Lin and Jill and Amy and Guy together in Birmingham.
"Happy New Year, darling. Love you, Happy New Year, grandma. Happy New Year."
"Happy New Year Oliver!" cried mum to the baby, her great grandson, still inside until March.
I also sent exchanged greetings with our neighbours in Ano Korakiana via Dimitra and her dad, Fotis, on Facebook ...Κρόνια Πολλά! Σάïμον και Λίντα Χ.
*** ***
Thanks to Public Issue I was reminded that Transparency International published, on 1 December 2011, its annual rankings of perceptions of corruption in different countries. In the PDF chart that can be viewed via my link, Greece is tied 80th among 182 countries - worse than Rumania, better than Bulgaria. The UK comes 16th, Germany 14th. New Zealand remains top of the list, regarded the least corrupt nation in the world. The consequences of this corruption in the upper echelons of the Republic has been a gaping portal for debt-pushing credit candymen to infiltrate the whole Hellenic economy.
Having seen how well interest-rate swaps worked for Jefferson County, Alabama, Chase 'helped' countries like Greece and Italy mask their debt problems for years by selling a similar series of swaps to those governments. The bank then turned around and worked with banks like Goldman, Sachs (who were also major purveyors of those swap deals) to create a thing called the iTraxx SovX Western Europe index, which allowed investors to bet against Greek debt. In other words, banks like Chase and Goldman knowingly larded up the nation of Greece with a crippling future debt burden, then turned around and helped the world bet against Greek debt.
Στην Αθήνα, οι άστεγοι έχουν γεύμα Ημέρα της Πρωτοχρονιάς.
...that Europe remain unified. I thought of the Song for the unification of Europe - sung in Greek [the words in Greek and English] by Zbigniew Preisner for Three Colours - Blue by the late film-maker, Krzysztof Kieślowski
Ean tais glosais toon antropoon lalo, If with the tongues of men I speak, kai toon angeloon, and of angels, agapen de me echo, love I do not have, gegona chalcos echoon e kumbalon alaladzon. I have become a gong resounding or cymbal clanging. Kai ean echo profeteian, And if I have the gift of prophecy, kai eido ta mystery panta, and know mysteries all, pistin ore metistanai, faith mountains move, agapen de me echo, outen eimi, outen eimi, outer emie Love I do not have, nothing I am, nothing I am, nothing I am. He agape makrotumai, chresteuetai Love is generous, virtuous, he agape ou dzelloi, erpereuetai, ou fysioutai. love does not envy, boast, not proud is. Panta stegei, panta pisteuei, panta elpizei, panta upomenei. All she protects, all she trusts, all she hopes, all she perseveres. He agape oudepotte piptei, Love never she fails. eite de profeteiai, katargetezontai, be it prophecies, they will cease, eite glosai, pausontai, be it tongues, they will be stilled, eite gnossis katargetesetai be it knowledge it will cease. Nuni de menei, pistes, elpis, agape, ta tria tauta, So remain, faith, hope and love, these three, meidzoon de toutoon, he agape, but the greatest of these is love. (Instead of this phonetic transcript I'll try to write these beautiful words in Greek.)
Εάν ταις γλώσσαις των ανθρώπων λαλώ και των αγγέλων, αγάπην δε μη έχω,
γέγονα χαλκός ηχών ή κύμβαλον αλαλάζον. και εάν έχω προφητείαν και ειδώ τα μυστήρια πάντα
και πάσαν την γνώσιν, και εάν έχω πάσαν την πίστιν, ώστε όρη μεθιστάνειν, αγάπην δε μη έχω, ουδέν ειμι.
και εάν ψωμίσω πάντα τα υπάρχοντά μου, και εάν παραδώ το σώμα μου ίνα καυθήσομαι,
αγάπην δε μη έχω, ουδέν ωφελούμαι.
Η αγάπη μακροθυμεί, χρηστεύεται, η αγάπη ου ζηλοί, η αγάπη ου περπερεύεται, ου φυσιούται, ουκ ασχημονεί,
ου ζητεί τα εαυτής, ου παροξύνεται, ου λογίζεται το κακόν, ου χαίρει επί τη αδικία, συγχαίρει δε τη αληθεία.
πάντα στέγει, πάντα πιστεύει, πάντα ελπίζει, πάντα υπομένει. η αγάπη ουδέποτε εκπίπτει.
είτε δε προφητείαι, καταργηθήσονται. είτε γλώσσαι παύσονται. είτε γνώσις καταργηθήσεται.
εκ μέρους δε γινώσκομεν και εκ μέρους προφητεύομεν. όταν δε έλθη το τέλειον, τότε το εκ μέρους καταργηθήσεται.
ότε ήμην νήπιος, ως νήπιος ελάλουν, ως νήπιος εφρόνουν, ως νήπιος ελογιζόμην.
ότε δε γέγονα ανήρ, κατήργηκα τα του νηπίου. βλέπομεν γαρ άρτι δι΄εσόπτρου εν αινίγματι, τότε δε πρόσωπον προς πρόσωπον. άρτι γινώσκω εκ μέρους, τότε δε επιγνώσομαι καθώς και επεγνώσθην.
νυνί δε μένει πίστις, ελπίς, αγάπη, τα τρία ταύτα.
μείζων δε τούτων η αγάπη.
(Thank you my Greek friends for helping me here - Ευχαριστούμε τους Έλληνες φίλους μου για τη βοήθειά μου εδώ)
**** ****
Καλή Χρονιά σε όλους! Happy New Year to one and all!
Παραμονή Πρωτοχρονιάς και οι παρέες των παιδιών ξεχύθηκαν στις γειτονιές του χωριού για τα πρωτο-χρονιάτικα κάλαντα. Το βράδυ, για άλλη μια χρονιά, ο Άγιος Βασίλης συνοδευόμενος από κουστωδία εγχόρδων επισκέφτηκε τα σπίτια μικρών παιδιών του χωριού, προσφέροντας συμβολικά δώρα και τραγουδώντας  τα «αγιο-βασιλιάτικα». Τα αισθήματα των μικρών ήταν ποικίλα, από την σχετική οικειότητα των μεγαλυτέρων, έως την εκστατικότητα, την απορία ή την επιφυλακτικότητα, που καθρεφτιζόταν στα βλέμματα των μικρότερων… Και αυτή τη φορά, η αγιο-βασιλιάτικη κουστωδία μετά τη γύρα της στο χωριό και τα περίχωρα, κατέληξε εις την οικίαν Αθανασίου Μαρτζούκου στις Μουργάδες*, όπου την ανέμεναν καλό κρασί και μεζέδες…Καλή Χρονιά σε όλους!
New Year's Eve and groups of children (Lin and I recognise those in the photo, two being neighbour's) hurry around the neighbourhoods of the village for new year carols. In the evening, for another year, Santa Claus, accompanied by a string troupe visited the homes of young children of the village, offering symbolic gifts, singing 'Agiovasiliatika.' (I can't translate that better - 'St Basil's' doesn't really get it).  Reactions varied - relative familiarity among older children; shy, wondering, enraptured reactions reflected in the faces of the smallest...And this time, Saint Basil's parade, after touring the village and its surrounding, came to Athanasiou Martzoukou's home in Mougathes where, as expected, good wine and mezethes awaited them...Happy New Year to everyone!
*Μουργάδες comes from μούργα, referring to the familiar smell of the pomace pressed out from olives in that neighbourhood of the village.

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