George Seferis’ Mythistorema is a cycle of twenty-four poems, whose title could be translated as “novel. “
The poems form an expedition inside a Helladic, archetypal universe on the outskirts of promontories, archipelagoes and arid landscapes haunted by mythical projections: heroes of happenings that might have taken place, somewhere, sometime, in our collective memory.
As is the case with great poetry there is no need to be familiar with the cultural context that lurks beneath the surface, in order to take in the enigmatic air of Seferis’ poetry.
Its white, incantatory beauty reaches us directly:
“I woke with this marble head in my hands:
it exhausts my elbows and I don’t know where to put it
It was falling into the dream and I was coming out of the
so our life became one and it will be very difficult for it to
(From Mythistorema, “3”) – from George Seferis, Complete Poems, translated and introduced byEdmund Keeley and Phillip Sherrand.
The article “Love and the Symbolic Journey in Seferis’ Mythistorema” by C. Capri-Karka
makes for a every enjoyable annotation to the cycle of poems whose full version can be found here.
The translated "Complete Poems" which includes Mythistorema is a book of afterglows:
“There, you see, at last I love these mountains with this light
their skin wrinkled like an elephant’s belly
when his eyes shrink with age”
(From "Fine Autumn Morning")