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Saturday, 4 July 2015

Crushed (George Seferis: "The blood swells now..." from Summer Solstice)

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Pensioners line up outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece.

..........................................Pensioners line up outside a National Bank branch in Athens. Bank branches around Greece are open today to allow pensioners to receive a small part of their benefits: photo by Milos Bicanski via FT Photo Diary, 1 July 2015

Pensioners line up outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece.

Pensioners line up outside a National Bank branch in Athens: photo by Milos Bicanski via FT Photo Diary, 1 July 2015
 
The blood swells now
as heat swells
the veins of the inflamed sky.
It is trying to go beyond death,
to discover joy.

The light is a pulse
beating ever more slowly
as though about to stop.

George Seferis (1900-1971), from Summer Solstice, in Three Secret Poems (Athens, 1966); translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard in Collected Poems (revised edition, 1995) 
 
  
pension in Athens, Greece.
\ A pensioner, center, is squeezed as she waits outside a National Bank branch to receive part of her pension in Athens: photo by Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters, 1 July 2015
Pensioners are given priority tickets by a National Bank branch
 A National Bank branch manager in Athens, center, gives pensioners priority tickets as they wait: photo by Alkis Konstantinidis,/Reuters, 1 July 2015
 

6 comments:

Wooden Boy said...

Just found myself overwhelmed at the thought of Greece withdrawing, perhaps the only European nation with the courage to resist the Austerity Project. What critical light will be left to think by?

TC said...

At this point it's beginning to appear that they're not jumping overboard so much as being pushed. The merciless prow of SS Europa, cruise liner of the moribund and endarkened, can be counted on to sink these stubbornly unruly Greeks, with their reckless talk of democracy and worse, sparing only those survivors who race to embrace the brutal economic model which has destroyed them.

They may indeed "vote", out of desperation, with their EU blackmailers closely watching, for more let's-pretend "extensions" of their present abject humiliation, and follow that by throwing out this present government... and tying their futures to this endless debt... so that the death ship Europa may sail grandly and profitably on, all the while continuing to take water below decks ("Migrants? What migrants? Beat them off with the oars, lads!"), everyone up top doing a wonderful job of pretending not to notice.

TC said...

Of course, Seferis is not writing "politically", here, but he was certainly no stranger to the exigencies of history, having spent his life as a diplomat before retiring to Athens; writing here, his delicate sense of the fragility of things, as always "felt upon the pulse" (to employ Keat's apt phrase for a kind of writing that does not forget the body), becomes universalized to include an implicit understanding of the proximity of living intensity to its own extinction, from moment to moment.

This kind of understanding normally comes with age. It is the vulnerability of the old, together with their humiliation, caught in the squeeze as they are, that makes these photos from the past few days, the parabolic scenes from the miserable milieux of the closed banks, so painful to look at.

Sandra said...

"writing here, his delicate sense of the fragility of things, as always "felt upon the pulse" (to employ Keat's apt phrase for a kind of writing that does not forget the body), becomes universalized to include an implicit understanding of the proximity of living intensity to its own extinction, from moment to moment.:"
...you told this so wel " love Sepheris ´

TC said...

Gracias, Sandra.

And talking of "an implicit understanding of the proximity of living intensity to its own extinction, from moment to moment...": here's a fellow who's out on a tightrope without a safety net, at the moment:

Yanis Varoufakis interviewed by Paul Mason, Channel Four News, 3 July

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Y.V.: A beacon of sanity throwing a beam over the troubled, insane waters of the EU.