Thursday, April 19, 2012

"The Day of Easter" by Dionysios Solomos (A Paschal Poem)


Greece’s National poet Dionysios Solomos (1798–1857) was born on the Greek island of Zakynthos, to an elderly count and his teenaged housekeeper. Solomos was educated in Italy, where he studied law and literature, but on returning to Greece he relearned Greek, and decided to write in demotic, or common modern, Greek. He gained fame early on with his ‘Hymn to Liberty’ (1823), a 158‐quatrain poem – the first two stanzas are sung as the Greek National Anthem.

The poem Η Hμέρα της Λαμπρής or The Day of Easter is most famous from a scene from the award-winning film "Eternity And A Day", by Theodoros Angelopoulos (1998). In the movie Alexandros (Bruno Ganz) and the boy (Achilleas Skevis) are on a bus ride and encounter the Greek poet Dionysios Solomos (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), who recites verses from his poem Η Hμέρα της Λαμπρής. Some consider this scene part of one of the greatest scenes in all cinema:



Η Hμέρα της Λαμπρής

Καθαρότατον ήλιο επρομηνούσε
της αυγής το δροσάτο ύστερο αστέρι,
σύγνεφο, καταχνιά, δεν απερνούσε
τ' ουρανού σε κανένα από τα μέρη,
και από εκεί κινημένο αργοφυσούσε
τόσο γλυκό στο πρόσωπο τ' αέρι,
που λες και λέει μες της καρδιάς τα φύλλα
«γλυκειά η ζωή κι ο θάνατος μαυρίλα».

Χριστός ανέστη! Νέοι, γέροι και κόραις
όλοι, μικροί, μεγάλοι ετοιμασθήτε,
μέσα στις εκκλησιές τες δαφνοφόραις
με το φως της χαράς συμμαζωχθήτε,
ανοίξατε αγκαλιές ειρηνοφόραις
ομπροστά στους Αγίους, και φιληθείτε,
φιληθείτε γλυκά χείλη με χείλη,
πέστε Χριστός ανέστη, εχθροί και φίλοι.

Δάφναις εις κάθε πλάκα έχουν οι τάφοι,
και βρέφη ωραία στην αγκαλιά οι μαννάδες,
γλυκόφωνα, κοιτώντας ταις ζωγραφι-
σμέναις εικόνες, ψάλλουνε οι ψαλτάδες,
λάμπει το ασήμι, λάμπει το χρυσάφι
από το φως που χύνουνε οι λαμπάδες,
κάθε πρόσωπο λάμπει απ' τ' αγιοκέρι,
οπού κρατούνε οι Χριστιανοί στο χέρι.

The Day of Easter

The last cool star of dawn was
foretelling the brightest sunshine;
no cloud, no drift of mist was travelling
across any part of the sky.
Coming from there, the breeze
blew so sweetly across the face,
so gently, that it seemed
to whisper to the depths of the heart:
‘Life is sweet and death is darkness.’

‘Christ is Risen!’ Young and old, maidens,
everyone, little and great, prepare!
Inside the laurel-covered churches,
gather in the light of joy!
Open your arms and with them offer peace,
that the icons of the saints may see.
Embrace and kiss each other sweetly, lip on lip,
let friend and foe proclaim, ‘Christ is Risen!’

Laurels are placed on every tomb,
beautiful babes are held in mothers’ arms,
the choristers sing sweetly
as they come before the icons.
Bright is the silver, bright is the gold,
under the light of the Easter candles.
Each face alights before the holy candles,
that Christians bear in hand.
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