Πρόσφατα άρθρα

In Ritsos’ Moonlight Sonata what sentiments does the woman’s confession provoke/inspire to you and how these compare to the ones felt by the young man who remains silent throughout her long monologue.

Yannis Ritsos' "Moonlight Sonata" is a poignant and emotionally charged poem that presents a deeply intimate monologue of a woman speaking to a silent young man. The setting is night, with the moonlight casting a dreamlike atmosphere over the scene. The woman's confession, filled with personal revelations, memories, and emotions, evokes a variety of sentiments in the reader and provokes a complex response.

In Ritsos’ Moonlight Sonata what sentiments does the woman’s confession provoke/inspire to you and how these compare to the ones felt by the young man who remains silent throughout her long monologue.

Theatricality, didacticism, prosaic verse, use of persons as symbols, contemplative mood, flashbacks are some of Cavafy’s recurring ‘tropes’. Discuss.

Within the vast poetry collection of Constantine Cavafy, arguably, a pattern of recurring tropes emerges, offering the readers an in depth understanding of what defines his artistry. The poems that I have chosen for this essay being Young Men of Sidon, Alexandrian Kings and Kaisarion, from his book The Collected poems. One might say that they serve as an example of Cavafy’s gravitation towards an array of literary devices such as theatricality, didacticism, prosaic verse, use of persons as symbols, contemplative mood and flashbacks, one might say that they create a narrative that extends beyond the individual poems, inviting us to explore the timeless themes captured by Cavafy.

Theatricality, didacticism, prosaic verse, use of persons as symbols, contemplative mood, flashbacks are some of Cavafy’s recurring ‘tropes’. Discuss.

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

stuident Name: Joseph Watson Module Lecturer: Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps Date of Submission: 11/01/2016

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

My Mother's Sin and Other Stories A series of lectures on Modern Greek literature taught by Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps This is a first class essay of one of my students, Jenny Wight, who took my course this year writing beautifully on the effects of loss in Cavafy's poetry.

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

How does Seferis’ mythical method interact with Greece’s lasting socio-political issues?

Seferis uses the mythical method in his poetry to allude to and comment upon social and political issues in Greece in his lifetime. Before discussing his poetry, it is important to define what is meant by Seferis’ mythical method. This method can be described as allusive, as although Seferis does make direct references to myth he does so in inventive ways, for example by using narrative space, symbols and characters to evoke Greek myths.

How does Seferis’ mythical method interact with Greece’s lasting socio-political issues?

The form of Dramatic Monologue as perfected by Ritsos’ poetry.

Yannis Ritsos is widely regarded as one of the most significant figures in contemporary Greek poetry. He managed to revolutionise the idea of a dramatic monologue and create not just beautiful poetry, but also a multifaceted art form that has depth on psychological, social, and philosophical levels throughout all of his publications. The dramatic monologue form was popularised by Victorian poets such as Robert Browning, but Ritsos revitalised it and many poets to this day still use his style as inspiration. His ability to construct identities and characters that the reader can genuinely sense and almost experience is skilful.

The form of Dramatic Monologue as perfected by Ritsos’ poetry.

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

My Mother's Sin and Other Stories A series of lectures on Modern Greek literature taught by Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps This is a first class essay of one of my students, Jenny Wight, who took my course this year writing beautifully on the effects of loss in Cavafy's poetry.

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

«Examine how homoerotic love is expressed in Cavafy’s erotic poetry» By Yousuf Danawi, Reading University

This essay aims to examine the manner in which homoerotic love is expressed in Constantine Peter Cavafy’s erotic poetry.Initially, it will provide a brief introduction entailing contextual information. Subsequently, this essay will bestow an intricate analysis of his erotic poems, with a particular focus on elucidating recurrent themes pertaining tohomoerotic love. The analysis will explore both the formal and thematic constituents of Cavafy’s erotic poetry, accompanied by a pervading extraction of deeper meaning.This examination will be enhanced utilising relevant secondary literature. The primary source that consists of the poems to be discussed in this essay derives from a digital anthology that comprises Cavafy’s ‘Recognised’, ‘Denounced’, and ‘Hidden’ poems

 «Examine how homoerotic love is expressed in Cavafy’s erotic poetry» By Yousuf Danawi, Reading University

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

This essay examines that metaphor in the context of the political and war situation at the time Lysistrata was first performed. It considers traditional gender roles in the fifth-century Greek polis and Lysistrata’s inversion of those roles in her weaving analogy. Aristophanes’ comedic purpose in the weaving speech, in Lysistrata as a whole, and more generally across his corpus is examined. In addition, some observations are made about the sound pattern of Lysistrata’s speech and, in a personal argument, a speculative suggestion is advanced that the audience might have associated her cadences with the familiar rhythms of a domestic weaving loom.

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

Hyperion or the hermit in Greece

Concept, dramaturgy and performance by Dimitra Kreps

Hyperion or the hermit in Greece

The form of Dramatic Monologue as perfected by Ritsos’ poetry.

Maddie Gosling, 2nd year Classics student at the University of Reading
Supervisor: Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps, University of Reading
Title photo: Dimitra Kreps performing Moonlight Sonata for Master’s in Physical theatre, photo credit: Yannis Katsaris

Yannis Ritsos is widely regarded as one of the most significant figures in contemporary
Greek poetry. He managed to revolutionise the idea of a dramatic monologue and create
not just beautiful poetry, but also a multifaceted art form that has depth on psychological,
social, and philosophical levels throughout all of his publications. The dramatic monologue
form was popularised by Victorian poets such as Robert Browning, but Ritsos revitalised it
and many poets to this day still use his style as inspiration. His ability to construct identities
and characters that the reader can genuinely sense and almost experience is skilful. He has
various poetry volumes, but his collection "The Fourth Dimension" comprises seventeen
long poems, in which all but one are dramatic monologues and it is his best-known work
which involves many examples of the technique that he developed. Ritsos’s poetry
therefore brings the past to life in a variety of ways. Greek History is perceived as existing
concurrently because historical events, mythical characters and historical individuals are
frequently combined and purposefully compounded with modern history.
Ritsos' skill in creating rich, complex characters that function as windows in which to
examine a broad range of human experiences demonstrates his grasp on the fundamentals
of the dramatic monologue. Whether they are prisoners awaiting release, mythical figures
or lonely women, they are all working to serve as miniature versions of larger social
narratives. Ritsos himself had a difficult and eventful life; he was a lifelong member of the
Greek Communist Party; in 1936, the Metaxas dictatorship burned his writings at the foot of
the Acropolis in Athens. He was then also imprisoned for four years after the Civil War on
the concentration camp islands of Lemnos and Makronisos. The social context of Greece
during the time period, mixed with his life experiences created a unique take on many
situations with which the reader can resonate. This can be seen in almost all of his poems,
however in terms of writing style he “abandoned rhetorical self-indulgence or subjective
lyricism at some point in his career in favour of the dramatic and symbolic expression of a
tragic sense of life that came to each with a mature vision of the human
predicament”(Keeley 1983). The dramatic monologue in its final form was developed later
in his career. He began with First-person dramatic monologues that were inspired by cords
of classical ancient dramas. The remarks, which appear at the start of the monologues,
include stage directions written in metric, rhyming singles, and long-worded lyrics. In
general, protagonists are not identified by their names in the actual monologue, however,
most are named in the title. Although the pieces are monologues in structure, they are
unique in the fact that they always involve two (or more) characters who appear only in the
remarks. The protagonist no matter who they are, always speaks to the character who is
mentioned in the remarks. However the secondary characters remain mute throughout the
whole speech. I believe that this is an important factor as to why the monologues seem to
resonate with those who read them because the silence of the secondary characters makes
the rambling speeches of the protagonists more poignant, and it also allows the reader to
fully immerse themselves into the emotions as we are always aware that the speaker is
intending for someone to listen.
Ina Beth Sessions, in an article from 1947, came up with classifications for the components
that create the perfect dramatic monologue. She labelled seven elements: ‘speaker,
audience, occasion, revelation of character, interplay between speaker and audience,
dramatic action, and action which takes place in the present’(Sessions, 1947).
These components can be identified in almost every poem in ‘The Fourth Dimension’(
Ritsos, 2016). Most of these poems follow a common formal scheme, with each monologue
being proceeded and followed by a narrative prologue and epilogue, given as stage
directions. In the prologues, we are always given a speaker, an audience, and an event.
Interaction between audience and speaker is evident to varied degrees—in Helen and
Phaedra, the audience appears to also be trapped, while in Ajax, the audience is more
unassertive and you don’t feel as though you are being directly spoken to —but it is always
perceptible. Ritsos' use of anachronism sets even the iconic mythical monologues partially in
the current age, and the dramatic plot always occurs throughout the speech. ‘Much like
George Seferis and other Greek authors before him, he saw in the ancient myths tragicality
a parallel to the tragicality of contemporary Greek Experience’ (Decavalles, 1993). This is
executed perfectly for the modern audience especially for fellow Greeks because mythology
is a large part of the Greek social landscape, and he uses the myths to convey the painful
real-life experiences that not only he but also Greece have experienced such as the military
dictatorship that lasted from 1967-1974. His literary voice blended smoothly with the
characters he created, erasing the distinction between the poet's self and the speaker's
voice. Character revelation is more challenging since Ritsos speakers convey more than
simply a character. Often the legendary figures he chooses in his mythical poems were
people who had no voice in their original myth or who had limited opportunities to express
themselves. Ritsos uses these monologues to ‘ humanize the ancient heroes and
demythologize the aura they live in to make them more accessible, and in his terms more
appropriate, to our times’ (Keeley 1996: 93). This is an interesting choice as it seems to
resonate with Ritsos himself as there have been many times in his personal life that he has
been silenced and both his political and creative voice have been suppressed. Not only this,
but if they are not mythical figures that does not mean they are flat characters. Even in the
more modern-day poems such "Romiosini," which is more than a concept than a physical
character he still manages to encapsulate the essence of Greek identity and resilience
through the descriptive and emotive language which conceptualises the enduring of the
Greek soul.." “he may weep with the assurance of the trees and the stars and his brothers”
(Ritsos and Sharon, 1996, pg.13). This expression depicts the Greek people's fight to
maintain and revitalise their cultural legacy in the face of hardship. His ability to encapsulate
feelings into a poem is driven by the fact that “he concluded that he was essentially a lyrical
poet; what he desired supremely was the presence of what he called “the poetic vapour” in
all he wrote” (Decavalles, 1993).

The interplay between dramatic action and the action that happens in the present is an
important component in a dramatic monologue. I don’t believe that there is a better
example of this in Ritsos’s poetry other than his use of Mythic stories. He is skilfully able to
warp time according to the modern-day event that he is trying to allude to. For example, the
ten yearlong campaigns of the ancient Greeks against Troy narrated in epic poems such as
the Iliad, is understood in the poet’s monologues to be the decade of war (1912-1922) in
which the Greeks fought the Turkish army in the same battlefields. The decade in the Iliad
also transforms through his imagery and double meanings can mean the Greek struggle
against the Nazi troops and later in the 1950s the civil war. This is a creative technique for a
man such as Ritsos to have mastered due to the many conflicts that his political and
personal beliefs have caused him. His poems were banned for many years in Greece for
being too openly political however many of his poems have his own opinions veiled behind
a metaphoric smoke screen of symbolism and imagery. As I have said previously, this kind of
added depth to his poetry across such long lengths like the monologues is one of the main
reasons I believe that readers resonate and are touched by his work, it is also the reason
why his works are continually studied and taught and will continue to be so. Not only is he
able to do it with the actual time frame of the event but he also is able to portray many
forms of a character through one poem. For example, the events and objects that are
mentioned in correlation with the different myths may not be directly related to the
character as it is known in the original. Moreover, the landscape and setting in which the
figures operate are often made to fit into a contemporary setting. For example,
Agamemnon having a “marble staircase covered with purple carpets” (Ritsos, 1993). This is
change in setting is significant as it means they now represent common people with all of
the issues and worries that face modern society. As a result, the anguish and regret that
characters like Agamemnon, Ajax, Electra, and Orestes try to express serve as a metaphor
for both the tragedy of the poet's own life and the anguish that all Greeks have gone
through over the turbulent years throughout their lengthy history.
The dramatic monologue’s deep effect is further enhanced by the poet’s use of form. Ritsos
defies traditional forms by using different stanzaic patterns and rhythms to reflect the
emotional swings in his characters. His monologues have levels of depth added by this
dynamic use of form, which highlights the narrative emotional intensity. This is evident in
“Moonlight Sonata” maybe Ritsos’s most well-known piece from the Fourth Dimensions
collection. This is a confessional monologue that uses symbolism and dramatic language to
encapsulate the despair of the ‘black lady’. The feelings of despair and agony are visceral to
the reader. This is brought about by the growing tension that develops between the speaker
and her listeners as her cries get more intense and her companion starts to pull away. This
underpins the feeling of deep loss that the reader feels. Despite the poem being 18 pages in
length, Ritsos holds and continues the feeling all the way through, and he uses powerful
imagery “And it makes no difference that my hair has turned white, (that is not my sorrow –
my sorrow is that my heart too does not turn white). Let me come with you." (Ritsos, 1975).
This is just an example of the powerful imagery that he uses to make the reader experience
the deep anguish that this lonely woman is feeling. Ritsos also can be seen to be infusing his
own personal messages. Yannis was a known Marxist and parts of this poem could be a
comment on the Bourgeoisie class and how their decline is necessary. Shown through the
dilapidation and withering of the grand house and mirrors in which the women describe,
could be imagery to show that the bourgeoisie should be left in the past like this
unfortunate woman is being. The lady’s soul can also said to be decaying and withering
along with her house every time she cries out to get no reply. I believe that this poem in
particular is masterfully written. It’s like a theatrical play in which you can truly get a sense
of both characters despite it being a monologue.
The thing that makes Ritsos stand out above other poets such as Browning and Cavafy is his
remarkable ability to harness the power of language to evoke visceral emotions through the
use of just one speaker. His manipulation of imagery immerses readers into his characters in
such a way that it exceeds the boundaries of traditional poetic expression. Surreal imagery
is also a technique that he uses in order to blur the lines between reality and imagination
which promotes introspection from the readers. The best example of this can be found in
“The Dead House” in which the narrator is a hybrid of two characters: an old Electra
recalling the horrific events of her father’s return to Mycenae, and an old recluse from the
present day recalling the piano and cutlery in her once-elegant home, along with the return
of twentieth-century war soldiers and their lice-infested undergarments. Although the poem
contains several mythical allusions that allude to the Mycenaean past, Agamemnon’s family
and the fabled House of Atreus, some of the features she describes are not unique to any
one historical era. Under closer inspection, these particulars could indicate that the elderly
Electra who discusses her house and her close relatives may be Ritsos himself reflected in
the storyteller. Ritsos’s own life experiences are not all that unlike the anguish and misery
that Electra is attempting to describe in her monologue. Ritsos is from an aristocratic family,
much like Electra. Similarly, to the house of Atreus, his home was also plagued with tragedy
when the poet was a small child, He was affected by the deaths of his mother and sibling at
a very young age. As well as the unfortunate events surrounding both his sister and his
father passing away in an insane asylum. Perhaps Ritsos saw Electra’s house of death in the
original narrative and thought it to be a fitting stage for his own life story therefore his very
own ‘house of death’. However, due to the lyrical and symbolic nature of his work, these
kinds of deeper meanings will always be ambiguous. In my opinion, this gives the poems a
further level of depth and as I have said previously it promotes introspection for the reader
to think about what it made them feel. As David Harsent states “In dramatic monologues
like The Dead House, direct speech does the job for him. The awareness of which you speak
comes, surely from ownership: the poems are his, as are the people, the events, he’s co￾opted them or they come directly from his imagination, or something of both” ( 2012). This
is a tough boundary to follow because his mythic figures are technically always a part of the
public’s imagination regardless of whether or not he places a true story behind the scenes.
However, to capture the minds and feelings of the audience, especially the Greeks who are
surrounded by the remnants of the past In their general life. The imagery and concept have
to be creative and gripping without being completely farfetched as he is already revisiting
stories that many poets, writers, artists and dancers have had their own take on for
decades. Frequently, the experience invoked is not that of Agamemnon or Ritsos, but rather
the experience of Greece. In ‘Beneath the shadow of the Mountain’ in which Electra who is
aged seventy years old, pieces of Greek history are superimposed on to the audience “Since
then, how many kings have changed, what number of revolutions occurred… one instance
of unadulterated democracy” Ritsos, 1993). This is yet another example of what makes this
poet’s monologues specialised and why people consider him to have perfected it. His ability
to evoke such emotions whilst simultaneously running two storylines alongside each other
both of which have significant history and lore behind them.
In conclusion, Yannis Ritsos is a skilful poet who I have a newfound respect for. His dramatic
monologue especially in his later work is the formula to create poems with gripping and
complex characters and depth that delves into wider social/political contexts without being
openly controversial. Although he is Greek, his avid use of mythology in his works appears to
be for more than just the large relevance they hold in Greek culture. He uses them to
present allegories to the audience that relate to many aspects of social life both in his own
past and in the lives of the Greek public. I admire much of Ritsos’s lyric poetry, but these
poetic monologues reveal a side of his creativity that I have never truly witnessed before
even with other great poets. I believe that he is a truly talented man whose works will be
transient through time as they will always act as marks in the timeline of Greek history and
also show the development of literary style.
Reference list
Decavalles, A. (1993). The New Oresteia of Yannis Ritsos (review). Journal of Modern Greek
Studies, 11(1), pp.171–173.
Harsent, D. (2012). Three Poems after Yannis Ritsos. Poetry, 201(3), pp.346–351.
Keeley, E. (1983). Modern Greek poetry : voice and myth. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press.
Ritsos, Y. and Sharon, A. (1996). Romiosini. Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics,
4(2), pp.115–130.
Sessions, I.B. (1947). The Dramatic Monologue. PMLA, 62(2), p.503.
Yannis Ritsos (1975). The Moonlight Sonata. New Malden: Tangent Books.
Yannis Ritsos (1993). Under the Shadow of the Mountain. Princeton University Press eBooks,
pp.123–146.
Yannis Ritsos (2016). The Fourth Dimension. Princeton University Press.

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