Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard
During the last hundred and more years the Greek world has produced a wealth of poetry that is as astonishing in its scope as it is in its vigour, and this anthology brings together a selection from the works of the five poets who may be said to take pride of place in substantiating this achievement. Two of them, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis, are Nobel Laureates, Cavafy is certainly one of the most ubiquitous poets of our times, the oracular grandeur of Angelos Sikelianos companions him with W. B. Yeats, while Nikos Gatsos is a fine lyrical poet and song writer.
The poems in this selection are for the most part taken from the translators' more ample volumes of translations of Greek poetry, namely, their George Seferis: Collected Poems, of which Peter Levi wrote, 'I doubt if we shall ever see translations as wonderfully full of Seferis as these'; their C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems, described by Stephen Spender a 'a prayer fulfilled'; their Angelos Sikelianos: Selected Poems, and their Odysseus Elytis: Selected Poems. The poems have been chosen as those that translate most successfully into English and at the same time are representative of the best work of the original poets.