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Collaborative Article – May 2020: On Loneliness

As we seek to forge and maintain human connection in a time of global disorder, Agora Dialogue is trialling a new format for member interaction. We are asking readers to write a short response to a monthly prompt. These responses will be published on The Forum as a multi-authorial article, aiming to draw our community together through dialogue.

Nikiforos Vrettakos is considered of the four greats in the Greek poetic renaissance of the 1930’s, alongside Seferis, Ritsos, and Elytis. However, unlike his peers, Vrettakos remains unrecognised in English-speaking world, with few published translations and little available academic literature. Vrettakos is known for his simplicity of form, and his thematic explorations of love, God and nature.

This month’s prompt is Vrettakos’ 1961 poem, “Μοναξιά δεν υπάρχει” (“Loneliness Doesn’t Exist”).

Μοναξιά δεν υπάρχει εκεί που ένας άνθρωπος

σκάφτει ή σφυρίζει ή πλένει τα χέρια του.

Μοναξιά δεν υπάρχει εκεί που ένα δέντρο

σαλεύει τα φύλλα του. Εκεί που ένα ανώνυμο

έντομο βρίσκει λουλούδι και κάθεται,

που ένα ρυάκι καθρεφτίζει ένα άστρο,

εκεί που βαστώντας το μαστό της μητέρας του

μ’ ανοιγμένα τα δυο μακάρια χειλάκια του

κοιμάται ένα βρέφος, μοναξιά δεν υπάρχει.

Loneliness doesn’t exist where a man

digs or whistles or washes his hands.

Loneliness doesn’t exist where a tree

stirs his leaves. Where a nameless insect

finds its flower and settles on it

where a brook mirrors a star,

where an infant sleeps with his mother’s breast

between two blissful lips,

loneliness doesn’t exist.

We are interested in hearing what these words evoke for you. Consider the following questions:

  • How do you make sense of the title, “loneliness doesn’t exist”, when many of us are living through extreme self-isolation measures?
  • How are you experiencing loneliness? How are you experiencing connection?
  • What are you learning about the natural world, and your relationship to it, during the Covid-19 crisis?

Craft a written response of up to 300-words, and email to Theodora

Responses can be made anonymous upon request.

Image Source: ellines

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