Page 1 of 1

Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:33 pm
by Goldin
The Poetry of Bettina Helen Massie
Bettina (1942-2005) and her husband, Alan Massie, had a synergetically enhanced partnership of long duration, during which Bettina (or, Tina, as she called herself) created poetry of incredible power and beauty, something that derived from her painstaking devotion to good craftsmanship and her natural genius for language. The themes she covered were wide-ranging, though the largest body of her work deals with Greece and, in particular, the island of Hydra. In a real sense, in spite of her American citizenship and her use of the English language as a tool for her poetic craft, it might easily be argued that she is one of the great Greek poets of this age, if we define Greek poetry as poetry by a poet living in Greece, in love with Greece, and dealing with Greek themes. ... 50130.html

The word "Hydra" is used in the titles (!) of 59 poems.

Leonard Cohen is mentioned once, in a poem "Refugees, Hydra".
Refugees, Hydra.png
Refugees, Hydra.png (17.26 KiB) Viewed 4154 times
Song for Hydra.png
Song for Hydra.png (9.53 KiB) Viewed 4154 times

Re: Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:29 am
by Goldin
George Seferis, "Mythistorema" (1935). Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. (Nobel Prize, 1963)

Re: Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:02 am
by anneporter
Thanks, Roman

Re: Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:12 pm
by Sophia
Two poems about Hydra by Irving Layton:


For Marianne

The white cormorants shaped like houses stare down at you.
A Greek Chagal perched them there on the crooked terraces.
The steep ascent is through a labyrinth of narrow streets
Cobbled with huge stones that speak only Arvanitika.
A surfeit of wisdom has made the stars above you eternally silent
Many are ambushed by the silence and many never find their way
To the house where the perpetual party is going on.
If you are on the lookout for monsters or demons
You will not find their legs sprawled out in the terraces.
They are all assembled at the house threshing one another
With extracts from diaries whose pages fly open releasing beetles
That crawl along the grapevines and disappear into a night of ears.
Though only one head can be seen, several monsters have seven
And some have three and some no more than two. Beware of the one
Headed monster with an aspirin in his hand who'll devour you instead.
You know the number of heads each has by the small sucking winds
They make as they dissolve the salads and meats on their plates. So
Listen carefully holding a lighted incense stick for a talisman.
A rutting woman lets her smile float on your glass of punch.
You scoop it up to hand back to her on a soaked slice of lemonpeel.
A poet announces to everyone not listening he has begun a new poem
He hears a spider growling at him from a suntanned cleavage
And at once pierces it with a metaphor using its blood for glue.
A married man discourses tenderly on love and poultices.
It is almost dark when a goddess appears beside you.
She guides your hand under her white robe and murmurs:
"The sweat of invalids in medicine bottles is not love
And wisdom is love that has lost one of its testicles.
Desire is love's lubricant yet love is no wheel spinning in a groove
Love resides neither in the body nor in the soul
But is a volatile element reconciling spirit to flesh.
Love is the holy seal of their interpenetration and unity
When they come together in the perfect moment of fusion.
If you wish to know more about love listen to the crickets on the moon
And emulate the silent shining of the stars but do not become one".
When she vanishes your hand is a river you swim in forever.


Blow, blow hard,
you ask no man's leave

Spit great mouthfuls of water
over the boats
whining like tethered horses,
and crack your long, green fingers,
Neptune, on island walls.

Cleanse me, gods,
of the insincerity
learned in cities

Batter the christian lie in my soul:
wash out tolerance and wisdom
fill my mind with power;
even as you flood
the spaces between the quay's
pavement stones,
pour ecstasy into my breast

Ah, sullen gods,
hurl, heal me with your tempests.


Re: Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:22 pm
by Goldin
Thanks for adding the Layton's poems, Sophia! Right after that we ought to remember Cohen, right?

So called Poems From A Room, collected at LC Files:

Re: Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 12:29 am
by Sophia
Thanks, Roman :-)
There are also Hydra references in Henry Moscovitch poetry:

From New Poems (Mosaic Press, 1982)

And you writing
your Greek poems
under a clear sky,
the red earth beneath
your feet.
I am caught in Montreal
struggling to get
this out
while it rains
and rains.
Where shall I go
for clearer lines,
more ample forms?
(page 43)

Here are my poems
flown across
the Mediterranean
to your doorstep
O poet.
Pick up your
mail and find
me there
still ranting of ice
and snow.
And the girl is far away.
(page 118)

I decided
I'd rather save
my money
than visit you
on the island.
Hydra is a British
war port
and the grey
clouds of war
will soon be upon us.
The Mediterranean
will be dark
with warships
upon it.
I am moving
towards my
destiny in
with a thousand
in my pocket.
(page 33)

Here beside
the Mediterranean
your books
as my guide
(I do not read
other than
what you've written)
I take shape
and blossom
like the red
rocks that form
my soil.

The blue sea
the little island
brings peace
as once I was
weary with the world.
The bright light
adds youth to me
and I awake
from my deep slumber
in Canada's bones
on faraway shores.

Take me warm
and let the fury
that is in me
take shape
like the dark
clouds of war
I see on your
(page 24) ... oscovitch/


Re: Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 1:56 am
by anneporter
Beautiful, Sophia

Re: Hydra in Poetry

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:00 am
by Goldin
So bad I didn't know about this book. Wonder, does the author have any copies left?
The Loulaki Bar
and other poems from Hydra
by Henry Denander

Published by Miskwabic Press, Calumet, Michigan, in 2009

68 pages of poetry and artwork from Hydra, Greece with 42 full page color reproductions of watercolors and drawings in a perfect bound book.

Poems about life and spending time on a small Greek island; tales about food, poets, bugs, Henry Miller, electricians, cats, plummers, music and weather.

Life and people on a small Greek island, through the eyes of a sensitive and humorous observer.

The title poem tells about an encounter with Leonard Cohen, sometime in the 80's.

Three poems from this book here: ... i-bar.html

Henry Denander's blog (2008-2013):