Celebrating World Poetry Day – March 21st

Held every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. Practiced throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.

 

«Message from Irina Bokova»

The voices that carry poetry help to promote linguistic diversity and freedom of expression.

  Irina Bokova, Director General
Message on World Poetry Day 2016

UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.

World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster

the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.  As poetry continues to bring people together across continents, all are invited to join in.

Spring A. D.
Again with spring
she wore light colours
and with gentle steps
again with spring
again in summer
she was smiling.
Among fresh blossoms
breast naked to the veins
beyond the dry night
beyond the white old men
debating quietly
whether it would be better
to give up the keys
or to pull the rope
and hang from the noose
to leave empty bodies
there where souls couldn’t endure
there where the mind couldn’t catch up
and knees buckled.
With the new blossoms
the old men failed
and gave up on everything
grandchildren and great-grandchildren
the broad fields
the green mountains
love and life
compassion and shelter
rivers and sea;
and they departed like statues
leaving behind a silence
that no sword could cut
that no gallop could break
nor the voices of the young;
and the great loneliness came
the great privation
along with this spring
and settled and spread
like the frost of dawn
caught hold of the high branches
slid down the trunks of trees
and wrapped around our soul.
But she smiled
wearing light colours
like a blossoming almond tree
in yellow flames
and walked along lightly
opening windows
in the delighted sky
without us the luckless ones.
And I saw her breast naked
the waist and the knee,
as the inviolate martyr
inviolate and pure
issues from the torment
to go to heaven,
beyond the inexplicable
whispering of people
in the boundless circus
beyond the black grimace
the sweaty neck
of the exasperated executioner
striking vainly.
The loneliness now a lake
the privation now a lake
untouched and untraceable.
                                                       16 March ’39
George Seferis, «Spring A. D.» from Collected Poems (George Seferis). Translated, edited, and introduced by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Copyright © 1995 by George Seferis.  Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press.
Source: George Seferis: Collected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1995)
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