A Broken Man in Flower: Versions of Yannis Ritsos (Paperback)
A Broken Man in Flower presents new versions of work by one of the most significant Greek poets of the last century, translated by one of the UK's most renowned contemporary poets.
The life of Yannis Ritsos was, to say the least, troubled. From an early age, he was dogged by the tuberculosis that killed his mother and brother. His father and sister suffered breakdowns and spent time in institutions. His poem Epitaphios (1936), a lament for a young man shot dead by the police during a tobacco workers’ strike, was publicly burned by the Metaxas regime and his books banned. Throughout his life he was repeatedly persecuted, arrested and placed under house arrest by the oppressive Greek authorities.
The violence and tyranny of dictatorship is often fractured by the surreal. In the poems collected here, written by Ritsos while in prison and under house arrest, that fracture in perception is a wound. A Broken Man in Flower has an introduction by John Kittmer and includes the text of an illuminating and vivid letter sent by Ritsos to his publisher in 1969 while under house arrest on Samos describing his life – and the lives of Greeks – under the repressive rule of the Colonels.
Harsent's versions of Ritsos' poems express the revolutionary and experimental nature of his work while also remaining accurate translations from the Greek.
'These are "versions" of Ritsos by a major English poet. Yannis Ritsos, one of the most celebrated Greek poets of the 20th century, has at last found a "companion translator" up to the task. The work that is experimental and revolutionary in Greek is experimental and revolutionary in English. Ritsos's output is enormous, his life heroic and eventful, his voice an embodiment of national courage.' — The Times Literary Supplement, on David Harsent's In Secret
'[Ritsos] records, at times celebrates, the enigmatic, the irrational, the mysterious and invisible qualities of experience.' – The New York Times Book Review, on David Harsent's In Secret