Program Notes from The Gatsos I Loved

Cover image:
Γιάννης Τσαρούχης,
Νίκος Γκάτσος, 1943.
Μολύβι σε χαρτί. ἰδιωτική συλλογή, ©Ἵδρυμα Γιάννη Τσαρούχη.
Yannis Tsarouchis,
Nikos Gatsos, 1943.
Pencil on paper. Private collection, ©Yannis Tsarouchis Foundation.

The Harvard Library
in celebration of the arrival of the archive
of Greek poet and
lyricist Nikos Gatsos presents:

The Gatsos I Loved:
A Concert

Music by Manos Hadjidakis,
Mikis Theodorakis,
and Stavros Xarhakos
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Sanders Theatre
Harvard University
With performing artists:
Manolis Mitsias, voice
Karyofyllia Karabeti, voice and
Achilleas Wastor, piano
Heracles Zakkas, bouzouki and
Artistic collaborator:
Agathi Dimitrouka


About Nikos Gatsos

Born in 1911 in Asea, Arcadia of the Peloponnese, Nikos Gatsos studied literature, philosophy and history at the University of Athens. His reputation as a poet was established in 1943 with the publication of his long poem Amorgos. Writing of both loss and hope in a unique blend of surrealism, symbolism and folk song, Gatsos garnered intense admiration among the post-war generation of Greek poets.
Friends with Nobel laureates George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis, the latter considered Gatsos his “brother” in poetry. He had special relationships with composer Manos Hadjidakis and singer Nana Mouskouri.
After part of his poem Amorgos was set to music by Manos Hadjidakis, Gatsos transitioned to a new and influential role as lyricist for many famous Greek composers, including Hadjidakis, Mikis Theodorakis and Stavros Xarhakos, among others. His collaboration with Xarhakos brought us the unforgettable music in the 1983 Costas Ferris film Rembetiko. The lyrics of Gatsos elevated the quality of song writing in Greece and became very popular all over the country.
Gatsos was also a gifted translator, mostly of theatrical works. He introduced the work of Federico García Lorca, Archibald MacLeish, Eugene O’Neill, and August Strindberg to Greek audiences. The poems and lyrics of Gatsos have been translated into English, French, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Korean, Swedish, Turkish, and Finnish. In 1987, he was awarded the Athens City Prize for his life achievements and in 1991 he was recognized as Deputy Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona for his contribution to the promotion of Spanish literature in Greece.
Gatsos was considered a unique literary figure in Greece. In his later years he would “hold court” in various coffee shops in Athens where he attracted intellectuals, both foreign and Greek, and offered guidance and advice to aspiring poets.
Nikos Gatsos died in Athens in 1992 and was buried in the village of his birth, as he had requested.


Welcome! Καλώς Ορίσατε

On behalf of the Harvard Library, I would like to extend a warm welcome and thank you for supporting this very special Library event. Today’s celebration is the culmination of a nearly two-year effort to bring the archive of Greece’s beloved poet and lyricist Nikos Gatsos to the Houghton Library at Harvard University, to preserve his legacy and make it available for research by scholars from all over the world.
Nikos Gatsos stopped writing poetry shortly after the publication of Amorgos, for reasons that are still debated. Whatever be the reason, this was a gift he bestowed on the world. Hailed by his peers as a poet’s poet, by “giving up” poetry, Gatsos became the people’s poet and left a legacy for us all to treasure. By collaborating with Greece’s finest composers, his exquisite poetry became the popular songs forever etched in the minds and hearts of all Greeks, including those of the diaspora.
He found in his longtime friend and collaborator Manolis Mitsias the ideal voice to bring his poetry to the masses. His oeuvre includes a total of three hundred and sixty songs, all of which appear in a revised edition by Agathi Dimitrouka, Gatsos’s life partner (and poet, writer and translator in her own right). This edition was recently published by Patakis Publishers* and discussions are underway for an English translation of this important work.
Today’s performance of The Gatsos I Loved- O Γκάτσος που Αγάπησα was first produced in 2016 at Parnassos Hall in Athens. It grew from Mr. Mitsias’s wish to have a program dedicated exclusively to songs with Gatsos’s lyrics. The show was originally scheduled for three performances, but the reviews were so enthusiastic that the number grew to ten and quickly expanded to concerts throughout Greece and Cyprus, bringing today’s first USA performance to number thirty-six.
Manolis Mitsias, together with Agathi Dimitrouka, conceived the program and agreed that the tribute should include dramatic readings. They convinced acclaimed actor Karyofyllia Karabeti to participate and sing in this musical event. Known for her diligence as an artist, Ms. Karabeti delivers a full range of emotions both in her readings and singing. Rounding out the program, accomplished arranger and pianist Achilleas Wastor turns his piano into an orchestra, allowing Heracles Zakkas to highlight the distinctive sound and flavor of the bouzouki and mandolin. I hope you enjoy this musical journey through the history and culture of modern Greece via the words of our beloved poet!
Rhea K. Lesage
Librarian for Hellenic Studies at the Harvard Library
* Γκάτσος, et al. Όλα τα Τραγούδια. Νέα αναθεωρημένη έκδοση. Εκδόσεις Πατάκη 2018.


From the Harvard Faculty

“Nikos Gatsos was one of the most prominent figures of the European avant-garde. His long poem Amorgos, which was published in 1943, during the occupation of Greece by the Germans and their allies (Italians and Bulgarians), was almost instantly hailed by both critics and poets as an emblematic work of Greek surrealism. In addition to his influential literary activity as an avant-garde poet, Gatsos devoted a considerable amount of his remarkable creativity to the composition of exceptionally sophisticated lyrics/poems, which were set to music by some of the most important 20th-century Greek composers, most notably by Manos Hadjidakis (Academy Award for Best Original Song; “Never on Sunday,” 1961), Mikis Theodorakis (Lenin Prize for Peace, 1983), and Stavros Xarhakos. Gatsos’s lyrics have marked the whole song culture of Greece in the second half of the 20th century.
The Gatsos archive, housed in Houghton Library, is a major addition to Harvard’s archives on European modernism and of course to its unique collection on modern Greek literature and culture. I cannot stress enough the potential research and educational value of the archive for several scholarly areas, including Modern Greek Studies, the history of European modernism, Comparative Literature, and translation studies.”
Panagiotis Roilos
George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature
Harvard University
“The artistic legacy of Nikos Gatsos is a shining example of the creative fluidity that is ever sustained by Greek song culture—Classical as well as Modern—where song emanates naturally from poetry for the simple reason that no artificial boundary can come between the genius of the poet and the corresponding genius of the musical composer. Already in the Classical era, poets/composers like Euripides exemplified such freedom of artistic self-expression, and Gatsos is a most luminous successor to this proud old-and-new Hellenic ideal.”
Gregory Nagy
Director, Center for Hellenic Studies,
Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature
Harvard University

Message from Stratos Efthymiou
Consul General of Greece, Boston
“Nikos Gatsos is a colossal figure who sealed the contemporary Greek cultural expression. Through his poem “Amorgos” and the lyrics he wrote, he bridged surrealism with tradition expressing the modern Greek identity in his own unique way.
The acquisition of Gatsos’s archive by the Harvard Library has an innate historic significance. I believe that there is no better way to celebrate this highly significant acquisition and to pay tribute to Gatsos’s legacy than by organizing a concert at Harvard with Manolis Mitsias and Karyofyllia Karabeti.
The initiative of Harvard Library is indeed praiseworthy and all those who have contributed to this outcome should justifiably feel extremely proud.”

Odysseus Elytis and Nikos Gatsos



This historic event would not have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors. Not only have they made this concert a reality, they have contributed to the enduring legacy of Nikos Gatsos so that it will live on here at Harvard in his archive for future scholars to study and enjoy.
Platinum • Πλατίνα
The Harvard Library
Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies
The Gerondelis Foundation
The Merriam Family Fund in honor of the Kalambaka Library
Silver • Ασήμι
Nicholas and Jane Kourtis


Extreme gratitude • Εξαιρετική ευγνωμοσύνη
Stephanie Orphanos,
Special thanks • Ιδιαίτερες εuχαριστίες
Athan and Maria Anagnostopoulos, The Greek Institute
Peter Cakridas, Hellenic Voice of America
Consul General Stratos Efthymiou, Greek Consulate General in Boston
Peter Jeffreys, Suffolk University
Lola Kalivas
Stephen S. Kalivas
Zoie Lafis, Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies
Leslie Morris, Harvard Library
Mari Anne Paraskevas
With appreciation • Με εκτίμηση:
Ted Demetriadis, Grecian Echoes
Calliopi Dourou, Harvard University
Panayotis League, Harvard University
Richard Lesage, Harvard University
Peter Liberti
Nicolas Prevelakis, Harvard University
Costis Psimopoulos
Achilles Rakinas, The Embassy of Greece, Washington DC
Lynne Schmelz, Harvard Library
Charles Stathis



Part I

1. Τ’ αστέρι του βοριά (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
The North Star (Manos Hadjidakis)

2. Ήταν του Μάη το πρόσωπο (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
It Was the Face of May (Manos Hadjidakis)

«Οι αληθινοί ποιητές δεν επιβάλλονται, έστω κι από τους πιο προικισμένους άρχοντες. Ανακαλύπτονται κάθε φορά και διαφορετικά. Γιατί ανήκουν στο κοσμικό διάστημα και οι καιροί, οι συγκυρίες και οι τροχιές κάθε φορά τούς φανερώνουν κι από μια διαφορετική πλευρά, με μια διαφορετική όψη […]. Ο Γκάτσος είναι και θα ’ναι απ’ αυτούς που ανακαλύπτονται» — Μάνος Χατζιδάκις.
“True poets cannot be imposed on people, even by the most beneficent authorities. In every instance they are discovered anew and in different ways. This is because they belong to the worldly domain, and the times, the fads and the trends approach them in each instance from yet a different angle, and with a different face […]. Gatsos is and will always be among those who are discovered.” — Manos Hadjidakis.
(tr. Dr. Peter Jeffreys)

3. Πάει ο καιρός (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Gone are the Days (Manos Hadjidakis)

Νίκος Γκάτσος, Ωδή στο Φεδερίκο Γαρθία Λόρκα
Δε γνώρισα τη μορφή σου!
Μπορεί να σ’ έβλεπα μιαν αυγή
Να κατεβαίνεις απ’ τα βουνά σαν ποτάμι
Ή να κοιτάζεις τη θάλασσα
Μιαν ανοιξιάτικη βραδιά κάτου απ’ το κρύο φεγγάρι
Όπως κοιτάζει ο άνεμος μια κοιμισμένη καρδιά.
Μπορεί να σ’ έβλεπα να περνάς
Σαν αστραπή του καλοκαιριού μες στ’ ανθισμένα λιβάδια
Σα μια φωνή νοσταλγική να τριγυρνάς στα δάση
Μικρέ καθρέφτη που φώτισες
Στην ασημένια νύχτα σου την κουρασμένη καρδιά μου
Σαν ένα μακρινό βαθύ συλλογισμένο αστέρι
Σαν το νερό των πηγαδιών όταν κοιμάται αμίλητο
Ρίζα που κλαις από χαρά βαλσαμωμένη στο χώμα
Φύλλο που λάμπεις ήρεμο στο μέτωπο της μέρας
Αίμα ρουμπίνι που κυλάς μες στο κορμί της άνοιξης
Χιόνι λιωμένο κρύσταλλο στη φλέβα ενός ονείρου!
Nikos Gatsos, Ode to Federico Garcia Lorca
I did not recognize your form!
I might have seen you at dawn
Go down from the mountains like a river
Or look at the sea
A spring night under the cold moon
As the wind looks at a sleeping heart.
I may have seen you pass
Like the lightning of the summer in the blooming meadows
Like a nostalgic voice walking around in the woods
Small mirror
On your silver night, lit up my tired heart
Like a distant, deeply contemplated star
Like the water of the wells when it’s silently asleep
Root that you cry over with joy wrapped in the soil
Leaf shining calmly on the cusp of the day
Blood ruby that rolls into the body of spring
Snow melted crystal in the vein of a dream!

4. Ήταν καμάρι της αυγής (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Admired by the Dawn (from Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding, Manos Hadjidakis)

5. Ήσουν παιδί σαν το Χριστό (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
You were a child like Christ (Manos Hadjidakis

6. Το όνειρο καπνός (Μίκης Θεοδωράκης)
The dream that became smoke (Mikis Theodorakis)

7. Μάτια βουρκωμένα (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
Misty eyes (Stavros Xarhakos)

8. Το πανηγύρι των άστρων (Μίκης Θεοδωράκης)
The feast of the stars (Mikis Theodorakis)

9. Μη μου χτυπάς τα μεσάνυχτα την πόρτα (Δήμος Μούτσης)
Don’t knock on my door at midnight (Dimos Moutsis)

10. Αύριο πάλι (Δήμος Μούτσης)
Again tomorrow (Dimos Moutsis)

Νίκος Γκάτσος, Αμοργός, απόσπασμα.
Πετάτε τους νεκρούς είπ’ ο Ηράκλειτος κι είδε τον ουρανό να χλωμιάζει
Κι είδε στη λάσπη δυο μικρά κυκλάμινα να φιλιούνται
Κι έπεσε να φιλήσει κι αυτός το πεθαμένο σώμα του μες στο φιλόξενο χώμα
Όπως ο λύκος κατεβαίνει απ’ τους δρυμούς να δει το ψόφιο σκυλί και να κλάψει.
Τι να μου κάμει η σταλαγματιά που λάμπει στο μέτωπό σου;
Το ξέρω πάνω στα χείλια σου έγραψε ο κεραυνός τ’ όνομά του
Το ξέρω μέσα στα μάτια σου έχτισε ένας αϊτός τη φωλιά του
Μα εδώ στην όχτη την υγρή μόνο ένας δρόμος υπάρχει
Μόνο ένας δρόμος απατηλός και πρέπει να τον περάσεις
Πρέπει στο αίμα να βουτηχτείς πριν ο καιρός σε προφτάσει
Και να διαβείς αντίπερα να ξαναβρείς τους συντρόφους σου
Άνθη πουλιά ελάφια
Να βρεις μιαν άλλη θάλασσα μιαν άλλη απαλοσύνη
Nikos Gatsos, Amorgos, an excerpt.
(tr. Marjorie Chambers)
Cast away the dead said Heráclitus and he saw heaven bleach
he saw in the mud two small cyclamen kissing
and he too fell down to kiss his dead body in the hospitable earth
as the wolf comes down from the forests to see the dead dog
and to bewail.
What use to me is the drop shining on your brow?
I know the thunderbolt wrote its name on your lips
I know an eagle built its nest in your eyes
but here on this watery bank there is one road only
one deceiving road only and you must cross it
you must plunge into blood before time overtakes you
and go across to the other side to find your companions again
flowers birds deer
to find another sea another gentleness.

11. Χελιδόνι σε κλουβί (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Swallow in a cage (Manos Hadjidakis)

12. Η μικρή Ραλλού (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Little Rallou (Manos Hadjidakis)

13. Στ’ ουρανού την άκρη (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
At the edge of the sky (Manos Hadjidakis

Μιχάλης Πασιαρδής, Ιππότης και ποιητής, ποίημα αφιερωμένο στον Νίκο Γκάτσο.
Πότε έτρεχες τα κάστρα της Μονεμβασιάς
και πότε καβαλλάρης ξώπρωτος τα πέλαγα χαιρέταγες
μ’ ένα σπαθί της Μάνης στο δεξό σου χέρι
και μ’ ένα τριαντάφυλλο μεταξωτό από της Παναγιάς το κόνισμα
εσύ ιππότης των παντοτεινών καιρών
ποιητής των αχράντων της αυγής
αλλιώς ωραίος το πρωί κι αλλιώς το ηλιοβασίλεμα
καθώς ο ήλιος έμπαινε μες στο βασιλικό παλάτι να κλειστεί
κι εσύ ουρανοδρομούσες μες στ’ αστέρια.
Τότε τα στάχυα αρμένιζαν με το καλό
τα παποράκια οργώναν πικροκύματα
κι εσύ στητός στην άκρη του γιαλού
με τη ματιά σου χορτασμένη αλάτι
και τα μαλλιά σου σκαλιστά στο βράχο
μ’ αυτό το κοίταγμα που μόνο εσύ γνωρίζεις τι λαλεί
και το κοντάρι υψωμένο σε όρκο
άφηνες από τη σιωπή σου ένα πουλί να πει τα χαιρετίσματα
να πει το μήνυμα
να πει στα πέρα τον καημό
για ν’ ακουστούν τα σήμαντρα και οι καμπάνες όλες.
Κι ύστερα γυρνώντας τ’ άλογο με βια
έπαιρνες τον ανήφορο ψηλά και χάνοσουν
χάνοσουν, έφευγες ψηλά
κατά το μοναστήρι πούκαναν αγρύπνια
κι όλο θυμιάτιζε ο κουρνιαχτός θυμάρι
απ’ τα τραχιά πατήματα τ’ αλόγου σου
που ’τρεχε μέσα στον πευκιά, τις δάφνες και τα δεντρολίβανα
να πάει να σμίξει με τ’ αδέρφι του στην εκκλησιά
εκείνο τ’ άλογο του καπετάνιου Αϊ-Γιώργη.
Έτσι λοιπόν τούτη η ζωή, δεν τη διαβαίνουμε
δεν τη διαβαίνουμε πεζή, μόνο καβάλα,
καβάλα στους αιώνες, – ποιητές
καβάλα κι τρεχάλα, – ιππότες.
Michalis Pasiardis, Knight and Poet, poem dedicated to Nikos Gatsos.
(tr. Dr. Athan Anagnostopoulos)
At times you ran through the castles of Monemvasia
At other times foremost rider, you greeted the open seas
With a sword of Mani in your right hand
And with a silk rose from the Holy Virgin’s icon
You the Knight of everlasting times
Poet of the immaculate moments of dawn
Differently handsome in the morning and different at sunset
As the sun entered shut himself up in his royal palace
And you wandered in the heavens amid the stars.
Then the ears of wheat sailed calmly
The little boats plowed over the bitter waves
And you standing at the edge of the shore
With your eyes filled up with salt
And your hair carved upon the rock
With that glance you only know what it says
And the spear raised high in an oath
You let from your silence a bird to say greetings
To say the message
To say to the world, end the grief
So that the gongs would be heard and all the bells.
And then turning the horse with the force
You took the uphill pathway high and vanished
Vanished, you fled way high
Towards the monastery where they were holding a vigil
And the dust incensed with thyme
From your horse’s harsh hooves
That ran through the pine grove, the laurels and rosemary
To go and unite with his brother in the church
That horse of Captain St. George.
So that we don’t pass through this life
We don’t pass it on foot, only riding,
Riding through the eons – Poets
Riding and galloping – as Knights!

14. Ήρθατε σαν κύματα (Λουκιανός Κηλαηδόνης)
You came like waves (Loukianos Kilaidonis)

15. Παλληκάρι στα Σφακιά (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
Warrior in Sfakia (Stavros Xarhakos

«Ο Γκάτσος (κι όλη η θαυμάσια γενιά του ’30) όχι μόνο δε φοβάται τους γονείς του (τους προηγούμενους ποιητές εννοώ) αλλά είναι ευτυχής που συμβαίνει να είναι γιος τους, και με χαρά κάνει ό,τι μπορεί για ν’ αποτελεί συνέχειά τους». Γιάννης Υφαντής. Κι ο Γκάτσος εδώ απευθύνεται στον Γιώργο Σεφέρη.
“Gatsos (and the whole marvelous generation of the 30’s) not only doesn’t fear his parents (I mean, the previous poets), but he is happy to be their son, and he joyfully does his best to be their successors.” Yannis Yfantis. And Gatsos here is referring to George Seferis.

16. Τραγούδι του παλιού καιρού (Για τον Γιώργο Σεφέρη)
Song from the Old Days (For George Seferis) (Ilias Andriopoulos)

17. Νυν και αεί (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
Now and Forever (Stavros Xarhakos)

18. Ο Γιάννης ο φονιάς (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Yiannis the Killer (Manos Hadjidakis)

19. Ο εφιάλτης της Περσεφόνης (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Persephone’s Nightmare (Manos Hadjidakis)

20. Αθανασία (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Immortality (Manos Hadjidakis)

Intermission (15 minutes)

Part II

22. Κεμάλ (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Kemal (Manos Hadjidakis)

23. Τα παιδιά της καταιγίδας (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
Children of the storm (Manos Hadjidakis)


Νίκος Γκάτσος,
Μια ιστορία στο Σουφλί

Λένε η αγάπη είναι τυφλή
μα όταν ήμουν στο Σουφλί
είδα τού έπαρχου την κόρη
με μπαλωμένο μεσοφόρι.

Μ’ έκανε λίγο να ρεμβάσω
νομίζω πως τη λέγαν Βάσω.

Πάντως την άλλη τη χρονιά
πήρα το τρένο των εννιά
κι έψαξα πάλι να την εύρω
απ’ τη Ροδόπη ως τον Έβρο.

Μ’ έπιασε φόβος μην τη χάσω
νομίζω πως τη λέγαν Βάσω.
Ρώτησα φίλους και γνωστούς
χωροφυλάκους προεστούς
ρώτησα κι έναν ταγματάρχη
έπαρχος μού ’παν δεν υπάρχει.
Μήπως ναυάγησε στη Θάσο
ή μήπως δεν τη λέγαν Βάσω;
Τράβηξα τότε το σκοινί
και πήγα στην Κομοτηνή
μια νύχτα με σκοτάδι πήχτρα
στη νερατζού τη χαρτορίχτρα.
Εκείνη σταύρωσε τον άσο
κι είπε να δούμε πού ’ναι η Βάσω.
Έψαξε δω έψαξε κει
με κέρασε κι ένα ρακί
και μου ’πε με φωνή σπασμένη
που στην καρδιά μου ακόμα μένει:
«Όσα χαρτιά και να διαβάσω
δε θα ’βρω αγόρι μου τη Βάσω».
Μα εγώ μια μέρα γιορτινή
θα περιμένω να φανεί
στου μαύρου κόσμου τ’ ανηφόρι
η τρυφερή τού επάρχου κόρη.
Κι ούτε ποτέ θα λογαριάσω
αν ήταν όνειρο η Βάσω.

Nikos Gatsos,
A Story from Soufli

They say love is blind
but when I was in Soufli
I saw the prince’s daughter
with a patched petticoat

It made me daydream a little
I think her name was Vasso.
Anyway, the next year
I got the train at nine
and I searched again for her
from Rodopi to Evros.
I was afraid of losing her
I think they called her Vasso.
I asked friends and acquaintances
gendarmes and elders
I even asked a Major
a prefect told me she does not exist.
Did her boat sink at Thassos,
or maybe she was not called Vasso?
(Then) I’d reached the end of my rope
going to Komotini to ask,
a night in thick darkness,
the bitter-oranges card-reader.
She drew the ace
and said let’s see where Vasso is.
She searched here and there
she even offered me raki
and said with a broken voice
which still stays in my heart:
“My boy, whatever cards I read
I will not find your Vasso.”
But one festive day
I will wait for her to appear
at the hill of the black world
the tender daughter of the prince
And I will never figure out
if Vasso was just a dream.


24. Πώς να κρατήσω το φως που βασιλεύει (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
How do I keep the light that reigns (Manos Hadjidakis)

25. Η προσευχή της παρθένου (Μάνος Χατζιδάκις)
The Prayer of the Virgin (Manos Hadjidakis)

26. 1922 (Δήμος Μούτσης)
1922 (Demos Moutsis)

Απόσπασμα κειμένου του Οδυσσέα Ελύτη για τον Νίκο Γκάτσο:
«Και θα μου επιτραπεί να υποστηρίξω πως μερικοί στίχοι απ’ αυτούς που έγραψε για την «Μυθολογία» του Μάνου Χατζιδάκι, για τους «Δροσουλίτες» του Χριστόδουλου Χάλαρη και, τώρα τελευταία για το «Ρεμπέτικο» του Σταύρου Ξαρχάκου, ξεπερνούν κατά πολύ μερικά μεγαλεπήβολα σύγχρονα ποιητικά μας έργα και διδάσκουν τι πάει να πει αρρενωπότητα της δημοτικής παράδοσης, οργανική λειτουργία της ομοιοκαταληξίας, ήθος της ελληνικής». —Οδυσσέας Ελύτης.
Excerpt, Odysseus Elytis on the work of Nikos Gatsos:
“And I will be allowed to argue that some of the lyrics that he wrote for Mythology by Manos Hadjidakis for those Drosoulites of Christodoulos Halaris, and, recently, about Rebetiko by Stavros Xarhakos, are outpacing by far some of our great contemporary poetry works and teach what the masculinity of the local tradition means, the organic function of rhyme, the ethos of the Greek language.” —Odysseus Elytis.

27. Μάνα μου Ελλάς (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
Mother Greece (Stavros Xarhakos)

28. Στης πίκρας τα ξερόνησα (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
In Bitterness I Anointed Them (Stavros Xarhakos)

29. Το δίχτυ (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
The Net (Stavros Xarhakos)

Νίκος Γκάτσος, Ο Ιππότης και ο θάνατος
Καθώς σε βλέπω ακίνητο
με του Ακρίτα τ’ άλογο και το κοντάρι τ’ Αϊ-Γιωργιού
να ταξιδεύεις στα χρόνια –
μπορώ να βάλω κοντά σου
μια νεραντζιά στου φεγγαριού τους χιονισμένους κάμπους
κι αυτά τα σίδερα που φορείς μπορώ να σου τα στολίσω
μ’ ένα κλωνί βασιλικό κι ένα ματσάκι δυόσμο.
Μα εγώ που είδα τους απογόνους σου σαν πουλιά
να σκίζουν μιαν ανοιξιάτικη αυγή τον ουρανό της πατρίδας μου
θα βάλω τώρα κοντά σου
τα πικραμένα μάτια ενό. ς παιδιού
μέσα στη λάσπη και το αίμα της Ολλανδίας
Nikos Gatsos, Death and the Knight (tr. M. Zoie Lafis)
As I see you motionless
with the horse of Akritas and with the spear of Saint George
travelling through the years –
I can place close to you
a bitter orange tree on the snowcovered plains of the moon;
and this iron that you wear I can decorate for you
with a sprig of basil and a handful of mint.
But I, who saw your descendants as birds
tearing the sky of my fatherland one spring morning,
will place close to you now the embittered eyes of a child
in the mud and the blood of Holland.

30. Η χοντρομπαλού (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
The Old-timer (Stavros Xarhakos)

Νίκος Γκάτσος, Ο Ιππότης και ο θάνατος
Αυτός ο μαύρος τόπος
θα πρασινίσει κάποτε.
Το σιδερένιο χέρι του Γκέτς θ’ αναποδογυρίσει τ’ αμάξια
θα τα φορτώσει θημωνιές από κριθάρι και σίκαλη
και τότε πάλι στις σπηλιές των ποταμιών θ’ αντηχήσουν
βαριά σφυριά της υπομονής
όχι για δαχτυλίδια και σπαθιά
αλλά για κλαδευτήρια κι αλέτρια.
Nikos Gatsos, Death and the Knight
(tr. Carmen Capri-Karka)
This black land
will one day turn green.
The iron hand of Götz will overturn the carts
it will load them with stacks of barley and rye
and then in the river caverns the heavy hammers of patience
resound again
not for rings and swords
but for pruning tools and plough.

31. Άσπρη μέρα και για μας (Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος)
Better days for us (Stavros Xarhakos)

Άσπρη μέρα και για μαςWe invite you to sing along!

Θα ποτίσω
μ’ ένα δάκρυ μου αρμυρό
τον καιρό
έμαθα κοντά σου να περνώ
γέμισε η αυγή τον ουρανό.

Θα γυρίσω
λυπημένη Παναγιά
έχε γεια
μην κλαις
το μαράζι
μάθε φυλαχτό να μην κρεμάς
να λες
δεν πειράζει
θα’ ρθει άσπρη μέρα και για μας.

Tha poteeso
m’ena dakri mou armyro
ton kairo
ematha konta sou na perno
yemise i avgi ton ourano.

Tha yeerisso
lypimeni Panayia
eche yeia
min klais
to marazi
mathe fylachto na min kremas
na les
den peirazei
Tha’rthei aspri mera kai yia mas.

Better days for us, music by Stavros Xarhakos (tr.David Connolly)

I’ll water
with a salt tear
near you I came to know
filled the down sky.

I’ll return
Sad Holy Virgin
don’t weep
or wear heartache
like a lucky charm
just say
never mind
better days will come for us


The Performers

Manolis Mitsias was born in Dumbia, Chalkidiki. From a young age he was exposed to Byzantine chant as a member of his church choir. In addition, he grew up hearing traditional Macedonian songs and, later, folk songs of the 1950-1960s. At that time, he discovered the songs of the great Greek composers Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis, and poets such as Giorgos Seferis, Odysseus Elytis and Nikos Gatsos, who were to determine his musical journey. He attended higher education, joined the choir “Club of Literature and Arts of Northern Greece” and founded the first night club in Thessaloniki where he began his career. As a student he was arrested by the dictatorship, was tried (along with forty-one other defendants in the Halkidis case) and jailed for his anti-dictatorial activities.
Alekos Patsifas, founder and director of the label “LYRA”, discovered Mitsias in Thessaloniki and urged him to go to Athens, where he met the young composer Demos Moutsis and became his main performer. He then collaborated with the most important Greek composers, such as Vassilis Tsitsanis, Manos Hadjidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Stavros Xarhakos and younger composers. Mitsias has sung in major theaters and halls in Greece and around the world such as the Herod Atticus Theater, Athens Concert Hall, Kourion, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, Royal Theater. Mitsias began working with Nikos Gatsos in 1975 and the poet ultimately wrote most of his songs for Mitsias’s voice.
Karyofyllia Karabeti is a classically trained actor, graduate of the Drama School of the State Theater of Northern Greece. She has worked in both theater and cinema and television with great success. She has played in many theatrical performances, including The Bacchae by Euripides, (Agave); The Seagull by Chekhov, (Arkadina); The Persians by Aeschylus, (Atos); Heroes Square by Thomas Bernhard, (Mrs. Zittel); The Oresteia by Aeschylus, (Clytemnestra); Threepenny Opera by Brecht, (Peachum); Richard III by Shakespeare, (Elizabeth); The Trojan Women by Euripides, (Hecuba); Mourning Becomes Electra by O’Neill, (Christine). From November 1997 to July 1999 Karabeti participated in a major worldwide tour of the National Theater of Greece – including performances in Boston and New York – interpreting Euripides’ Medea and Sophocles’ Electra. In 2007, again with the National Theater, she played Clytemnestra in Sophocles’ Electra, in Seoul and New York. She has also starred in many feature films and TV series.
Achilleas Wastor was born in Athens in 1973. He studied piano at the Conservatory of Athens and later at the Hochschule für Musik in Hannover with Vladimir Krainer. Since then, he has performed numerous recitals and as a soloist with all the prominent orchestras of Greece. In 2007 he was chosen to be the exclusive soloist to the renowned Mezzo Soprano Agnes Baltsa with whom he collaborated in a series of concerts (“Liederabende”) throughout Europe, in the MusikvereinVienna, Opera of Zurich, Prinzregent Theater Munich. As an arranger, Achilleas Wastor has arranged a wide scope of music styles like Bizet’s Carmen Fantasy, Theodorakis’s Zorbas suite for 4 pianos, Stravinsky’s Firebird suite for 2 pianos premiered by Cyprien Katsaris and Etsuko Hirose in Tokyo (2015) and published by Schott Editions (2017). Among the halls he has also performed is Carnegie Hall in 1996 with the National Orchestra of Greek Music, under the direction of Stavros Xarhakos. Recent international concerts have included again a performance in Carnegie Hall, with the renowned Greek singer Maria Farantouri.
Heracles Zakkas was born in Athens in 1969. From a young age he learned to play the bouzouki under music teacher Themis Papavasiliou. Zakkas first appeared professionally in 1985 with Giorgos Mitsakis, after which he began collaborations with Mikis Theodorakis, Stavros Xarhakos and other Greek composers and well-known singers. Since 1994 he has been a permanent collaborator, as a soloist and as a singer, of the Κ.Ο.Ε.Μ. (State Orchestra of Greek Music), which was founded by Stavros Xarhakos. He has participated in many concerts in Greece and abroad – Europe, North and South America, Australia – and recently accompanied Maria Farantouri at a concert at Carnegie Hall. He also has rich discography as a soloist on the bouzouki and as a singer.
Agathi Dimitrouka, artistic collaborator, was born in 1958 near Messolonghi. She was the life partner of Nikos Gatsos and is currently studying his work. She lives in Athens and writes or translates lyrics, poems, fairy tales, narratives, theatrical plays, and articles in her attempt to communicate in a language that is, in her words, “in danger of disappearing.”

Selected Song Translations

Χάρτινο το φεγγαράκι

Θα φέρει η θάλασσα πουλιά
κι άστρα χρυσά τ’ αγέρι
να σου χαϊδεύουν τα μαλλιά
να σου φιλούν το χέρι.

Χάρτινο το φεγγαράκι
ψεύτικη η ακρογιαλιά
αν με πίστευες λιγάκι
θα ’ταν όλα αληθινά.
Δίχως τη δική σου αγάπη
γρήγορα περνάει ο καιρός
δίχως τη δική σου αγάπη
είν’ ο κόσμος πιο μικρός.
Χάρτινο το φεγγαράκι
ψεύτικη η ακρογιαλιά
αν με πίστευες λιγάκι
θα ’ταν όλα αληθινά.

Paper Moon (tr. David Connolly)

The sea will bring birds
and the wind stars of gold
to lovingly caress your hair
to gently kiss your hand.

A moon made of paper
a seashore that’s unreal
if you believed me a little
it would all come true.
Without your special love
time passes all too fast
without your special love
the world is so much smaller.
A moon made of paper
a seashore that’s unreal
if you believed me a little
it would all come true.



Τι ζητάς Αθανασία
στο μπαλκόνι μου μπροστά
δε μου δίνεις σημασία
κι η καρδιά μου πώς βαστά.

Σ’ αγαπήσανε στον κόσμο
βασιλιάδες ποιητές
κι ένα κλωναράκι δυόσμο
δεν τους χάρισες ποτές.
Είσαι σκληρή
σαν του θανάτου τη γροθιά
μα ’ρθαν καιροί
που σε πιστέψαμε βαθιά.
Κάθε γενιά
δική της θέλει να γενείς
που δε σε κέρδισε κανείς.
Τι ζητάς Αθανασία
στο μπαλκόνι μου μπροστά
ποια παράξενη θυσία
η ζωή να σου χρωστά.
Ήρθαν διψασμένοι Κροίσοι
ταπεινοί προσκυνητές
κι απ’ του κήπου σου τη βρύση
δεν τους δρόσισες ποτές.
Σ’ αγαπήσανε στον κόσμο
βασιλιάδες ποιητές
κι ένα κλωναράκι δυόσμο
δεν τους χάρισες ποτές.
Είσαι σκληρή
σαν του θανάτου τη γροθιά
μα ’ρθαν καιροί
που σε πιστέψαμε βαθιά.
Κάθε γενιά
δική της θέλει να γενείς
που δε σε κέρδισε κανείς.

Immortality (tr. Yannis Goumas)

What do you seek, Immortality?
In front of my balcony
you pay no heed to me,
and how my heart endures.

You were loved the world over
by kings and poets
and not a stamen of mint
did you ever give them.
Hard you are,
like death’s punch,
but time came
when we truly believed in you.
Each generation
wants you for its own
that no one has ever won.
What do you seek, Immortality?
In front of my balcony
what strange sacrifice
can life owe you?
Came thirsty magnates,
humble worshippers,
and never did your garden tap
refresh them.
You were loved the world over
by kings and poets
and not a stamen of mint
did you ever give them.
Hard you are,
like death’s punch,
but time came
when we truly believed in you.
Each generation
wants you for its own
that no one has ever won.


Agathi Dimitrouka and Nikos Gatsos


The Gatsos I Loved: A Concert
Rhea K. Lesage, Production Manager
Stephanie Orphanos, Front House Manager
Jason Govostes, Harvard OFA
Mari Anne Paraskevas, Stage Manager
Laureen Esser, Staff
Carol Tierney, Staff
Benjamin Janey, Production Coordinator, Memorial Hall
Jonathan Salz, House Manager
Photography: Alex Mavradis
Sound: Ryan Klann, MJ Audio,
Lighting Design: Holly Gettings,
Video: Harvard Media and Technology Services
Travel Arrangements: The Travel Collaborative
Printing: Peter Liberti, Minuteman Press
Flowers: Brattle Square Florist
Concession: Pedro Morales
© 2018 The Harvard Library