The Stonemason’s Yard about 1725 by Canaletto


Τhe Stonemason’s Yard’ is considered one of Canaletto’s finest works. The view is one across the Campo (small square) S. Vidal, looking over the Grand Canal to the church of S. Maria della Carità (Saint Mary of Charity). The square has been temporarily transformed into a workshop for repairing the nearby church (not seen in the picture) of S. Vidal. The blocks of Istrian stone were brought by water to the square. The ‘campanile’ (bell-tower) of the church of S. Maria della Carità on the far side of the Grand Canal collapsed in 1744, after the painting was made, and was not rebuilt.

The painting is not precisely datable but the bold composition, the densely applied paint and the careful execution of the figures are characteristic of Canaletto’s works of the mid- to late 1720s. The informal nature of the scene and the unusual view across the Grand Canal suggest that it was made for a local Venetian patron rather than a foreign visitor to Venice.

Oscar Wild: two poems for Greece.[16/10/1854-30/11/1900]



I. Impression du Voyage                                                                                                    

THE sea was sapphire coloured, and the sky
  Burned like a heated opal through the air,
  We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair
For the blue lands that to the eastward lie.
From the steep prow I marked with quickening eye          5
  Zakynthos, every olive grove and creek,
  Ithaca’s cliff, Lycaon’s snowy peak,
And all the flower-strewn hills of Arcady.
The flapping of the sail against the mast,
  The ripple of the water on the side,   10
  The ripple of girls’ laughter at the stern,
The only sounds:—when ’gan the West to burn,
  And a red sun upon the seas to ride,
  I stood upon the soil of Greece at last!


II. The Isles of Greece


THE isles of Greece! the isles of Greece
  Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
  Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,          5
But all, except their sun, is set.


The Scian and the Teian muse,
  The hero’s harp, the lover’s lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse:
  Their place of birth alone is mute   10
To sounds which echo further west
Than your sires’ ‘Islands of the Blest.


The mountains look on Marathon—
  And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,   15
  I dream’d that Greece might still be free;
For standing on the Persians’ grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.


A king sate on the rocky brow
  Which looks o’er sea-born Salamis;   20
And ships, by thousands, lay below,
  And men in nations;—all were his!
He counted them at break of day—
And when the sun set, where were they?


And where are they? and where art thou,   25
  My country? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now—
  The heroic bosom beats no more!
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine?   30


‘Tis something in the dearth of fame,
  Though link’d among a fetter’d race,
To feel at least a patriot’s shame,
  Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here?   35
For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear.


Must we but weep o’er days more blest?
  Must we but blush?—Our fathers bled.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
  A remnant of our Spartan dead!   40
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylæ!


What, silent still? and silent all?
  Ah! no;—the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent’s fall,   45
  And answer, ‘Let one living head,
But one, arise,—we come, we come!’
‘Tis but the living who are dumb.


In vain—in vain: strike other chords;
  Fill high the cup with Samian wine!   50
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
  And shed the blood of Scio’s vine:
Hark! rising to the ignoble call—
How answers each bold Bacchanal!


You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet;   55
  Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
  The nobler and the manlier one?
You have the letters Cadmus gave—
Think ye he meant them for a slave?   60


Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
  We will not think of themes like these!
It made Anacreon’s song divine:
  He served—but served Polycrates—
A tyrant; but our masters then   65
Were still, at least, our countrymen.


The tyrant of the Chersonese
  Was freedom’s best and bravest friend;
That tyrant was Miltiades!
  O that the present hour would lend   70
Another despot of the kind!
Such chains as his were sure to bind.


Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
  On Suli’s rock, and Parga’s shore,
Exists the remnant of a line   75
  Such as the Doric mothers bore;
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,
The Heracleidan blood might own.


Trust not for freedom to the Franks—
  They have a king who buys and sells;   80
In native swords and native ranks
  The only hope of courage dwells:
But Turkish force and Latin fraud
Would break your shield, however broad.


Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!   85
  Our virgins dance beneath the shade—
I see their glorious black eyes shine;
  But gazing on each glowing maid,
My own the burning tear-drop laves,
To think such breasts must suckle slaves.   90


Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
  Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
  There, swan-like, let me sing and die:
A land of slaves shall ne’er be mine—   95
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!


The Waste Land a poem by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)



The first edition of this work was published in 1922, first in the UK in Eliot’s own literary magazine The Criterion, a month later in the US magazine The Dial, and the same year in book form by Boni and Liveright, New York. The first UK edition in book form was in 1923, by the Hogarth Press run by Leonard and Virginia Woolf London.

Considered to be one of the most significant poems ever written, particularly as a 20th century  representative Modernist work of literature.

The Waste Land 


I. The Burial of the Dead

  April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.


Η Έρημη Χώρα

Μετ. Γ. Σεφέρης

Ο Απρίλης είναι ο μήνας ο σκληρός, γεννώντας
Μες απ’ την πεθαμένη γη τις πασχαλιές, σμίγοντας
Θύμηση κι επιθυμία, ταράζοντας
Με τη βροχή της άνοιξης ρίζες οκνές.
Ο χειμώνας μας ζέσταινε, σκεπάζοντας
Τη γη με το χιόνι της λησμονιάς, θρέφοντας
Λίγη ζωή μ’ απόξερους βολβούς.
Το καλοκαίρι μας ξάφνισε καθώς ήρθε πάνω απ’ το Σταρνμπέργκερζε
Με μια μπόρα· σταματήσαμε στις κολόνες,
Και προχωρήσαμε στη λιακάδα, ως το Χόφγκαρτεν,
Κι ήπιαμε καφέ, και κουβεντιάσαμε καμιάν ώρα.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
Και σαν ήμασταν παιδιά, μέναμε στου αρχιδούκα,
Του ξαδέρφου μου, με πήρε με το έλκηθρο,
Και τρόμαξα. Κι έλεγε, Μαρία,
Μαρία, κρατήσου δυνατά. Και πήραμε τhν κατηφόρα.
Εκεί νιώθεις ελευθερία, στa βουνά.
Διαβάζω, σχεδόν όλη νύχτα, και πηγαίνω το χειμώνα στο νότο.
Ποιες ρίζες απλώνονται γρυπές, ποιοι κλώνοι δυναμώνουν
Μέσα στα πέτρινα τούτα σαρίδια;Γιε του ανθρώπου,
Να πεις ή να μαντέψεις, δεν μπορείς, γιατί γνωρίζεις μόνο
Μια στοίβα σπασμένες εικόνες, όπου χτυπάει ο ήλιός,
Και δε σου δίνει σκέπη το πεθαμένο δέντρο, κι ο γρύλος ανακούφιση,
Κι η στεγνή πέτρα ήχο νερού. Μόνο
Έχει σκιά στον κόκκινο τούτο βράχο,
(Έλα κάτω απ’ τον ίσκιο του κόκκινου βράχου),
Και θα σου δείξω κάτι διαφορετικό
Κι από τον ίσκιο σου το πρωί που δρασκελάει ξοπίσω σου
Κι από τον ίσκιο σου το βράδυ που ορθώνεται να σ’ ανταμώσει
Μέσα σε μια φούχτα σκόνη θα σου δείξω το φόβο.

How Much Land Does a Man Need? by Leo Tolstoy



Leo Tolstoy by Mikhail Nesterov, 1906. Tolstoy was born on this day in 1828


How Much Land Does a Man Need?


An elder sister came to visit her younger sister in the country.
The elder was married to a tradesman in town, the younger to a
peasant in the village. As the sisters sat over their tea talking,
the elder began to boast of the advantages of town life: saying how
comfortably they lived there, how well they dressed, what fine
clothes her children wore, what good things they ate and drank, and
how she went to the theatre, promenades, and entertainments.

The younger sister was piqued, and in turn disparaged the life of a
tradesman, and stood up for that of a peasant.

«I would not change my way of life for yours,» said she. «We may
live roughly, but at least we are free from anxiety. You live in
better style than we do, but though you often earn more than you
need, you are very likely to lose all you have. You know the proverb,
‘Loss and gain are brothers twain.’ It often happens that people who
are wealthy one day are begging their bread the next. Our way is
safer. Though a peasant’s life is not a fat one, it is a long one.
We shall never grow rich, but we shall always have enough to eat.»

The elder sister said sneeringly:

«Enough? Yes, if you like to share with the pigs and the calves!
What do you know of elegance or manners! However much your good man
may slave, you will die as you are living-on a dung heap-and your
children the same.»

«Well, what of that?» replied the younger. «Of course our work is
rough and coarse. But, on the other hand, it is sure; and we need
not bow to any one. But you, in your towns, are surrounded by
temptations; today all may be right, but tomorrow the Evil One may
tempt your husband with cards, wine, or women, and all will go to
ruin. Don’t such things happen often enough?»

Pahom, the master of the house, was lying on the top of the oven,
and he listened to the women’s chatter.

«It is perfectly true,» thought he. «Busy as we are from childhood
tilling Mother Earth, we peasants have no time to let any nonsense
settle in our heads. Our only trouble is that we haven’t land
enough. If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!»

The women finished their tea, chatted a while about dress, and then
cleared away the tea-things and lay down to sleep.

But the Devil had been sitting behind the oven, and had heard all
that was said. He was pleased that the peasant’s wife had led her
husband into boasting, and that he had said that if he had plenty of
land he would not fear the Devil himself.

«All right,» thought the Devil. «We will have a tussle. I’ll give you
land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power.»

Continue reading:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 


On this day in 1901, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died at age 36

The Englishman (William Tom Warrener, 1861–1934) at the Moulin Rouge

William Tom Warrener, an English painter and friend of Lautrec’s, appears as a top-hatted gentleman chatting up two female companions at the Moulin Rouge, the dance hall that epitomized the colorful and tawdry nightlife of fin-de-siècle Paris. The women’s suggestive attitudes—and Warrener’s ear, reddened in embarrassment—indicate the risqué nature of their conversation. This painting served as a preparatory study for a color lithograph of 1892.

Ἀλεξάντερ Σολζενίτσιν (Александр Солженицын): Ἡ λίμνη Σεγκντέν



Ἡ λίμνη Σεγκντέν   (Озеро Сегден)


ΓΙΑ ΤΗ ΛΙΜΝΗ ΑΥΤΗ δὲν γρά­φουν οὔ­τε μι­λοῦν φω­να­χτά. Κι ὅ­λοι οἱ δρό­μοι ποὺ ὁ­δη­γοῦν σ’ αὐ­τὴν εἶ­ναι ἀ­πο­κλει­σμέ­νοι, σὰ νὰ ἐ­πρό­κει­το γιὰ κά­ποι­ο μα­γι­κὸ κά­στρο. Πά­νω ἀ­π’ ὅ­λους τοὺς δρό­μους κρέ­με­ται μιὰ ἀ­πα­γο­ρευ­τι­κὴ πι­να­κί­δα, μὲ μιὰ ἁ­πλή, βου­βὴ γραμ­μή. Ὁ ἄν­θρω­πος ἢ τὸ ἄ­γριο ζῶ­ο ποὺ θὰ δοῦν στὸν δρό­μο τους αὐ­τὴ τὴ γραμ­μὴ θὰ πρέ­πει νὰ τὸ στρί­βουν. Τού­τη τὴ γραμ­μὴ τὴν το­πο­θε­τεῖ ἐ­κεῖ ἡ ἐ­πί­γεια ἐ­ξου­σί­α. Ση­μαί­νει: ἀ­πα­γο­ρεύ­ε­ται τὸ τα­ξι­δεύ­ειν, ἀ­πα­γο­ρεύ­ε­ται τὸ ἵ­πτα­σθαι, ἀ­πα­γο­ρεύ­ε­ται τὸ βα­δί­ζειν καὶ ἀ­πα­γο­ρεύ­ε­ται τὸ ἕρ­πειν.

Δί­πλα στοὺς δρό­μους, μέ­σα στὸ πυ­κνὸ πευ­κο­δά­σος, ἐ­νε­δρεύ­ουν φρου­ροὶ μὲ κον­τό­κα­να, πλα­τύ­στο­μα του­φέ­κια καὶ πι­στό­λια.

Τρι­γυρ­νᾶς μέ­σα στὸ σι­ω­πη­λὸ δά­σος, ὁ­λο­έ­να τρι­γυρ­νᾶς καὶ γυ­ρεύ­εις τὸν τρό­πο νὰ φτά­σεις στὴ λί­μνη – δὲν θὰ τὸν βρεῖς, καὶ δὲν ὑ­πάρ­χει κα­νεὶς νὰ ρω­τή­σεις: ὁ κό­σμος τρό­μα­ξε, κα­νεὶς δὲν συ­χνά­ζει σ’ ἐ­κεῖ­νο τὸ δά­σος. Καὶ μο­να­χὰ παίρ­νον­τας στὸ κα­τό­πι τὸν ὑ­πό­κω­φο ἦ­χο ἀ­πὸ τὸ κου­δου­νά­κι μιᾶς ἀ­γε­λά­δας θὰ μπο­ρέ­σεις νὰ δι­α­σχί­σεις μὲ δυ­σκο­λί­α τὸ δά­σος, ἀ­κο­λου­θών­τας τὸ μο­νο­πά­τι τῶν ζώ­ων, μιὰ ὥ­ρα τοῦ με­ση­με­ριοῦ, κά­ποι­α βρο­χε­ρὴ ἡ­μέ­ρα. Μό­λις δεῖς τὴ λί­μνη νὰ γυ­α­λί­ζει, πε­λώ­ρια, ἀ­νά­με­σα στοὺς κορ­μοὺς τῶν δέν­δρων, πο­λὺ πρὶν τρέ­ξεις πρὸς τὸ μέ­ρος της, ἤ­δη τὸ γνω­ρί­ζεις: αὐ­τὴ τὴ γω­νί­τσα πά­νω στὴ γῆ θὰ τὴν ἀ­γα­πή­σεις γιὰ ὅ­λη σου τὴ ζω­ή.

Ἡ λί­μνη Σεγ­κντὲν εἶ­ναι στρογ­γυ­λή, σὰν νὰ χα­ρά­χτη­κε μὲ δι­α­βή­τη. Ἂν φω­νά­ξεις ἀ­πὸ τὴ μί­α ὄ­χθη (ὅ­μως δὲν θὰ φω­νά­ξεις, γιὰ νὰ μὴν σὲ πά­ρουν χαμ­πά­ρι), στὴν ἄλ­λη ὄ­χθη θὰ φτά­σει μό­νο μιὰ ἀλ­λοι­ω­μέ­νη ἠ­χώ. Ἡ λί­μνη βρί­σκε­ται μα­κριά. Εἶ­ναι πε­ρι­τρι­γυ­ρι­σμέ­νη ἀ­πὸ τὸ πα­ρό­χθιο δά­σος. Τὸ δά­σος εἶ­ναι ἐ­πί­πε­δο, τὸ ἕ­να δέν­τρο εἶ­ναι δί­πλα στὸ ἄλ­λο, καὶ δὲν ὑ­πάρ­χει χῶ­ρος οὔ­τε γιὰ ἕ­ναν πα­ρα­πα­νί­σιο κορ­μό. Ὅ­ταν φτά­σεις στὸ νε­ρό, βλέ­πεις ὅ­λη τὴν πε­ρι­φέ­ρεια τῆς ἀ­πο­μο­νω­μέ­νης ὄ­χθης: ἀλ­λοῦ ὑ­πάρ­χει μιὰ κί­τρι­νη λω­ρί­δα ἄμ­μου, κά­που ἕ­να γκρί­ζο κα­λα­μά­κι προ­βάλ­λει ἀ­μυ­νό­με­νο, κά­που ἀλ­λοῦ ἁ­πλώ­νε­ται τὸ νε­α­ρὸ γρα­σί­δι. Τὸ νε­ρὸ εἶ­ναι ἐ­πί­πε­δο, λεῖ­ο, δί­χως ρυ­τί­δες, κά­που-κά­που στὴν ὄ­χθη εἶ­ναι κα­λυμ­μέ­νο μὲ νε­ρο­φα­κές, κι ἔ­πει­τα ἕ­να δι­ά­φα­νο ἄ­σπρο – κι ὁ ἄ­σπρος βυ­θός.

Πε­ρί­κλει­στο τὸ νε­ρό. Πε­ρί­κλει­στο καὶ τὸ δά­σος. Ἡ λί­μνη κοι­τά­ει τὸν οὐ­ρα­νό, ὁ οὐ­ρα­νὸς τὴ λί­μνη. Ἀ­κό­μα κι ἂν κά­τι ὑ­πάρ­χει στὴ γῆ ἢ πά­νω ἀ­πὸ τὸ δά­σος, αὐ­τὸ πα­ρα­μέ­νει ἄ­γνω­στο κι ἀ­ό­ρα­το. Ἀ­κό­μα κι ἂν κά­τι ὑ­πάρ­χει, ἐ­δῶ εἶ­ναι ἄ­χρη­στο καὶ πε­ριτ­τό.

Νὰ μπο­ροῦ­σε κα­νεὶς νὰ ἐγ­κα­τα­στα­θεῖ ἐ­δῶ γιὰ πάν­τα… Ἐ­δῶ ἡ ψυ­χή, σὰν τὸν ἀ­έ­ρα ποὺ τρε­μί­ζει, θὰ ρυ­ά­κι­ζε ἀ­νά­με­σα στὸ νε­ρὸ καὶ στὸν οὐ­ρα­νό, κι οἱ σκέ­ψεις θὰ κυ­λοῦ­σαν κα­θά­ρι­ες καὶ βα­θει­ές.

Ὅ­μως ἀ­πα­γο­ρεύ­ε­ται. Ὁ θη­ρι­ώ­δης πρίγ­κι­πας, ὁ ἀλ­λή­θω­ρος κα­κοῦρ­γος, κα­τέ­λα­βε μὲ τὴ βί­α τὴ λί­μνη: νά ἡ ντά­τσα του, νά καὶ τὸ μέ­ρος ὅ­που κο­λυμ­πά­ει. Τὰ παι­διά του ψα­ρεύ­ουν καὶ πυ­ρο­βο­λοῦν πά­πι­ες μέ­σα ἀ­πὸ τὴ βάρ­κα. Στὴν ἀρ­χὴ ἐμ­φα­νί­ζε­ται λί­γος γα­λά­ζιος κα­πνὸς πά­νω ἀ­πὸ τὴ λί­μνη, κι ἔ­πει­τα ἀ­πὸ λί­γο ἀ­κοῦς τὴν του­φε­κιά.

Ἐ­κεῖ, πί­σω ἀ­πὸ τὰ δά­ση, καμ­που­ριά­ζει καὶ σέρ­νε­ται ὅ­λη ἡ γύ­ρω πε­ρι­ο­χή. Ἐ­νῶ ἐ­δῶ, γιὰ νὰ μὴν τοὺς ἐ­νο­χλή­σει κα­νείς, οἱ δρό­μοι εἶ­ναι κλει­στοί, ἐ­δῶ οἱ ὑ­πο­τα­κτι­κοί τους ψα­ρεύ­ουν καὶ κυ­νη­γοῦν τὰ θη­ρά­μα­τα ἀ­πο­κλει­στι­κὰ γι’ αὐ­τούς. Ἰ­δοὺ καὶ τὰ ἴ­χνη: κά­ποι­ος ἑ­τοί­μα­ζε φω­τιά, κι αὐ­τοὶ τὴν ἔ­σβη­σαν μὲ τὴν πρώ­τη καὶ τὸν ἔ­δι­ω­ξαν.

Ἔ­ρη­μη λί­μνη. Λί­μνη ἀ­γα­πη­μέ­νη.


The Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L’Estaque by Paul Cézanne 


Cézanne enthused about the fishing village of L’Estaque to Pissarro in 1876: «It is like a playing card. Red roofs over the blue sea. . . . The sun is so terrific here that it seems to me as if the objects were silhouetted not only in black and white, but in blue, red, brown, and violet.» Cézanne painted some twenty views of L’Estaque over the next decade, a dozen of them facing toward or across the gulf of Marseilles. In the distance of this painting, atop the hill to the right of the jetty, the towers of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde stand watch over the city of Marseilles.