Historical story

Miltos Shaktouris:The poet who embroidered the dreams and nightmares of a country

On this day, March 29, 2005, one of the greatest poets that our country produced.

"Nothing touches the poet, not even time. Because he has within him the childish, the old and the demonic at the same time" said Miltos Shaktouris describing poetry.

"Miltos Sakhtouris is not of this world or the other. He is a visitor. Only his mother knows that it was not a birth but a visit," George Kakoulidis wrote in Rizospastis on 11/1/2004.

The poet was born in 1919 in Athens and was originally from Hydra, being the great-grandson of the admiral of 1821, Giorgis Shaktouri.

In 1937 he began studying law at the Athens School of Law, but left it in 1940 to devote himself to literature. He participated in the National Resistance with EAM, while his first literary appearance was in 1944, with the publication of his poems in the magazine "Elefthera Grammata". It was preceded by the meeting with Nikos Eggonopoulos, who defined its creation. Although influenced by surrealism, he developed a distinctly personal voice. He was a close friend of Engonopoulos and also of Elytis. After the urging of Elytis, it appeared in 1944 in the magazine Ta Nea Grammata.

In 1945, his first poetry collection "The Forgotten" was published. The second collection titled "Paralogais" was published in 1948 and was followed by:"With my face on the wall" (1952), "When I talk to you" (1956), "The specters or joy on the other road" (1958), "The walk" (1960), "Ta stigmata" (1962), "Seal or the Eighth Moon" (1964), "The vessel" (1971), a consolidated edition of his collections up to 1971, "Poems 1945-1971" ( 1977), "Color Traumas" (1980), "Ectoplasms" (1986), "Since then" (1996), "Voice from the other shore" (1997), "The clocks turned upside down" (1998).

In 1956 he won the first prize in an international competition of young poets organized by the Italian Radio (RAI), in 1962 he won the 2nd State Prize for Poetry in Greece, in 1987 he won the 1st State Prize for "Ektoplasma". In 2003 he received the grand literary prize for his entire body of work, while he translated Brecht and Kafka, among others. His scholars recorded that through his work he captured the echo of the anxiety of an entire era, of a country that was struggling to redefine itself and exorcise its nightmares.

As the writer Elpidophoros Indzebelis notes, in Shaktouri's poetry the dominant elements are allegories, myths and enigmatic symbols, while pessimism, the feeling of historical defeat and the harsh experiences of the Occupation and the Civil War make up the world of the poet.

His works have been translated into French, English, Italian, German, Polish and Bulgarian. His poems have been set to music by Manos Hadjidakis, Argyris Kounadis, Yiannis Spanos, Kyriakos Sfetsa and Nikos Xydakis. He died in Athens, in 2005, in the area of ​​America Square in Kypseli, where he lived for decades at 14 Mithymnis Street, in a small two-bedroom apartment.

Below we list five of his poems that echo just a little of the timeless verbal greatness of Miltos Shaktouris.

The carnations

These bloody carnations

where they decorate my office

they remind me of the blood I used to draw

in my youth

when others were fighting

and others were partying

in the accursed country.

I lived nearby

memory of Giorgos Makris

I lived near the living people

and I loved living people

but my heart was closer

to the wild sick with wings

to the great unlimited madmen

and even to the wonderfully dead

My brothers

My brothers who were lost down here in the world

they are the stars that now light up one by one in the sky

and yes the eldest

with a spring black tie

where he got lost in god-awful caves

as he rolled around playing

on red winds


in the wild beast's bloody mouth

Then my other brother who was burned

He was selling yellow sparklers

He sold and lit yellow flares

- When we light - he said - fire

we will drive the ghosts out of the gardens

ghosts will stop polluting the gardens

- When we light - he said - yellow sparklers

one day the sky will light up blue

and then the third, the smallest

who said he was a bat

that's why he loved the moons

and the moons one night saved him

they stuck around and shut him down

They stuck around and suffocated him

the moons melted around him

My brothers who were lost down here in the world

they are the stars that now light up one by one in the sky


When the rusty door opened like a curtain


like a rotten ship in a bad harbor

showed the girl's laughing face

within the aroma of fire and smoke

her voice

like a dark cinema hall

showed laughing

and ἐὼ

a shirt in the air in the mess


he was getting ready to fly

the girl

a living flower

one flower lit

a beautiful monster

upside-down mouth

the eyes

the eyebrows

a beautiful monster

where it was hitting

like a magic clock

this magical evening

finally proceed

the night

the girl broke into the mirror


appeared again


my face

her face


wild blooded

like a cinema

The gifts

Today I wore one

hot red blood

today people love me

a woman smiled at me

a girl gave me a shell

a child gave me a hammer

Today I kneel on the pavement

nailing on the plates

the bare feet of passers-by

they are all in tears

but no one is scared

everyone stayed in the positions I reached

they are all in tears

but they look at the heavenly advertisements

and a beggar who sells buns

in the sky

Two people are whispering

what makes our heart skip a beat?

yes it pierces our heart

so he is a poet

You can read more poems by Miltos Shaktouris here.

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