CULTURE

Maro Douka

«I am moved as I leaf through the 14th volume of his poems. Yiannis Ritsos, the poet who distilled the 20th century, respectful in humble matters, open-hearted in difficult times. «Every person has as many personalities as there are people who knew and loved them. After so many years, what did I get from my encounters with Ritsos? That he was a courteous, gentle person. Forgiving. Though many had scoffed at him and upset him, I never heard him speak ill of anyone. On the contrary, he often annoyed me with his insistence on finding excuses for others. «Unrepentantly devoted to the Communist Party, and a tenacious seeker of the essence of life and poetry. «He advised me not to give in to complacency or insecurity. To distinguish between the beauty of a ruined landscape and the beauty of a sown field. To know what I want but always to question – without blinkers, brackets or limitations. And it is precisely this tolerance – beyond schools and trends and ideology – that I would like to emphasize. The marvelous way in which he distinguished art from imitation, the substantial from the insubstantial, truth from appearance, the genuine from the artificial.»