Easter of the Greeks

«Symphony of the Spring» by the celebrated Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos (1909-90) appears to have been written specifically for these difficult times in which we live, as it calls on us to stop for a moment and listen to the pealing of distant church bells coming from the »whitewashed courtyards» of Easter Sunday. Ritsos’s poem is evocative of the depths of this country’s age-old history. It invites us to relive the Edens of our childhood and make them a part of our present. It opens wide a window to hope, a window to inner peace. In the troubled times in which we live, we are all in dire need of poetry, even though we may not be aware of its absence. We need to feel the profound timelessness conjured up by Ritsos’s verse as we head back to the places of our birth, to our villages deep in the countryside, as we fix our gaze on the sky, trees and wildflowers, and as we once again smell the fresh earth, leaving behind the city, the financial crisis, our despondency and an uncertain present. In April’s verdant bosom – whether it be a lush forest, a small garden or a humble yard – in the company of family and loved ones, we can indeed put the trials and tribulations of the present behind us and look forward to the future with some degree of optimism. Put simply, Easter serves as the moral compass of the Greeks. We congregate at toll booths and ports, at airports and railway stations. We sail, we fly, we head en masse and individually toward a joyful future, emerging from the hell of reality toward the festive light, toward our eternal pledge to celebrate Easter in true Greek fashion, on hilltops and islets, on riverbanks and in village squares, in Brussels, Sydney, Skiathos and New York.

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