This representative selection from the work of one of modern Greece's most fascinating poets was made shortly after his award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1979. It is drawn from all periods of his distinguished career and traces his development from early surrealism, in which he transforms French influence into a distinct personal voice and mythology, through the dramatic style of "The Axion Esti" with its blend of spirituality and earthiness, up to the later work in which he experiments with new modes for expressing his perennial themes. The poems are chosen, introduced and mainly translated by the leading translators of modern Greek poetry, Edmund Keeley and the late Philip Sherrard, whose collaborations also included translations of Seferis, Cavafy and Sikelianos. Other contributors to the book include George Savidis, Nanos Valaoritis and John Stathatos.
Born in Crete in 1911, Odysseus Elytis began to publish his poetry in the 1930s. He took part in the campaign against the Italian fascists in Albania in 1940-41. He was one of the most prominent poets of the Greek resistance during the Nazi occupation. The Nobel Prize was awarded to him 'for his poetry which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness'. He died in Athens in 1996.