[ A young poet paid me a call ]Notes on poetics and ethics
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A young poet paid me a call. He was very poor, sustaining himself from his literary work, and it seemed to me he was somewhat sad to see the fine house where I lived, my servant who served him some fine tea, my clothes which were made by a fine tailor. He said, «What a horrible thing it is to struggle to make ends meet, to try to drum up subscribers for your magazine and buyers for your book».
            I did not wish to leave him in the dark, and I told him a few things, more or less the following: Your predicament is unpleasant and burdensome – but how dearly I pay for my small luxuries. In order to obtain them, I diverged from my natural course and became a government servant (how ridiculous), where I spend and lose so many valuable hours during the day (to which one should add the ensuing hours of fatigue and tedium). What a waste, what a waste, what betrayal.  While poor he never loses a single hour; he is always on call, a faithful and dedicated child of Art.
            How many times during the workday a splendid idea comes to me, a rare impression, like ready-made and unprecipitated verse, and I am forced to disregard them, because civil service cannot be postponed. Then when I get back home, and collect myself a bit, I try to recall them, but they’re gone. And rightly so. It seems as if Art is telling me, «I am not a servant for you to order me away when I come, and to come when you call me. I am the grandest Lady in the world. And if you spurned me – you lowly traitor – for your wretched fine house, your wretched fine clothes, and your wretched good social standing, then content yourself with those (as if!) and with the few times when I call on you and you are ready to receive me, standing at your doorway, waiting for me, as you should be every single day».

June 1905

Translated by Manuel Savidis


- Original Greek Text