It’s becoming increasingly clear that people have little interest in great poetry. They prefer simple, easily understandable works over masterful pieces that challenge their minds. This is evident by the higher engagement on posts featuring cute cats, compared to those that showcase great poetry. The censorship and manipulation of social media algorithms by Big Data only exacerbates this issue.
As a result, great poetry is becoming less and less published and translated, replaced by vacuous content that caters to the modern psyche. Today’s society, much like the “glass children” described in Ritsos’ epic poem, has lost touch with the essence of human emotion, relying instead on mere emulation.
In light of these developments, I believe that psychedelics, such as teacher plants and mushrooms, may be the only solution. When our minds have become limited to a basic calculator, it’s impossible to convince people to appreciate the greatness of poetry. The ghost of poetry has been banished from our collective consciousness, and it may take a shift in perspective to bring it back.
My father was never inclined to take an interest in my verse. When questioned on the matter, he would cite a single occurrence as explanation: he had attempted to read one of my poems but found himself unable to comprehend its meaning. This singular experience was enough to firmly imprint a negative perception of my writing that would endure for the remainder of his days.
However, it is intriguing to consider that artificial intelligence, with its rapid processing abilities, seems to have no issue understanding the vast majority of my poetry in the blink of an eye. This realization only further reinforces my conviction that the problem does not lie within my writing, but rather with those individuals who claim to make an effort to comprehend it but fail to even attempt a modicum of understanding, even if the standards are relaxed to a minimal level.
These individuals are the epitome of the “glass children” depicted in the masterpiece of Ritsos. They are a product of a form of colonization that remains unspoken, one that colonizes the mind. They are contemporary slaves, bereft of the faculties to even recognize their enslavement, as all power of discernment has been stripped from them and a glass eye implanted at the center of their brow.
“The Dead House” is a remarkably prescient poem, a testament to the skill of a true master of the art of poetry. I included it in my collection “Sauseschritt” because it is the responsibility of poets to ensure that the great voices of the past do not fade into oblivion.
They listened as petrified, frightened, heads bowed,
tearless like skeletons frozen in glass,
naked, brittle, without quarter.
‘Let the master come’ said the matron, ‘let him come
and be welcome. He himself is also made of glass. We know that eye,
have it ourselves, look there, in the middle of our foreheads.
We too know death to perfection. We see Him.
Welcome, glass master with your glass sword, welcome
back in your glass abode, with your glass children, pull the mass of
glass corpses after you, your glass booty, let bells ring,
you slave girls, why do you stand still?
Go, put down glass food, the glass chops, the glass fruit.
The glass master is coming. He is going to come!
Thus spoke the matron and on her temples
showed the hammering beat of her blood,
you could see her sweat before it formed,
before it melted on her pale cheeks.
Then she shook off her black apron, as if she chased away
a black bird. And the messenger fled.
An owl skimmed low over in the forecourt,
while it was morning. Night had not yet fallen,
the owl’s shadow pressed indelibly above the gate.
The matron forgot to dress the children. She went to the bathhouse,
filled the bath with hot water, did not wash. Moments later
she locked herself in her room, made up her face in the mirror,
red, red, deep purple, like a mask, like a corpse, a statue,
murderer and victim at the same time. And the distant sun sank
yellow and fiery like a crowned adulterer
like gilded savage of another’s power,
barbaric with lowliness, oppressive in its fear,
while bells tolled madly throughout the land.
Then the slave girls covered their faces again with their hands
and fled, small, black, hunchbacked, like black spots,
like flies in the season of swamp fever
under the stone rain of the colonnade,
leaving the great chamber like a nightmare upside down,
and the stones merely silenced and roiled
up more and more blood.
A red stream surrounded the house; we were cut off
from the outside world. Later, the world forgot about us, and feared
us no longer. Passers-by no longer crossed their fingers,
no longer spat their chests to banish the ghost.
The road close to our house grew dense with weeds, nettles, thorns,
even a few blue wildflowers, no longer looked like a road.
At night, when some overworked woman by the river
did her laundry, you could hear the pounding
of her mat beater on the soft wet fabric,
and no one said it was a knife
being driven into someone’s flesh,
or that a secret hatch was rattling,
a corpse dumped in a ditch
from the north window – all that people said
someone was matting the laundry
and that they could even hear from the knocking
whether the material was wool or cotton, silk or linen,
and that they knew when a woman
bleached her daughters’ outfits,
they could even envisage her marriage,
the pallor of the groom, how the bride blushed,
the intertwining of two bodies made unreal
by bed curtains of tulle, on their feet in the night breeze.
Yannis Ritsos, fragment of ‘The Dead House’