On this day in 1913 the Greek diplomat and poet Georgios Seferiades was born. Using the pen name George Seferis, he wrote many beautiful verses that show the influence of the ancient Greeks such as Homer and Euripides as well as modern poets such as Eliot and Pound.
A diplomat, he was ambassador to Britain in the late fifties and worked hard to achieve a solution to the fighting between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus, an island that he particularly loved. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1963.
This poem, Song to Celia by Ben Johnson, harks back to the works of the Roman poet Catullus with whom Seferiades would have been familiar:
Drink to me, only, with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kisse but in the cup,
And Ile not look for wine.
The thirst, that from the soule doth rise,
Doth aske a drink divine:
But might I of Jove’s Nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee, late, a rosie wreath,
Not so much honoring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon did’st onely breathe,
And sent’st it back to mee:
Since when it growes, and smells, I sweare,
Not of it selfe, but thee.
Today I ask that I will learn to share myself, my qualities and my failings, with my family and friends.