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Sotiris Sorogas





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Lardas Konstantinos

The Mourning Songs of Greek Women
(Translated by him)

From: "The Charioteer", number 35, 1993-1994.


These songs from my collection of the Mourning Songs of Greek Women are all anonymously made. They were first collected by Claude Fauriel in his Chants Populaires de la Grece Moderne in Paris 1824, but since then countless collections have appeared in Greece and throughout Europe. Many of these songs can be traced back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but the majority of this work was composed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were sung throughout: the Greek world, including the far-flung motherlands that were contained in Anatolia until the exodus of the Greeks in 1922 and in the remote Greek-speaking villages in Sicily and Russia.

I began translating these songs when I was given a copy of Kosta Pasayianis's Maniatika Moirologia kai Tragoudia (Athens, 1928) by the poet Nikos Gatsos when I was in Greece in 1962 on a Fulbright Student Grant. Slowly, through the years, I continued this work, and when in 1982 I returned to Athens on a Fulbright Research Grant, I was able to work at the National Research Folklore Centre at Odos Singrou, where I gathered and translated some two thousand such songs.

In my translations of the Greek texts of these songs, I have not tried to rhyme them as they are often rhymed in Greek, nor have I been constrained to hold on the "forms" of the songs as they are made now in the Greek, but I have heard, and I have understood, and I have felt the anguish of such grieving women, and I think that I have made true English poems from their Greek songs.

Translator's note: Of the two numbers at the end of each song, the first refers to the book from which the Greek text was taken and the second (after the hyphen) refers to the page number, except for book No. 2 where it refers to the poem number.

The book references are to:

2. Nikos Politis, Τραγούδια του Ελληνικού Λαού [Tragoudia tou Ellinikou Laou], 1966.

3. M. Peranthis, Ποιητική Ανθολογία [Poiitiki Anthologia), 1453-1900, Vol. 3, 1954.

4. M. Avgeris, Νέοι Χρόνοι [Neoi Chronoi], Vol. 2, 1959.

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