By Paul Campanis
It is easy to get emotional. Greeks can claim reason as a guide, but
are always overcome by our more emotional needs and weaknesses, a kind of
It is a pretty July morning, a Sunday, and I need water the flowers
today. A master, another one...it could as easily have been Kavafi or
Seferi, looks at me and admonishes. I am always admonished and given scant
To dromo prepei na broume to dromo. The road, we gutta find the road.
Kathe stigmei na ksanavriskome to thromo. Every second we need find the
Kathe stigmei argoporias einai thanatos. Every second's delay is death.
Y ystoria mas kinthynaivei na sapisi. Our history, our story goes to
Y hora mas, o laos mas, kinthynaivei na sapisi. Our land, our nation is
endangered to rot.
K' eimeis, m' oles mas tis atheinamies, And we with all our weaknesses,
Y mony elpitha sotyrias. The only hope of salvation.
Patrikios is just one of the best. Very simple to me. He lives just
under my skin and he harrasses me constantly to do my job. As a Greek of a
strange place. You see that in us all the time. You want to go on and be
free and an American but a line of verse comes out of the ether to bother
you, like a little mosquito that carries its sting lighly. But can do you
damage and make you itch.
No relief. No relief in sight. Another day in the trenches of
Greekness, our way, our path. Ti einai afto to mysterio? What is this
mystery? A friend from Mason City, Iowa, where he grew up, is doing a
history of the Greeks of Mason City, Iowa, and it will be beautiful to read.
I guess it is just fun really. A way to connect to the universe and
the stars. To be Greek is grand, it seems. A badge, a carnation, a
garoufalo, it seems. To have and to talk about, and to dwell on.
Anyway I gottou go to work and go to the dump and water flower people
and shop and do this and that.
Yesterday I read about the fine playwright, August Wilson, of the
African-American omatha, group, and he was talking about giving his people
voice with his many fine plays. He is a difficult man, his wife says, but
he is possessed by the dead ancestors, as he claims. His and mine just
clammer and holler and give little respite. So it is. Please see the
lovely article on Wilson, a total love of a person, in a recent New Yorker
magazine. Page 50 by Lahr, April 16,2001. I just went and found the
article so you would look at it and appreciate the momentous achievement of
So Titos Patrikios talks from the pages of the Greek journal, the
Charioteer, and I am so glad to know him here in my wilderness.
But he dares say something that applies, it seems to me at least, to
Nisiro, as I think on the matter.
Ki aftos of vrahos einai topos mas. And this rock is our place, our
Ki etoutes oi agriosykies. And these very same wild figs
einai patritha mou. are my country, place, land.
Sound familiar? I guess. But that is not what I wanted to write about.
My biggest problem comes with the following line of Patrikios from the poem,
Allegory, about a fallen oak and all the theories about why it fell. His
line that fills me all the time is this one.
To provlyma tou nerou paramenoi anyhto. The problem of the water
You see the tree fell and we have theories but without the water the
whole issue would never have arisen. So we curious and desperate humans
fret over the water. Where it comes from and where it is going. Did God
make it or a goddess? Is it really enough to make a tree grow? Well, it
seems so. I live on a well and am dependent on the water. My town has to
be careful of water use and so do all the towns nearby. What is water? Who
even thinks about water in a place where you turn on a faucet? Patrikios of
the parched land does. Nisiro hasn't much water and has to be careful. We
all know that water is precious and must be cared about. And it is just a
line from Patrikios that reminds us of the mystery of water.
At another level it is a question of where does art come from.
Where did Wayne Thiebaud, American artist, get his genius from? Or August
Wilson? Where do my words and poems come from? The source is where the
water is, where creation resides. To make a great tree grow, or fashion a
painting, or it is a line of a play Wilson is toiling over.