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The Flowers of Peloponnesos – A Photo Essay

October 11, 2013
By

On returning from Greece - Autumn 2013

DSC_0918On returning from Greece’s Peloponnesian Peninsula, what I will remember most vividly is the sense of antiquity and right beside that memory I will place the ageless beauty of the flowers of Peloponnesos.

They grow everywhere in the craggy ruins of Mycenae or Epidavros or Mystra or Monemvasia. They even grow miraculously in the rocky Deep Mani far to the south where villages hide in the hills and people once lived in fortress-like towers.

These are flowers that perhaps should not grow, should not be able to find the water to flourish in such a rock-ridden place. And yet they do grow and flourish to beautify the world.

I was inspired by the landscape, the ancient ruins, the history, and by the flowers, or course, but also by the poetry of Yannis Ritsos, one of the great poets of the twentieth century. He is Greece’s Pablo Neruda, a man of conscience, of the left, of the Pelopponese.

To him, Patrick Leigh Fermor and, as always, to Leola I dedicate my poem “Deep Mani.”

Deep Mani

Rock everywhere.

Rounded mountains of it

Covered in the dry dirt

Of ageless time.

 

Rattler country

If there could be rattlers

Here in this ancient place

This dead-like land.

 

A wild cyclamen pops up,

It’s tiny pink head

Peeking into the sunlight

From the crevices of history.

 

Like its people

The land hides them

High up and safe

Away from pirates and kings.

 

It should not be here,

Should not survive here

In the sun-baked hills

Of the Deep Mani.

 

And yet it does live here

Even flourishes, as always,

Amidst the rocks and rubble

Of bygone Byzantine times.

 

Joining the cyclamens:

Cascades of geraniums,

Bursts of bougainvillea,

Blossoms of a thousand flowers.

 

After all History’s death,

Wars of old and forever,

The flowers bloom again,

Bringing beauty and hope.

 

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