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Monday, 24 January 2011

Osbert Lancaster, On Not Going to Greece, Easter 1968

Easter 1968; I was in Greece. I remember it well.



 I remember cutting out this poem by Osbert Lancaster, from a copy of The Sunday Times, I think.


The paste made it illegible in places. So here's a clearer version:

ON NOT GOING TO GREECE,
EASTER 1968.

The mike behind the architrave
Consolidates Athene's loss
And Agamemnon's mask must save
The face of Colonel Pattakos.


Of no avail to ask just now
The barman at the Grande Bretagne
For news of friend, or why and how...
His lips are sealed, and so are mine.

The Pythian rocks are slogan-scrawled,
"The army's backing Greece and so
Must you!" The guides are too enthralled
To hear the Sibyl answer "No!"

                   But I would not care
To greet my Lord in Constitution Square.

Osbert Lancaster


Roy Fuller wrote an autumnal poem on the topic of the Junta, during that period:


"TO A FRIEND LEAVING FOR GREECE".

From the Tin Islands' autumn where the foliage hangs
In green and yellow tatters like an old
Set on a provincial stage, you go
To burgundy seas, white harbours, empty skies-
Greece...


The last stanza:


You visit a country where the unclean being
Who brought disaster has already been expelled,
And far back in its history the gloomy date:
'Twenty-eighth year of the War. Blockade of Athens'.
Will you return with hopeful messages
For the new victims of the Theban king
And of the destroyers of democracy?


Listen to George Seferis breaking his silence and making his statement on the Junta in 1969, on the BBC's Greek Service (fourth item down on right)

A satirical song, Martial Law

There's even a blog on Britain and the Colonels

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