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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Last Time I Heard the Zournas, Live



Christopher King sent me a fascinating link - Confessions of the last zournas-player in northern Greece

The last time I heard a zournas played live was in Thessaloniki's popular market, Christmas 1983.

Here's an extract from my poem "Na ta poume?", from Corfu Blues (the book), about a battle between some Roma zournas-players and a refugee barrel-organ player from Constantinople ("The City" -Istanbul):

"The old refugee, long since retired,
Like the listening butcher, the backgammon players,
Still inhabits The City, still walks its streets,
Only stops staring into the middle distance,
Lets hand stop winding laterna handle,
When groups of young Thracian gypsies,
Magpie musicians, faster on their feet,
Always eager to steal a trick,
Sneak round in front, beat him to the best-filled shops,
Playing shrill shawms and beating drums, laughing
As they overtake him
To an audience with coins to throw...
The shawm-players may make much more noise,
Pied-pipers with their wooden oboes piercing through the din
Of the market-dealers' Christmas cries:
But they can't negotiate all the notes
Of  "Kalyn imeran archontes" .
They have not walked his Calvary,
The Calvary of the Great Idea.


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