Mythistorema – What Seek our Souls?

Greek Painting -- what is it that our souls are looking for

Mythistorema – What Seek our Souls?, Aydin Hayri, 2014. Acrylic, glass pane, paper, wire mesh on plywood, 30” × 55

This piece was inspired by the 8th section of Yorgo Seferis’s epic poem Mythistorema. Below is the English translation of that section of the poem by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard:


What are they after, our souls, traveling on the decks of decayed ships

crowded in with sallow women and crying babies

unable to forget themselves either with the flying fish

or with the stars that the masts point our at their tips;

grated by gramophone records, committed to non-existent pilgrimages unwillingly,

murmuring broken thoughts from foreign languages.


What are they after, our souls, traveling on rotten brine-soaked timbers

from harbor to harbor?


Shifting broken stones, breathing in the pines’ coolness with greater difficulty each day,

swimming in the waters of this sea and of that sea,

without the sense of touch without men in a country that is no longer ours nor yours.


We knew that the islands were beautiful somewhere round about here where we grope,

slightly lower down or slightly higher up, a tiny space.

I have been carrying this poem’s implacable sense of melancholic quest in my soul since I left my parents’ home for boarding school at age 14. It was a bit of relief to give it a physical form.



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