Poets of the inter-war period

The poetic climate of the decade 1920-1930 is characterized by a general mood of defeatism. Poets such as Mitsos Papanikolaou, Napoleon Lapathiotis, Maria Polidouri and particularly Kostas Karyotakis expressed through their verse a state of suffocating impasse. This crisis, associated with the past of Athenian Romanticism, made its reappearance with the help of Symbolism and was further intensified by the context of political and social crisis. It is characteristic that the poet who is considered to most fully epitomize the tragedy of his generation, Kostas Karyotakis, crowned his work with a bullet; he killed himself at Preveza in 1928.

The new poetry that appeared on the eve of the 1930s is defined to a large extent by the legacy of late Symbolism and Karyotakism of the previous period. At the same time, however, the poetry of Kavafis was gaining more and more ground through its range of effects, while great figures such as Kostis Palamas continued to stir emotions with their output. Poets such as Nikos Kazantzakis, Angelos Sikelianos and Kostas Varnalis made a great impact. Giorgos Seferis appeared in this period with the collection Strophi (1931), which is considered by many to be a turning point in Greek poetry. Making the most of the concepts of Symbolisn, but also of the influence of T.S. Eliot, Seferis articulatd a new poetic idiom that matured in the post-war period. Another important poet is Yannis Ritsos who appeared with the anthology Trakter (1934). Ritsos, who had been a life-long member of the Greek Communist Party,
followed in the footsteps of Varnalis and Karyotakis, but also reflected the legacy of Kostis Palamas. In May 1936, after the violent suppression of the labour demonstrations in Thessaloniki, he wrote his Epitaphios to express the pain and protest of a whole people. Others appearing for the first time, such as Takis Papatsonis, Nikolaos Kalas, Yorgos Sarantaris, Yorgos Vafopoulos, Nikiphoros Vrettakos and, a little later Nikos Kavadias, Andreas Embeirikos, Nikos Engonopoulos and Oddyseus Elytis, were gradually steered in new directions and reoriented the Greek poetic world. The prevalence of free verse, a feature of this renewal, was consolidated in the later works of most and was further enriched by the adoption of the teachings both of the Greek poetic tradition and the artistic production of Europe.