«Two Nobel Prize winners and an island»

July 31st, 1930. The visit of Giorgos Seferis to the island of
Skiathos shows him the beauty, simplicity, calmness and peace
that the island emanates, which rub off on the writer’s soul
in a uniquely effortless way. The scenery, the olive and pine
trees, the mountains and vales, the paths and small churches,
the seashore and the sea in particular leave an indelible mark
on the poet’s memory and are graphically and vividly recorded
in his “A Poet’s Journal: Days A’”.

He is impressed by and notes the simple inscription in
“Platania”, the spring of Profitis Ilias and he is touched by
the song of a muleteer. However, what made the biggest
impression on him, moved him deeply and brought him
that much emotionally closer to Skiathos was a man, Sotiris
Stamelos or Tzaxilas. Meeting this old and poor guy who
played the violin, narrated stories and was full of love was
such a revelation for Seferis as to say: “I cannot picture people
like that in any other place in the world”.
«Two Nobel Prize winners and an island»

Seferis’ trip to Skiathos enchanted him, with the island and its people generously and lovingly offering theirs gifts to the poet. After returning to Athens to continue his “orderly, faithless and passionless” life in the office, he nostalgically looks “back on the island from time to time…”

1977. Odysseas Elytis, the “poet of the Aegean”, was that inspired by the natural beauty of Skiathos that he created a collage with distinctive landscapes of the island. The transfiguration of the word of Elytis to an image resulted in “Optasia” (Vision - Mirage), where the star is the hard” island landscape “hugging” the “soft” infinite blue of the sea while the semi-transparent, aery, “emerging” female figure gazes far off calmly and proudly. Koukounaries (the beach, pine forest and lake of Strofylia) and Lalaria also have a prominent place there. Furthermore, in another collage by Elytis, entitled “I Mystiki Floga” (Secret Flame), Bourtzi, the distinct peninsula of Skiathos can clearly be spotted.

According to the poet Haris Vlavianos, “Elytis created a universe of magical relations, analogies and metaphors at the centre of which he “conducts” a new type of relationship-encounter between man and greek landscape. An encounter of unprecedented beauty but at the same time a difficult and daring venture”, maybe following on the poetic steps of Alexandros Papadiamantis. The Praiser of the Aegean on one hand and the Praiser of Skiathos on the other. “The magic of Papadiamantis” and his world, make Elytis muse and wonder “how these roughly 60 square kilometres with three thousand souls came to have the importance of an entire continent”.

What fascinates Elytis about the verdant Aegean Island is both the natural environment and its people who harmoniously “bond” with it through a relationship of interdependence and interreflection.

The capture of the Greek landscape by Elytis is hopeful, optimistic and vivified. “His” Aegean is full of light, open and happy, a “miracle” place where magical things happen. When the poet found himself in the Blue Cave of Skiathos, he described his experience in a uniquely sensual way.

It’s your island and your choices, to tour and to meet people like Seferis’ Sotiris and to be creatively inspired to design your own collage-vision like Elytis.

By Mr. Tzavalias (Principal of Skiathos High School), based on a concept of Thodoris Tzoumas, Mayor of Skiathos