Poet Of the Sea

Nikos Kavvadias was born in Manchuria in 1910 of Cephalonian parents. He grew up in Pireas and from a very early age succumbed to the call of the sea. AT the age of 20 he boarded a ship as a seaman and by 1939 he had completed his diploma as a radio operator.

The long voyages on cargo ships provided him with the opportunity to travel far, enrich his knowledge and helped him to avoid becoming what he described as " an undeserving lover of long voyages and blue horizons" . From this point on the seaman Kavvadias begins to express through poetry his experiences at sea. His "Marabu" collection, published in 1933, established him as the poet of the sea and became a source of inspiration for many artists.

The collection's main themes were the seaman, nostalgia, life, death, women. His main character is the seaman who confronts his fate at every port and storm and tries to overcome the misery in his life through the confrontation. His second collection. "Pousi" was published in 1947 and featured the same themes and cast of characters. However, the poet's maturity was evident by then and his rich experiences provided the base for a more global appeal to the collection.

In 1954 he published the book "Vardia" which established him as a storyteller as well. The book was much more than just a collection of travel experiences. The poet of the sea comes through the lines as an authentic Cephalonian.

The language used, the characters, even the curses, were an undoubtable depiction of the island and the special and often strange characteristics of its inhabitants His third poetry collection, "Trasverso", was published in 1975, shortly after his death.

By this time, Kavvadias was known as "Marabu". In this collection he comes across as an experienced traveller, mature in his expression, but still warm and human. His love for the sea was only surpassed by his love for freedom and democracy, something that made him an active participant in all the struggles of Greece for freedom and democracy. He participated in the writers' resistance movement during the German occupation. He also became involved in the struggle to reinstate democracy during the seven-year military regime.

He wrote powerful and brave lines of poetry which during the Occupation he published under the name "Tapeinos" ("Humble"). The poet of open horizons always dreamed of dying at sea, dreading a death on land. This however was not to be as he passed away in February of 1975 in an Athens Hospital.

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