“Anthos Rodinis – a truly steely satirist and a prolific poet – has made his presence felt, continuously and without interruption, for many decades now, on the front page of the newspaper Phileleftheros and elsewhere, peering with Diogenes’ lantern into the… dirty laundry of our society, bringing to the surface and cauterizing all that is wrong, crooked and backwards with the rulers and the ruled, with the archons and the vassals… But also praising and encouraging what is good and beautiful in life and society.
Diogenes’ scathing and incisive pen has jolted, and is jolting, many and much in every form of governmental, political, social, religious life and activity in our country, as well as beyond the confines of our island. It has whipped and is whipping, praised and is praising, individuals, groups, situations, events and things.
Diogenes has become a daily alarm of consciousness and deliberation on good and bad deeds, on omissions and wonderful initiatives, on kindness and malice, on hatred and love, on destructiveness and building, on bravery and cowardice, on selfishness and selflessness.
Diogenes makes the wrongdoers unhappy recipients of his wit, and the do-gooders happy. But his intention is always to correct and heal, never to slay…”
– Andreas Kannaouros, Preface to the collection One to the Nail and One to the Horseshoe, 1999.
One to the Nail and One to the Horseshoe, 1999
If you remain a slave to deceitful dreams
and do not own plots on the island of Cyniras,
if you are not a Minister, or an MP at least,
you can spit on me,
if, on this land,
you ever manage to build anything.
If you ever marry without asking for a dowry,
if you call a spade a spade and the kettle black,
if you have the courage to speak your mind, if you are prudent,
you will be taking one step forward and two steps back
until you die hungry
on a straw bed, penniless.
If your principle is honest work,
never grabbing, never stealing,
if honor’s scepter you raise with courage,
an idiot you will become
and they will tell you “live”
like a flea-bitten cat.
If you do not have a wife that everyone admires,
if your honor no one insults,
if you are not eager… to carry a lantern,
they will not greet you,
when they meet you.
those that you greet.
If you do not bend your spine as low as you can
and with lies you do not harm your fellow man,
if only frankness you put forth,
like a being without worth,
you will be counted as a member of the party
of donkeys’ asses.
PEOPLE, WAKE UP
Do not wait for a solution that is honorable and just,
beloved people, for it will never come.
The way we have complicated things – I say with sadness –
we are all going to the dogs, I fear.
We have erred fatally, people, in the past
and you will never see Cyprus whole again.
Again they will set us up and cheat us
and from one chaos to another they will lead us.
I am not Cuéllar to tell tall tales,
nor am I a man who believes in fairytales,
that is why I am telling you, be careful and vigilant,
or… if you’re asleep on your feet, people, wake up!
IN THE PARLIAMENT
I shall not go to the theatre any more
but attend the parliament instead,
where new plots and storylines evolve
and truly… “great performances” are given
with free admission and balcony seats
and god bless “Tzyrkakos,” dear reader,
who supports the parliament, pays for it all,
even if lining for his shoes he cannot afford.
Since the venerable parliament has managed
to combine the pleasant with the useful
I will attend all its meetings eagerly
and… whistle thrice when I depart!
Scandals, only scandals, people, and nothing more
and that… we are scandalized I have no doubt.
The land of scandals our beloved country has become
and much dirty laundry the Auditor General airs out.
If draconian measures are not taken, in any case,
the scandal’s root, poor people, will not be found.
And since we are not writing a new 1821
I fear the Turks will snuff us out one by one!
NOTHING FOR THE FATHER
We have heard all the praises and hymns to the mother,
but no one praised, not one bit, the poor father.
During all those lectures, no one thought
to say one word about the pillar of the home.
They have raised the mother to the seventh heaven
and you were completely forgotten, poor father.
They did not weave wreaths or erect pedestals,
nor dedicate poems, not even one article for you.
If no one was moved by your many virtues
it’s you fault for never having had a bun… in the oven!!!
Let our honorable leaders take measures.
The unemployed multiply but… there are no flies left to squat.
Thousands of scientists going hungry
and degrees have become… a laughing matter.
They have studied hard, but look at them now,
hands tied, bemoaning their studies.
What can they do, government, with their degrees?
Hang them from their necks and sell… lottery tickets?
Translated by Irena Joannides
ANTHOS RODINIS was born in 1926 in Morphou. He began writing poetry and historical narrations at an early age, publishing his first works in 1942. In 1947 he became involved with journalism and worked at various newspapers until 1955, when he was hired as Programs Officer and Announcer at the Cyprus Broadcasting Service (later Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation). He remained at CyBC until his retirement in 1986.
During WWII he worked at BBC’s Greek Programs Service where his writing was featured. With the establishment of the newspaper O Phileleftheros in 1955, Rodinis began contributing a front-page column of timely satirical verses under the pseudonym “Diogenes.” He maintained this daily column until 1989 – an unprecedented journalistic and poetic achievement. Other collaborations, including chronicles and other prose works, were featured in many other publications.
Rodinis also wrote for radio and theatre. His revues and Cypriot character studies were produced for radio, television and stage. He penned the especially sucessful musical Ttallou, the Matchmaker and song lyrics such as “Matsikoridon” that have been set to music. Anthos Rodinis has been honoured repeatedly for his rich and diverse contribution to literature.
A study on his life and work that includes an introduction, reviews, anthology and biographical notes was written and edited by Prof. Chrysanthos Chrysanthou and published last year as part of the Cyprus PEN’s Literary Profiles series.