Thoughts on the poem “The twelve words of the Gypsy” by Costis Palamas (2)

Posted by: Maria Atalanti

Published on: 14/02/2021

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No matter how many mountains you climb,
from their peaks you will see other peaks
higher, another form of a seducer nature;
and even when you reach the highest peak,
you will understand again that you are,
like at the beginning, under all the stars.

Another stanza from Kostis Palama’s poem “The twelve words of the Gypsy”, which with poetic beauty states a timeless, universal truth: the unsatisfied of the human soul and the human spirit.

We all know that whatever we acquire either at the material, the professional, or the spiritual level, there is always something else that we do not have, and this lurks either to provoke us to try again, or to fill us with frustration and disappointment.

But the poet replies again:

” you will understand again that you are,
like at the beginning, under all the stars.”

…. under all the stars. It sets the limit of the search for the human soul “the stars”. Something completely elusive – especially at the time of Kostis Palamas – that is outside of human nature and human achievements, but at the same time is a bright sign of hope that covers our world and sets high goals in our lives.

In Genesis’s book No. 1.27 states:

… “so, God created mankind, in his own image, in the image of God, he created him…”

Who is God? Perhaps in a quite simple way, one could say that he is the one who’s energy and power governs the universe and its function. It does not matter whether one is religious or not, the above words indicate the possibility, but also the obligation of everyone to understand the universe and its laws, because it is simply within our nature to do so. Both religious and non-religious people know this. It is a force that pushes everyone to look for something more, in the field that they think will find happiness and fulfill the desires of their soul.

So, we climb mountains and conquer peaks in every expression of our lives. And if we want to fulfill this voracious need and feel happy, we must start with the simple and everyday things. Each of our acts is a challenge to aim for a better result next time and win another top. Every peak we conquer is a satisfaction that may not last long, but it is an incentive to try harder next time and gain more satisfaction. The quality of the objectives we set is also important. If our aspirations are based on the acquisition of mainly material goods, I fear that satisfaction will last less and less and, in the end, will turn into a feeling of frustration and misery. Material goods are necessary to serve our needs and decorate our lives beautifully. But they do not fill the soul’s desire to reach the stars.

Driven by this inner need, we often become greedy and voracious. We gather around us, or at least try to gather, material goods, power, control, high positions and even claims to achievements. But often there is no satisfaction. The void within us remains.

We are complicated beings. We are not content with just being fed and breed like animals. We are not content just being caressed by the rays of the sun and the satiety of our thirst, like plants. We are not just content with love, like all the other beings on the planet. We have been given this breath that wants us to reach the stars and it is only satisfied if we become “Gods” every moment, that is, if we create in our daily lives and if every act is governed by our sense of creativity.

I have mentioned it before, and I repeat it now. I believe that turning every act of our lives into an act of creativity helps us to realize our nature and brings happiness. And we do not have to do great things, simple and everyday things can be done with creative inspiration. Cooking, taking care of the house, taking care of the garden, dealing with monotonous work in the office, everything can be done in an imaginative way and with the expectation of a better result every time.

Our ancestors started from the caves as food collectors and today’s society targets to the stars. What has brought this progress and change? This breath that God instilled in mankind and created us in His image. This is what made us a creative force in the universe. So, let us make the most of this! It is the fulfilment of our nature and our key to happiness!



  • I have tried to find a formal translation of this poem in English, but it was not possible. I have translated the poem and please excuse me if it is not good enough, for such a great poet. I hope you will be able to get the meaning




Information about Costis Palamas you can find following the link below:



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