New York Times Magazine

George Seferis_cover

On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM, Manolis Aligizakis <> wrote:

Dear John,


Your reference is correct…the poem relates to the monster Hydra killed by Hercules and also to the South Hemisphere Constellation.

This, of course, is based on the notes from the original book: “George Seferis-Collected Poems” by Ikaros Publishers, edition 1979: notes by George Savidis.


Hope this clarifies…if you need something else please feel free to contact me at any time.

Best regards

Manolis Aligizakis


From:Cochran, John

Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 10:39 AM

Subject: New York Times fact-checking–George Seferis


Dear Manolis,

I am fact-checking an article for the New York Times Style Magazine that mentions the Greek poet George Seferis.  Since you are an expert on Seferis’ work, I wonder if I could trouble you with one question.  Our writer, Lawrence Osborne, quotes from Seferis’s poem, “Strophe”:


The road shone before me

soft breath of sleep

at the end of a secret feast…

Moment grain of sand


that you alone kept

the tragic clepsydra whole

silent as though it had seen Hydra

in the heavenly orchard


My question relates to the Hydra reference in the second-to-last line.  Lawrence interprets it as a reference to the Greek island of Hydra.  But it seems to me like it could be a reference to the monster from Greek mythology by that name, or perhaps even to the constellation that is named after the Greek monster?  Would you mind sharing your thoughts on this, strictly on background?  Our deadline is Monday.  Thank you very much.

Best regards,



John Cochran

Research Editor

T: The New York Times Style Magazine