As Americans debate, in this political season, yet again what it means to be an American, the history of our culture provides two instructive lessons. First, history, like a river, never stops: you can’t go back, only forward. And second, as Whitman, Hughes and countless others have demonstrated, the workings of the mind and pen cannot be restricted or hemmed in, the river of words will always burst the bank and set a new river course, changing the scenery, creating new vistas. On the 50th anniversary of his death, we hear the voice of Langston Hughes, a great American, still resonating with power to the people.
Stavros Melissinos was born in 1929 and is well known in Athens and around the world as the poet-sandelmaker of Greece. His books of poetry, plays and essays have been translated into English, French, German and Italian and his best known work The Rubaiyat is on the curriculum of a number of American universities. He has been the subject of documentaries on the BBC and three American networks and his works are in the Harvard and Oxford libraries. He has also translated the works of many literary greats into Greek. His play Chastitity Belt was banned in Greece for political reasons, which makes him quite proud. The shop of The Poet has attracted some of the biggest names in art and culture of the last half century including the Beatles, Sophia Loren, Rudolph Nureyev, Margo Fontaine, Jackie Onassis, Anthony Quinn, George Pappard, Ursula Andress, Joseph Cotten and Gary Cooper who have all worn the sandals of the poet.
Poets of earlier times were often well read and highly educated people while others were to a large extent self-educated. A few poets such as John Gower and John Milton were able to write poetry in more than one language. Some Portuguese poets, as Francisco de Sá de Miranda , wrote not only in Portuguese but also in Spanish.  Jan Kochanowski wrote in Polish and in Latin,  France Prešeren and Karel Hynek Mácha  wrote some poems in German, although they were poets of Slovenian and Czech respectively. Adam Mickiewicz , the greatest poet of Polish language, wrote a Latin ode for emperor Napoleon III . Another example is Jerzy Pietrkiewicz , a Polish poet. When he moved to Great Britain, he ceased to write poetry in Polish, but started writing novel in English.  He also translated poetry from English and into English.