Moon if you are bright

Let’s begin with a song:

This song about a lover, who secretly comes to his girl at dawn, was written by one of the Fathers of the rebetika music-the Greek Blues, Markos Vamvakaris. The “Patriarch of Rebetiko” as his nickname suggests. He composed this song and other great masterpieces during the 1930s, in his finest years. After the World War his brand of music was no longer popular, and so Christmas of 1950 found Markos out of a job. The Greek clubs were looking for new names. Markos, who suffered from deforming arthritis, earned his little pocket money by singing with his bouzouki in cafes and ouzo bars along with his son Stelios. They would often receive payment in foods. Generally, that Christmas was very strange. People were squashed financially speaking and grocers were using much the debts’ notebook. But Markos was too proud to allow for any debts. He had to buy goods for his family. In the morning before Christmas he went and pawned two rings, including his wedding ring, and bought all that was necessary for the festive table. However, he could not speak for the whole night, burdened as he was by resentment and pain. So many songs, so many hits, so many people had a career thanks to him, and now he is forgotten by them… Silence was kept during the meal. Suddenly, Markos said: “the Russians will send humans to the moon!” He had seen this in a newspaper. Silence set again. As his wife and children finished their meal and went to bed, Markos sat in the basement, as he would often do, and picked up the bouzouki. He came out to the yard and looked at the sky for a long time. It was quite cold but the sky was crystal clear and there was an enormous Christmas moon. Μarkos stood and stared. It was so beautiful, bright and vivid, that Markos seemed to try talking to it, to tell it of the sorrow, the pain, everything he had confronted all those last years.

Suddenly something bright passed in his thought. He turned down to the basement, took a notebook and wrote:

Thousands of years in the high

for mates you have the stars

avoid it, the earth

because it is a seductress

never ask  my moon

to know people

because the suffering of the earth

you too will acquire


Human eye, do not let it see you

my moon in order to live

because if you are bright

without intention you will be extinguished

sit in your silence

and in your solitude

all on the Earth envy you

want to see all the good you have got


Do not open I tell you

any kind of dealing with people

because you’ll have yourself hurt hardly

and you will regret

the people on the globe are bad

and over this Earth you are not going

to see a white day


Bitterness sorrows and sufferings

you will have as first friends

they never will laugh

your two sweet lips

and if you are so rich

do not have trust

people do not ever discover

their goodness 

Markos Vamvakaris had the privilege of seeing his music be revived in his lifetime, in the 60s.

Haramata i ora treis- Dawn, three o’clock

Lyrics: Kwstas Makris

Music: Markos Vamvakaris

Vocal: Giannis Kotsiras and group

Fengari an esai lambero-if you are bright, moon

Lyrics and Music: Markos Vamvakaris

Vocal: “Kafe Aman”-Giwrgos Koutoulakis

This story was brought by our friend Nata and it is from a book “A story – A song” by Iraklis  Efstratiadis (in Greek edited by me)

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