Pontian music, poetry, songs and dances express the culture, customs, traditions and life of the Pontians – a people with roots in ancient Greece and the Byzantine Empire.
The songs of the Pontian people provide some of the more unique aspects of Hellenic folklore. They move the spirit. They lead it to ecstasy and exaltation. Even today the Pontians sing with passion, keeping alive and preserving the memories of their suffering during the Asia Minor catastrophe. In the same manner, they preserve not only the memories of their past glories, but also the heart wrenching longing for their lost homeland.
The Pontian song is perceived and sung by its creator as a “tragedy” (τραγωδία). In their own dialect the Pontian people say: “So tell us a tragedy…(Για πέ μας έναν τραγωδίαν…) the young man tells us such beautiful tragedies etc” (Έμορφα τραγωδίας λέει αούτος ο παιδάς).The tragic element is present in most of these songs. In performance, the sense of agony is heightened, leading to cathartic salvation.
The myths and legends of ancient Greece are frequently encountered in the stanzas of Pontian songs. These myths and legends in conjunction with other elements constitute the foundation and structure of the contemporary world of Greek literature and art. The Muse of Pontos – with its sweet echoes, human cries, and national trumpets, expresses the beauty and deep essence of life. Its message of hopefulness spreads light into the Eastern expanse of Asia, where it vibrates and inspires the refined souls of other ethnic groups. The Laz people (descendants of ancient Colchis) borrow from it, while the Persians and other nations such as the Georgians, acknowledge its influence.
Hellenism/Romiosoni is lost
A bird, a kind bird, from the City flying,
neither at vines nor at fields he alighted,
He flew and perched at the Portal of Hagia Sophia.
An Eagle Soared to the Heights
An Eagle soared to the heights, up high in the sky
His feet were red and his beak was black,
in his claws a brave youth’s hands he grasped.
All our ships
All our ships
Have now returned,
their mastheads shattered
their sails torn,
from Smyrna and from Mudania
they came back so forlorn.