The atmosphere that prevailed at the turn of the century led many poets to an interior symbolic language: they were less interested in using poetry to express the general preoccupations of the time or to make suggestions for the future of the nation,

than to express internal issues of personal distress and disenchantment. In any case, as Symbolisism was largely incompatible with the Greek landscape, this European movement was not transplanted to Greece in full; but it did bring a different sort of discourse that preserved the essence of Symbolism without its external forms.

Kostas Chatzopoulos (Ta elegeia kai ta eidyllia, Elegies and Idyls), 1918, lived for many years in Germany, where he was initiated into northern European artistic traditions and ways of thought. This experience is conveyed in his poetry as a dim, autumnal, shadowy atmosphere distinguished by an exceptional musicality. He is the most consistent Symbolist poet.
The new poetic idiom, closer to French models this time, is used by Ioannis Gryparis (Skaravaioi kai terrakotes, Scarabs and Terracottas), 1919, whose work signals the passage from Parnassianism to Symbolism.
Lambros Porfyras (Skies, Shadows), 1920, a minor but original poet, expressed the spleen of his generation in the most original way. These three poets are the most representative poets of Symbolism and reflect its three different strands as it developed in Greece.

Lorentzos Mavilis was a remarkable poet (1860-1912), whose work was an amalgam of the meeting of modern artistic movements, his socialist ideas and the poetry tradition of his native Ionian Islands. Mavilis almost exclusively cultivated the sonnet form.

Other poets of the period are Miltiadis Malakasis (1869-1943), who also moved in Symbolist circles. His earlier work included Asfodeloi (Asphodels), 1918; his later poems took a different direction in works such as Batarias; Zaharias Papantoniou (1877-1940), younger than Malakasis and with a large and varied output that linked his generation with the next, that of 1920, namely Spilios Pasayannis, Alekos Fotiadis, Markos Tsirimokos, Nikos Petimezas, Sotiris Skipis and the younger Athanassios Kyriazis and Georgios Athanas (G. Athanasiadis-Novas). In this period significant poets emerge whose work left its stamp on modern Greek literary output.
Angelos Sikelianos (1884-1951), Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) and Kostas Varnalis (1884-1974) had certain elements in common: their reaction to decline, their Dionysian enthusiasm and their vision for the rebirth of a better and more heroic world. These poets emerged during this period in poetry and later engaged in other forms of writing. The first two shared a messianic concept of the creator, the bearer of a redemptive message, intense existentialist preoccupations, retraction from the monotony of daily life and the search for the heroic dimension in life. Varnalis, on the other hand, after his initial Symbolic poems, became involved in Communist ideology and aligned his art with the revolutionary programme of the Communist Party.
Meanwhile, in Alexandria, a prominent poet had already appeared who would be a unique exponent of and influence in Greek poetry, Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933).