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"State Of Siege" - Poems


Like the child scarred by the first experience of solitude
Time and endurance will end by breaking my heart
I shall have lost my way for ever, if I am allowed to get
out of here,
Shall I go searching for you everywhere, in flat places,
In the pieces of the mirror, in wasted glances
Again to find your face, my heart searching?
Shall I alone speak the language that was once ours,
That was once the only thing left to us,
In the shades of the dead - in dead colors - images -
When our nights were simple incidents,
In the great night that began so long ago?
How shall I measure the time in here, its lunar intervals
its starlike bounds,
How shall I measure my blind progress, the unforeseen
span of your absence
Within this inexorable spaceship
In the heart of the city that was once ours
Now governed by tanks?
Sevenfold confusion, scaled, besieged within and without
by fear of the thousand faces,
The cries of the incurable subside at half past five every
The sirens shatter the silence
Those asleep inscrutable dead,
Again and again - where are your hands? Where is your
Will the walls resist tonight? Will darkness prevail?
How shall I measure?
Just as the first experience of solitude scars the still
young child,
Your absence has driven a knife up to the hilt into my
place and time
Ugliness has everywhere, in my breast, in confusion,
in my wounds,
The bloodstained path grom innocence to murder, from
murder to remorse, lament and again to murder.
How shall I sing your praise?
My voice that loved has been stabbed.
In my wakefulness my hair that you loved is celestial
My hands move in despair
Wherever I look I find you not
Square holes of darkness through the bars.
Hellenism betrayed, treachery, a knife to the heart,
Wounded light after ten, unexplained noises, breathing,
Vain sacrifice, siege, absence, the guard's cigarette.
I shall only speak in this language
The others will say: ‚How that fellow has changed!'
Looking at me with the single eye of a Cyclops tourist,
Asking me to speak of heroes,
Others wo sleep through these labyrinth nights when
treachery shouts from the house tops,
Drowning the tanks and aircraft, the fear, the step of
the guard,
The nights without you, when treachery shouts from the
house tops
And my broken heart likewise shouts
Like the children of Zenobia, scattered to the ends of the
earth and despair.
The nights without you, nowhere.
For I shall have lost you
In the moving darkness
Like the struggle
That was ‚difficult yet fine'
And turned out to be a rotten grape.
How, without you?
Just at the child is forever scarred by its first experience
of solitude,
My body will break up, my cells dissolve one by one
On this Procrustes bed of time,
The sunspot of my body will explode
Will write your name throughout the heavens,
My cells will one by one graft on to people
With the age of suffering, in the mauve light of dusk
behind the grille.
I shall send my dreams to disturb their sweet slumber,
Send hatred to nest in their unsuspecting glances,
When the warder comes to call the roll,
The others will say: ‚Escaped',
Misunderstanding my death.
You alone will know,
I alone shall remember your hands,
The dull whine of the dog outside the prison,
The men's cries on the terrace,
The despair in the Chinese drawing,
Greek enigmas: ‚What is it that comes up its feet
and goes down on a blanket?'
Will you alone know
How my body was lost,
My voice scattered, I was kept awake,
How fear has echoes, the face of despair?
You alone will know.
I shall go on speaking in that language.


Far, far away life is heard
High, high above the lights shine - maybe -
The lights stolen from us of the city stolen from us,
The memory of the last sunset, our mountains around.
Far, far away you exist. It must be so.
If only I could hear your bright laugh, behind the soiled
One day when all becomes known
When the frozen memory has thawed.
Now everywhere - ‚My statement, I must remember
what I said in my statement'
Colours will return - perhaps.
One day the doors of the tombs, the houses, the prisons
will be opened
We shall count our dead, share our new songs
One day
You will learn
The rest
You will remember
That life exist far, far, away.
You will be far away
And I
Shall be no more.


Time has made a change. The years have made a
You know where to find me.
I am fear, I am death,
I am unbridled memory,
I am the memory of your tender hands,
I am the sorrow for our spoilt life,
By my agony I shall besiege the ‚mind your own
I shall break their sleep with noisy fearful fireworks,
Countless bullets will strike the indifferent passers-by
Till they start to tremble
Till they start to ask questions
They won't be able to kill me
But I think that the only ones who may understand will
be the children
Rich in our heritage
For the first time
The children
Harsh in memory, harsh to us,
May read in time the clumsy message of the previous
Correcting the mistakes, erasing the lies,
Naming correctly,
Dispassionately, the children, correctly by age,
Scarred by the lightning knowledge of the solitude of
strength so late in reaching us.
If now I seek you in despair in the mighty waves of my
If I call you with every breath
When I come to return to the dark roads of the world,
With only a handful of moonstones to lead me
Blinding the world with the peals of mad laughter from
the nun holding the key,
Deafening the world with the echoes from the terrace
With the cries of the tortured and those torturing them,
Shaking the world with that language of death
You may have found the way in your labyrinth,
You may be a proud tree on the crossroad of the world,
With all the rivers secretly reaching your roots,
Your children and all the children
May rejoin time and life - one moment before chaos.
Nothing of me will be left
Neither the remorse I planned to be
Nor the touch of your hand
Nor my most important part, my tongue,
I shall have dissolved in all the rivers of the world
I shall have written your name in all the snows of the
I shall have gone through the darkness I feared to the
other bank
My body perhaps dead but once more intact will rest
With the memory of you and the sunlit live around it.

Rena Hadjidakis
Translated by Graham Webb

(Flow-song composed at Nea Smyrni in March 1968 and at Vrakhati in May 1969, on a poem by Marina.)

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