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"Epitaphios" - Poems





(Photo: Stoa tou Bibliou)


1.

WHERE DID MY BOY FLY AWAY (POU PETAXE T'AGORI MOU)

Son, my flesh and blood. marrow of my bones, heart of my own heart,
sparrow of my tiny courtyard, flower of my loneliness.

Where did my boy fly away? Where's he gone? Where's he leaving me?
The bird-cage is empty now, not a drop of water in the fonnt.

What ever made your dear eyes close and you are blind to my tears?
How are yon frozen in yonr tracks and deāf to my bitter words?


2.

YOUR SWEETLY SCENTED LlPS (CHILI POU MOSCHOMYRISTO)

My fingers would slip through your cnrly hair, aIl through the night,
wliile you were fast asleep and I was keeping watch by your side.

Your eyebrows weIl shaped, as if drawn with a delicate pencil,
seemed to sketch an arch where my gaze could nestle and be at rest.

Your glistening eyes reflected the distances of the sky
at dawn and I tried to keep a single tear from misting them.

Your sweetly scented lips, whenever you spoke, made the boulders
and blighted trees blossom and nightmgales flutter their wings.


3.

ON A DAY IN MAY YOU LEFT ME (MERA MAYIOU MOU MISEPSES)

On a day in May you left me, on that May day I lost you,
in springtime you loved so weIl, my son, when you went upstairs,

To the sun-drenched roof and looked out and your eyes never had
their lill of drinking in the light of the whole wide world at large.

With your manly voice so sweet and so warm, you recounted
as many things as all the pebbles strewn along the seashore.

My son, you told me that all these wonderful things will be ours,
but now your light has died out, our brightness and fire are gone.


4.

MY STAR YOU'VE SET (VASSILEPSES ASTERI MOU)

My star, you've set, fading out in the dark, aIl Creation has set,
and the sun, a black ball of twine, has gathered in its bright light

Crowds keep passing by and jostling me, soldiers trample on me,
but my own gaze never swerves ana my eyes never leave you.

The misty aura of your breath I feel against my cheek;
ah, a buoyant great light's a-float at tlie end of the road.

The palm of a hand bathed in light is wiping the tears from my eyes;
ah my son, the words you spoke rush into my innermost core.

And look now; I've risen again, my limbs can still stand firm;
a blithe light, my brave lad; has lifted me up from the ground.

Now you are shrouded in banners. My child, now go to sleep
I'm on my way to your brothers, beanng your voice with me


5.

YOU WERE KIND AND SWEET OF TEMPER (ISSOUN KALOS ISSOUN GLYKOS)

You were kind and sweet of temper, aIl the good graces were yours,
all the wind's caresses, all the gillyflowers of the garden.

You were light of foot, treading as softly as a gazelle,
when you stepped past our threshold it always glittered like gold

I drew youth from your youth and to boot, I could even smile.
Old age never daunted me and death I could disregard.

But now where can I hold my ground? Where can I find shelter?
I'm stranded like a withered tree in a plain buried in snow


6.

WHENEVER YOU STOOD NEAR THE WINDOW (STO PARATHYRI STEKOSSOUN)

Whenever you stood near the window, your brawny shoulder-blades
filled up the whole entranceway, the sea and the fishermen's boats

The house overflowed with your shadow, tall as an archangel,
and the bright bud of the evening-star sparkled up there in your ear.

Our window was the gateway for all the world, leading out
towards paradise, my dear hght, where the stars were all in bloom.

As you stood there with your gaze fixed on the glimmering sunset,
you looked like a helmsman steering a ship, which was your own room.

ln the warm blue twilight of evening - ahoy, away -
you sailed me straight into the stillness of ihe milky way
.
But now this ship has foundered, ils rudder has broken down,
and down in the depths of the ocean, I'm drifting all alone.


7.

IF ONLY I HAD THE IMMORTALS' POTION (T'ATHANATO NERO)

If only I had the immortals' potion if only I had
A new soul to give you, if only yould wake for a moment,

To see and to speak and delight in the whole of your dream
Standing right there by your side, next to you, bursting with life.

Roadways and public places, balconies, lanes in an uproar,
young maidens are picking flowers to sprinkle on your hair.

My fragrant forest full of tens of thousands of roots and leaves,
how can I the ill-fated believe I can ever lose you?

My son, all things have vanished and abandoned me back here
I have no eyes and cannot see, no mouth to let me speak.


8.

MY SWEET LAD YOU HAVE NOT BEEN LOST (GLYKE MOU ESSY DEN CHATHIKES)

My son, what Fate has destined you and what Fate was my doom
to kindle such buming grief, such fire inside my breast?

My sweet lad, you have not been lost, you live inside my veins.
My son, flow deep into all our veins and stay for ever alive.


Š Yannis Ritsos - Translation: Š Amy Mims





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