Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Twelve Chapters for Doftana Prison: 5

Yannis Ritsos

I walk around, I touch, I smell, I listen.
Behind every one of my steps, a second like an echo.
Here everything is austere, determined, assured.
The nakedness of pain and of loyalty is here.
Here everything is re-baptized and given their true names.
Here history takes off its shirt,
reveals its wounds and its glory.

Because of this, we speak without hesitation,
we say, "I love," and we say "we shall overcome,"
we say, "happiness is possible" because love is safeguarded
in the eyes from one comrade to another,
because words can sometimes be stones that build a bridge
spanning the steep banks of solitude.

And this lamp in Ilya Pintilie's cell
still holds a rough light from nights in isolation
in its small clouded glass
like a fist of light that strikes darkness right in the chest.

from The Architecture of the Trees (1958) [Collected Poems: The Timely ---pg 350]

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