Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Twelve Chapters for Doftana Prison: 6

Yannis Ritsos

In the sweat shop where the hard labor was done,
I touch the grindstones, the anvils, the hammers,
I touch your hands, comrades, in the iron. The grindstones
were spare wheels for each broken-down dream.
This hammer hammered out darkness upon the anvil
forging a small sculpture of a smile. Upon this anvil
is wrought the secret monogram of freedom. This hammer
brings down the final verdict: the wheaten sun of the loaves will rise
above every table, the song will rise
to the blossoming lips of men.

Here small objects, modest, carved in wood and seeds,
silent boxes and birds as if brought here from Makronisos,
whittled forms kept secret from the guards.
Those saintly, human fingers, their craftmanship, are not forgotten—
small objects, mute, thoughtful, all made holy
by the great silence of resistance. And in the bowl
that wooden globe with the proletariat in chains,
as though rounding the belly of the earth while at the top
the worker breaking his chains.
. Common allegories, crude,
scratched into wood, with the beautiful exaggeration of the unschooled,
with the untrained attention of those trained in courage.

And I saw the world that will move within the bowl
propelled by the flourish among the hopeful
like a new planetary will within the firmament of sacrifice.

from The Architecture of the Trees (1958) [Collected Poems: The Timely ---pg 350-351]

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