Thursday, April 24, 2008

Twelve Chapters for Doftana Prison: 8

Yannis Ritsos

Framed letters from prisoners.
Framed poems. I know the handwriting.
I see the hand of Tataki and Belogianni.
The letters of prisoners are all the same.
Prisons around the world are all the same.
Even resolve and its smile colors every lip the same.

Poems scratched upon walls using fingernails,
the repetition of certain words—always a red dawn at the end of every night,
red words, red blood, eyes red from vigilance,
friendly repetitions—like heart beats repeating,
like iambs in a demotic song repeating,
like sobs of grief repeating
like cheers at an October parade repeating.

It's the blood of fighters that makes the first real poem.

These inscriptions made by fingers and hung so modestly on the white wall
comprise a national gallery of the honorable. Today, my own inscriptions
in the archives of Athens Insurance, perhaps its precisely these,
my most beautiful poems, that I can offer to you, my comrades.

from The Architecture of the Trees (1958) [Collected Poems: The Timely ---pg 352]

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