Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Bell

Yannis Ritsos

Who hung this black bell (and when?) directly above the table
from the center of the ceiling? — was it months ago? — years ago?
Bent over our plates we hadn't noticed. We had never raised
our heads, not even a little — why should we have? But now
we know — it's there, immovable. Who was the first to see it? Who told us about its presence,
since we never spoke of it? Perhaps, one night,
as we drained the last drop of wine from our cup, our eye
caught a glimpse through the cloudy glass. Immediately
we bent our heads back down, farther than before. Hungry or not, we ate, expecting
the bell to be struck at any moment by some giant and invisible hand —
nine or twelve times, maybe only once, but boundlessly and undisciplined,
and we kept track of the numbers within, lest we grew too fond of its ringing.

June 14, 1968
Partheni concentration camp

from Stones [Collected Poems:I ]

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