Friday, December 12, 2008


Yannis Ritsos

Fallen—face down, jaw to the ground, his neck
clamped between the other’s knees—his face turns blue,
veins swell at his temples. No movement.
Then a twitch—is it a final convulsion? Close your eyes. No, no.
Merely beautiful surrender. The body relaxes. Little by little
a smile spreads across the face, like someone looking at the sea
from a window (a somewhat narrow window, it’s true) or like
a severed head, dignified—still in control of its expression;
yes, yes, a smile spreads. The red knife is in the tray.
On either side a pot of flowers.
His eye teeth sparkle in the sun—gold, elongated,
two small bayonets guarding the mortal remains
at the gate to ancient, cunning immortality.

May 25, 1968
Partheni concentration camp

from Stones [Collected Poems:I ]

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