Saturday, January 10, 2009


Yannis Ritsos

A peaceful sea with scarcely a flaw: faked light
coloring low clouds. If you don’t remember,
you won’t forget. The present—he says—but what present? There came,
at night, mute messengers who sat on the stone steps,
who took out cloth napkins and spread them on their knees,
and who, a little later, folded them back up and left. One
had a scar running from his temple to his chin. He stood
and pointed toward the sea, then cinched up his belt.
We lowered our lamps to the ground and watched our shadows
scramble up the white wall—enormous, hairy, without bones.

May 18, 1968
Partheni concentration camp

from Stones [Collected Poems: I ]

1 comment:

Drew said...

Wow. Some real gems in this one. I'm following up by exploring the personal and political context, but my current superficial understanding of Yannis Ritsos life limits how deeply I can enter his poetry. Nonetheless, his poems transport me to his visions or moments of experience that inspired the lines.