Monday, April 6, 2009


Yannis Ritsos

Stone swept clean by wind—
wind, silence—
we never hear a thing
only the stone's heart
beating in anger and in pain
heavy, slow, constant.

Plentiful stone,
plentiful hearts,
we will use them to build tomorrow's factories,
the new working class,
red stadiums,
and grand monuments for the Heroes of the Revolution.

Of course, we won't forget a monument for Dick—
yes, our dog Dick,
in the artillery division,
that was killed by the prison guards
because he loved us exiles too much.

A monument for Dick—
a stone dog
with muscular hindquarters,
with two drops of devotion for eyes,
with a slightly raised upper lip
showing his left tooth
as if about to bite
night's ankle
or a prison guard's shadow
or the long, narrow beams cast by a lantern
placing a plaque of silence
between our words and our hands.

Comrades, we'll never forget Dick,
our companion
that barked at night by the prison gate facing the sea
and lulled us to sleep with his scratching
at Freedom's bare feet,
at the golden fly of the morning star
upon his raised ear.

Now, Dick rests in peace,
forever showing his left tooth.

Maybe the day after tomorrow we'll hear him again
barking happily at some demonstration
weaving back-and-forth under the banners
a small banner trailing from his left tooth
reading "Down with eardrums!"

Dick, you were the best dog.
Comrades, we'll never forget him,
our dog that they censored from our letters,
our dog that was killed
because he loved us too much.

from Petrified Time (1949) [Collected Poems: Τα Επικαιρικα --- pg 264-265]

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