Saturday, April 4, 2009


Yannis Ritsos

Dry spit on the day's mouth, not even enough
moisture to stick a stamp on your mother's postcard.
Just dust, under fingernails and in eyes,
like bitterness adhering to memory's hide.

We went on, up and down the mountain,
our backs burdened with stone and with death,
under orders, under the whip.
We thought only of water and of stone,
of life and of death. We got used to it,
our sorrow lessened,
eventually or anger lessened,
only our resolve wouldn't lessen.

Between night's pick and its shovel
the comrades rested
teeth clenched,
using their fists for pillows.

from Petrified Time (1949) [Collected Poems: Τα Επικαιρικα --- pg 267]

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