Friday, April 3, 2009


Yannis Ritsos

Here the sun doesn't fool around—the furious sun, reigning over us,
with eyebrows arched, with jaws set,
with his hairy chest bared as far as the sea.

One month. Two months. More months.
We kept track by hauling stones and fears on our shoulders,
by tapping a hooked finger along the jug's spine
and listening to the far off sound of water
as though we could hear a woman's voice behind a door,
as though that woman could hear the voice of the smallest of stars,
as though those stars could hear the bleating of dusk.

Noons were immense—
as long as a Sunday in the country without children.
Here noon lasts all day, sunup to sundown.

If only we were less thirsty, it wouldn't occupy our minds,
if only there was a tree on the hillside or at the top of the island,
if only a handful of shade, and less bitterness, less injustice.

We no longer recall the shape of a tree—is it, perhaps,
like a large banner of water?
or like a "thank you" spoken to you in the past?
or like a lover's hand searching for your hand?

The day after tomorrow we'll plant a thousand trees.

from Petrified Time (1949) [Collected Poems: Τα Επικαιρικα --- pg 268]

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