Thursday, April 2, 2009


Yannis Ritsos

At first, when we looked at the sea, the men, our hearts,
our mouths filled with silence and our eyes with what lay ahead.

Because nothing was ever certain for us
it was certain that our children, tomorrow, would have their pockets filled
with gardens and with games we never had a chance to play.

It was certain that our women
would have the shade of a small lilac
at their every step, spring mornings.

It was certain that our old men would have a walking stick
that buds at dusk in the corner of the house.
We were able to sleep because of this,
despite the fear coiling up inside our boots.

The moon, at the opening of the tent,
was like a yellowed and heavily censored postcard.

Yet, we could read them,
even the ones that were erased,
even the ones that were never written,
even the ones that were known never to have been sent,

as if we could read spring in the green leaves,
as if we could read out the corner of our eyes
Phitsos's apology or the tiny scribblings of Aliki Tsoukala,
as if we could read beneath our bitterness Moscow's Red Square
with its processions of delegates from people's democracies around the world.

We slept soundly because of this, sprawled out beside our hearts.
A window open beyond our sorrow, beyond our fear.
And a branch in front of the window.
The bread.
And our oath.

We listened as our beards, our nails, and our hopes grew long.

Sleep, comrade.
I'm near you.
Take my hand.

The sun is near.

from Petrified Time (1949) [Collected Poems: Τα Επικαιρικα --- pg 269-270]

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