Yannis Ritsos-Poems, Selected books, Volume II

ΦΙΛΟΚΤΗΤΗΣ//PHILOCTETES

by Yannis Ritsos/Translated by Manolis Aligizakis

Κι ήτανε κιόλας σα ν’ ακούγαμε τα μυστικά πελέκια μες στο δάσος
να κόβουν ξύλα. Ακούγαμε το μέγα γδούπο, όταν σωριάζονταν
ένα δέντρο στο χώμα, και τη σιωπή τρομαγμένη
να κρύβεται πίσω απ’ τους ώμους μας. Κι ήταν σα να ’βλεπα κιόλας
τον Δούρειο Ίππο, κούφιον, θεόρατο, να λάμπει επικίνδυνος
μες στην αστροφεγγιά, θρησκευτικός σχεδόν, ενώ η σκιά του
εκτεινόταν μυθική στα τείχη. Κι ένιωθα κιόλας
σα να βρισκόμουν μες στο κούφωμα του αλόγου, μαζί με τους άλλους,
ολομόναχος, σε άβολη στάση, μέσα στο λαιμό του αλόγου,
και να κοιτάζω με τ’ άδεια του μάτια τη γυάλινη νύχτα,
σαν κρεμασμένος μες στο χάος, γνωρίζοντας
πως η χαίτη που ανέμιζε πάνω απ’ τον αυχένα μου
δεν ήταν δική μου, — ούτε κι η νίκη, φυσικά. Ωστόσο ετοιμαζόμουνα
για το τεράστιο, μάταιο άλμα μέσα στο άγνωστο.

Έτσι, σ’ αυτή τη στάση, εκεί ψηλά, μέσα στο σανιδένιο λαρύγγι του αλόγου,
θα ’νιωθα καταβροχθισμένος, κι όμως ζωντανός, να εποπτεύω
τ’ αντίπαλα στρατόπεδα, τις φωτιές, τα καράβια, τ’ αστέρια,
όλο το οικείο, το τρομερό, τ’ αναρίθμητο θαύμα —όπως λένε— του κόσμου,
σα να ’μαι μπουκιά σταματημένη στο λαρύγγι του απείρου και ταυτόχρονα μια γέφυρα
πάνω από δυο, το ίδιο απόκρημνες κι άγνωστες, όχθες —
μια γέφυρα ψεύτικη, βέβαια, από ξύλο και πικρή πανουργία.
(Από κει πάνω, θαρρώ, μες σ’ έναν τέτοιο εφιάλτη,
αγνάντεψα πρώτη φορά την πραϋντική λάμψη των όπλων σου).


And it was as if we were already hearing the secret axes

in the forest cutting wood. We could hear the big thump

when a tree fell on the ground and silence, in fear,

hiding behind our shoulders. And it was as if I was seeing

the Trojan Horse gleaming in the starlight, huge, hollow,

dangerous, almost religious, while its shadow spread

on the walls like a fable. And I felt as if I was already

in the cavity of the Horse along with the others, in an

awkward position in the horse’s neck, all alone, seeing

the crystal night through its empty eyes

as if I was hanging over the void, and knowing that

it wasn’t my nape that waved but the horse’s mane,

nor was the victory, of course. Yet I prepared myself

for the endless, futile leap into the unknown.

In this position, high above, in the plank-lined throat

of the horse, I truly felt swallowed, and yet alive and

I observed the enemy camp, the fires, the ships, the stars

all that familiar miracle, as it was called, the horrible,

incalculable miracle of the world, as if I was a morsel

of food stuck in the throat of infinity and at the same time

a bridge over two embankments equally unknown and

precipitous, a false bridge, of course, made of wood

              and bitter cunningness.  

(from that high vantage position, I think, in such

a nightmare I first noticed the soothing brilliance

             of your weapons.)

Nostos and Algos//Powrot I Bol

Με ιδιαίτερη χαρά έμαθα ότι το βιβλίο ποίησης μου Νόστος και Άλγος, σε μετάφραση στην Πολωνική από τους Mirek Grudzien και Gosia Zurecka, μόλις εκδόθηκε στην πόλη Rzeszow από τους εκδότες Podkarpacki Institut. Ευχαριστώ πολύ τους μεταφραστές και τον εκδότη για την καλαίσθητη έκδοση

I’m pleased to inform all my friends that my poetry book Nostos and Algos, translated in Polish by Mirek Grudzien and Gosia Zurecka was just released in the city of Rzeszow in Poland by the publishers Podkarpacki Institut. Thank you to both the translators and the publisher for the beautiful release.

Θεωρώ το Νόστος και Άλγος σαν το πιο πετυχυμένο μου βιβλίο ποίησης αφού μεταφράστηκε σε 6 γλώσσες κι εκδόθηκε σε 6 χώρες. Στα ελληνικά με τίτλο Φυλλορροές, από τις εκδόσεις Ένεκεν στη Θεσσαλονίκη.

I consider Nostos and Algos my most successful poetry book since it has been translated into 6 different languages and published in six different countries of the world.

‘Neo-Hellene Poets an Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry 1750-2018. A Review’ by P.W. Bridgman

Important aspects of so many of our cultural institutions in North America and Western Europe can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. We were taught that inescapable truth in our school classrooms and we have read it in our history books. And yet, for some reason, we in the West have been less mindful of modern Greek history and modern Greek literature in particular. There may have been a brief brush with Seferis during a second- or third-year poetry course at university, yes. And one perhaps recalls a fleeting encounter with Cavafy in an anthology of modern world literature in translation. Perhaps. But most of us are woefully ignorant of the great wealth of poetry that has proliferated in Greece since the mid-1700s. Manolis’ book of translations of the works of many, many diverse poetic voices from the modern era in Greece thus constitutes a great gift. He has given us—handily assembled between the two covers of Neo-Hellene Poets: An Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry, 1750-2018—a ready resource to which we may now turn in order to make up that glaring lacuna that exists in our cultural education. Poems that are orderly and formal, and poems that are unruly and unbounded; works steeped in tradition and works that are wildly innovative; verse that is serious and sentimental, and verse that is droll and irreverent; it’s all there. The modern Greek poetic tapestry is multi-coloured, artful and highly textured and it deserves far more attention that it has gotten to date from scholars and from other members of Western societies who turn to poetry for pleasure and inspiration but cannot read or speak Greek. We must be thankful to Manolis for opening a door that has been effectively closed for three centuries. At last, English speakers and readers can feast at a long-overlooked table, a table well laden with many exotic literary delights. Mr. Waiter, would you please bring us the wine list?

P.W. Bridgman, author, poet.

View the book: Neo-Hellene Poets – An Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry 1750-2018’ by Manolis Aligizakis