Yannis Ritsos-Poems, Selected Books


Η Ελένη/Helen

Τί θα γινόμουν αν δεν είχα κι αυτές; «Υπομονή, υπομονή», λέω·
«υπομονή», — κι είναι κι αυτό σαν μια ελάχιστη νίκη, την ώρα
που αυτές διαβάζουν τις παλιές επιστολές των θαυμαστών μου
ή τα ποιήματα που μου ’χαν αφιερώσει μεγάλοι ποιητές· — τα διαβάζουν
με ηλίθιο στόμφο και με λάθη πολλά στην προφορά, στους τονισμούς, στο μέτρο
και στο συλλαβισμό· — δεν τις διορθώνω. Κάνω πως δεν ακούω. Άλλοτε πάλι
σχεδιάζουν με το μαύρο κραγιόν των φρυδιών μου μεγάλα μουστάκια
στα αγάλματά μου, ή τους φορούν στο κεφάλι ένα παμπάλαιο κράνος
ή το δοχείο της νυκτός. Τις κοιτάζω γαλήνια. Αυτές θυμώνουν.

What would I do if I didn’t have them? “Patience patience” I say

 “patience” – and even that’s a small victory when

they read my old letters from admirers or the poems

that famous poets dedicated to me – they read them

with stupid emphasis and mispronunciation

           the accents the meter

and the syllabification – I don’t try to correct them I pretend I don’t

           hear Other times

they draw big mustaches with my eyebrow black crayon on

            my statues

or they place an ancient helmet or the night chamber pot

on their heads I look at them calmly They get angry


Wheat Ears – Selected Poems


Old Chevy squealed frustration

over the rough asphalt

just outside the little town he reached

at dusk.

They noticed his laughter

in the beer parlour

and at the convenience store

where he bought a pack of smokes.

Molly felt overwhelmed

when she looked deep in his eyes

and by chance touched his hand.

None ever called his name.

Who was the unknown soldier

who fought by our side

in the battle for the spring song?

Futility recommenced human history.

Unaccomplished travesty

when the next day on his way out of town

a door slammed behind him

and when they found him fallen

in the middle of the street

they knew he talked to our glorious ancestors

just one stratum below the reality of his dream.

The following Sunday

Molly went to church

dressed in her red dress

and on her golden hair,

the white scarf.