Yannis Ritsos-Poems, Selected Books, Volume II


Step by step the tents on the hillside

straight to the sky

nailed on the rocks

staked by stubbornness

with the harpoon of the sun in their chests.

Days come and go. The stone doesn’t change.

Sometime a ship goes by, a cloud

leaving behind it a bit of a shadow

a small window open to the trees and to time.

Nothing changes;

nor does the heart or the stone.

Stone bed where we sleep

stone bread onto which we sharpen our teeth

stone hand onto which the night steadies its chin.

The wind doesn’t blow them away.

The sundown folds its red flag;

we’ll sleep with a stone between our teeth again

with the sea nostrils close to our ears.

Whatever may come now, comrades,

will find us with a bag on our shoulders

with all our heart in the bag

whirling our determination on the oath of democracy

as we whirl our finger in the button hole of our friend’s


not that we don’t have anything to say

but because we love him so much and it’s always

         like that

when we love we can’t talk

we play with a twig of wild olive tree in our hands

we scratch a name in the soil

always the same ready, always ready

always the name of Freedom.


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