Yannis Ritsos – Poems, Selected Books, Volume II, Second Edition

UNCLE MITSOS

Uncle Mitsos passed.

The flashlight of Virgin Mary lights

over his rough moustache.


Uncle Mitsos sacrificed his three sons to the struggle

and his hut and his grapevine;

uncle Mitsos had nothing left: he had sacrificed his life;

he had a joy too: his sons were members of the Party.

Uncle Mitsos had a sadness too: he wasn’t a member

           of the Party,

he never signed a confession paper. They killed him.

Uncle Mitsos passed

with a big red bird in his dream

with the holy talisman of the struggle sewed on the lining

          of his coat.

If we searched his pockets we may find

a small field of wheat ears and

the shade of a poplar next to the river.

In a knot of his kerchief he had kept his

wedding ring and a cut up piece of paper

with the announcement of his son’s execution.


Uncle Mitsos, tell your son to rest in peace

you know how to tell him with your accent

tell him to rest in peace; everything leads to where

          we’ve planned.

You don’t need much, just a little stirring of

           your moustache and

he’ll know. Goodbye uncle Mitsos.

He’ll understand. Goodbye uncle Mitsos.

Leave your cane here. We need it.

We’ll make a staff for our red flag;

uncle Mitsos rest assured, a fiery red flag.

Goodbye uncle Mitsos, the flag will be red

we tell you like the blood of your children

who the fascists killed, like the blood

of all the fighters of the world.

Goodbye uncle Mitsos

goodbye comrade uncle Mitsos, don’t worry

your application was accepted by the Party.

And the light was so bright today,

strong like the oath of our Revolution

that you swear once and forever.

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