Übermensch, poetry by Manolis Aligizakis


     Παρ’ όλο που ήμασταν μονάχα θνητοί και μάλιστα

με μια θρυαλίδα να μας κρατάει σταθερούς σε σημείο

που πάντα νοσταλγούσαμε κάτι διαφορετικό, όταν

η πόρτα μας ξαφνικά έκλεισε μείναμε έξω στη λιακάδα,

απρόσμενο γεγονός που πάνω του κρατηθήκαμε

σαν σχοινοβάτες πάνω σε τεντωμένο σχοινί αιωρούμενοι

ανάμεσα σε δυο πέρατα ταπεινά μια αρχή κι ένα τέλος

δίχως δόντια, γυμνοί και γιομάτοι ντροπή, ενώ στην παρούσα

στιγμή κακές απομιμήσεις των θεών τους ακι ωραιότατα

αντίγραφα του Υπερανθρώπου ήμασταν, πιαστήκαμε 

από τον προαιώνιο χρόνο, τον σφίξαμε αφάνταστα σφιχτά

κι αφήσαμε το χνάρι μας στο νωπό χώμα, σημάδι πως

κι εμείς περάσαμε από `δω.

     Κι ο Μέγας Μύστης είπε: ‘ Όλα αυτά είναι σωστά.’


Although merely mortals and indeed with a short fuse,

we always yearned for something different, when our

door suddenly shut us outside and in the hot sunshine,

event completely unexpected on which we balanced

ourselves like humble ropewalkers, flimsily hanging

naked and with no teeth, from the stretched rope that

hovered over two ends; we were full of shame while

at the present moment bad imitations of God

excellent copies of our Übermensch onto whom

we attached ourselves so ever tightly and

we made our mark into the moist soil, sign

of our passing through when the Great Initiate

said: ‘all these are done well.


Neo-Hellene Poets, an Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry, 1750-2018

Poem by Odysseus Elytis


Once in a thousand years

         the spirits of the sea

in the darkened seaweed

         in the green pebbles

they plant it and it grows

         before the sunrise

they chant their charms and

         the clover of the sea rises

And whoever finds it does not die

         and whoever finds it does not die

Once in a thousand years

         nightingales sing differently

they don’t laugh nor they cry

         they only say they only say:

once in a thousand years

         love becomes eternal

wish it to be your luck wish it to be your luck

         and this year will bring you success

And from the places of the sky

         it will bring your love

The three leaved sea clover

         whoever finds it, send it to me

whoever finds it, send it to me

         the three leaved sea clover.


George Seferis – Collected Poems


The flowering sea and the mountains in the waning


the great rock near the cactus pear trees and the asphodels

the water pitcher that wouldn’t go dry at the end of the day

and the empty bed near the cypresses and your hair

golden, the stars of the Swan and that star, Aldebaran.

I got hold of my life, I got hold of my life traveling

among yellow trees in the slanting rain

in silent slopes loaded with beech-tree leaves

no fire on their peaks; it’s getting dark.

I got hold of my life; a line on your left hand

on your knee a scar, perhaps they still exist

in the sand of last summer, perhaps

they’re still there where the north wind blew and I hear

the unfamiliar voice around the frozen lake.

The faces I see don’t ask questions nor does the woman

stooping as she walks breastfeeding her baby.

I climb the mountains; bruised ravines; the snow


plain, up to the far end the snow-covered plain, they ask nothing

nor does the time enslaved in silent chapels, nor

do the hands outstretched to beg, nor the roads.

I got hold of my life whispering in the boundless silence

I no longer know how to speak nor how to think; whispers

like the cypress’ breath that night

like the human voice of the night sea on pebbles

like the memory of your voice saying ‘happiness’.

I close my eyes searching for the secret encounter of waters

under the ice , the smile of the sea, the closed water wells

groping with my veins those veins

           that escape me

there, where the water lilies end and this man

who saunters as though blind on the snow of silence.

I got hold of my life, with him, searching for the water

           that touches you

heavy drops on the green leaves, on your face

in the vacant garden, drops on the motionless cistern

discovering a dead swan with its snow-white wings

living trees and your eyes fixated.

This road has no end, doesn’t change, no matter

           how hard you try

to recall your childhood years, the ones who left


who got lost in their sleep, the pelagic graves

no matter how hard you ask the bodies you loved to stoop

under the hardened branches of the plane trees there

where the naked sun ray stood

and a dog leaped and your heart shuddered

the road has no change; I got hold of my life.

            The snow

and the frozen water in the horses’ hoof-marks.