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.


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