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

Poem by Nanos Valaoritis


The root of a tree consumes my shape

a stone pricks my finger

and skins my brain

my eyes become prey of the leaves

owls hide behind my eyelids

my steps self-delete, stay still

become mouths among the memorial shrubs

a butterfly sucks all of my being

sparks and smoke come out of my nostrils

like the dragons who were corals in ancient times

like the thistle among the grass blades

wind whirls forget of me and deny me

flowers stick their tongues out to me

terraces walk over me

I hate the springs and I trade their wishes

I’m the favored of the waves like the pebbles

I refuse to retreat opposite the wind

to melt in the furnaces of heated baths

to burn on charcoal like a crab

to make superhuman efforts to talk

to save myself

from the conflagration I alone started

I shine like a diamond but I’m not a star

who am I then if I’m not who I am

a heavenly or earthly body, massive, fluid or airy?

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