George Seferis – Collected Poems

Pedlar from Sidon

Easily you’ll recognize

the Son of full-breasted Aphrodite

and Hermes (hermaphrodite)

The young pedlar came from Sidon

without any fear for the angry Poseidon.

His hair pitch black, his chiton purple

fastened on his shoulder by a golden clasp;

every pleat of his body smelling of myrrh and make up.

He entered Cyprus via the sea-port of Famagusta

and now he enjoys the sunshine in the back lanes of Nicosia.

A young Turkish girl in the courtyard and the ivy

she trimmed shivered at the touch of her ivory fingers.

The pedlar crossed the sun of the river like a walking God,

like a whispering dream singing ‘roses in the kerchief.’

As though his purple lips yearned to kiss Zeus’ sandals.

He walked that way and sat next to the gothic gatepost

where Marcus’ lion fixated its wild eyes

on the sleeping shepherd who smelled of he-goat and sweat.

He leaned, took out of his shirt a terracotta statuette and looked at it;

a naked youth that slides uncertain on a whore’s bed

between the concave Hermes and the curved Aphrodite.

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