For Efessos

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 110th birthday.

11-02 Elytis
Oddyseas Elytis
1911 – 1996


Freely beside me the vineyards are running and unbridled
Remains the sky. Wildfires trade pinecones and one
Donkey bolts uphill
for a little cloud
St. Heracleitos’s day and something’s up
That even noses can’t diagnose:
Tricks of a shoeless wind snagging the hem
Of Fate’s nightgown and leaving
Us in the open air of capricorns exposed

Secretly I go with all the loot in my mind
For a life unbowed from the beginning. No candles no chandeliers
Only a gold anemone’s engagement for a diamond
Feeling its way to where? Asking what? Our moon’s half-
shadow needs
You to console even the graves
Homoethnic or not. The crux is that the scent of earth
Lost even to bloodhounds
With its weeds onions and creeks

Must be restored to its idiom

So what! A word contains you peasant of night’s green
Efessos! Forefather sulphur phosphorus your fourteenth generation
Inside the orange groves gold words
Sharing the scalpel’s chisel
Tents as yet unpitched
others midair
Lost poles suddenly grinding. Sermons
Rise from the seafloor of the facing coves
Twin scythes for theater or temple
Fresh valley springs and other curly streams
Of thus and so. If ever wisdom
Planned circles of clover and dog grass
Another world might live just as before
your fingerprint

Letters will exist. People will read and grab
History’s tail once more. Just let the vineyards gallop and the sky remain
Unbridled as children want it
With roosters and pinecones and blue kites flags
On Saint Heracleitos’s day
child’s is the kingdom.


Translation by Olga Broumas

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